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Document and Benefit Fraud
11/01/2011

4 members of large-scale identity theft ring plead guilty

NEWARK, N.J. – Four additional members of a large scale and sophisticated identity theft scheme pleaded guilty Tuesday to their roles in this criminal enterprise. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation, the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office.

The four defendants were arrested on Sept. 16, 2010. They are as follows:

  • Dong-Won Kim, aka "Andy," 50, of Flushing, N.Y., pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to unlawfully produce identification and false identification documents and aggravated identity theft. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, as well as a two-year mandatory minimum prison term on the identity theft charge. He was released on $250,000 bail.
  • Yoon-Hee Park, 56, of Flushing, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to unlawfully produce identification documents, credit card fraud and aggravated identity theft. He faces a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, as well as a two-year mandatory minimum prison term on the identity theft charge. He is currently detained.
  • Byung Jang, 47, of Fort Lee, N.J., pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit credit card fraud and aggravated identity theft. At sentencing, he faces a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, as well as a two-year mandatory minimum prison term on the aggravated identity theft charge. He is currently detained.
  • Kyung-Ki Kim, 50, of Edison, N.J., pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to unlawfully produce a false identification document (counterfeit driver's license), credit card fraud and aggravated identity theft. At sentencing, he faces a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He is currently detained.

Sentencing for all four defendants is scheduled for Feb. 22, 2012.

According to court documents, the four defendants were involved in a criminal organization headquartered in Bergen County, N.J., led by Sang-Hyun Park, 45, aka "Jimmy," of Palisades Park, N.J. The organization obtained, brokered and sold identity documents to customers. As part of the scheme, the Park Criminal Enterprise obtained Social Security cards beginning with the prefix "586." Social Security cards with that prefix were issued by the United States to individuals, usually from China, who were employed in American territories, such as American Samoa, Guam and Saipan. The Park Criminal Enterprise sold these Social Security cards to its customers and then escorted the customers to various states to use the cards to obtain identification cards and driver's licenses.

The Park Criminal Enterprise engaged in the fraudulent "build up" of credit scores associated with these fraudulently obtained identities. They added the identity as an authorized user to the credit card accounts of various co-conspirators who received a fee for this service. By attaching the identities to these existing credit card accounts, the criminal enterprise increased the credit scores associated with the identities between 700 and 800. The members of the criminal enterprise did not know the real person to whom the identity belonged to nor virtually any of the customers who had purchased the identities.

After building the credit associated with these identities, Park and his co-conspirators directed, coached and assisted his customers to open bank accounts and obtain credit cards. Park and his co-conspirators then used these accounts and credit cards to commit fraud. Park relied on several collusive merchants who possessed credit card processing, or swipe machines.

For a fee, known as a "kkang fee," these collusive merchants charged the fraudulently obtained credit cards, although no transaction took place. After receiving the money into their merchant accounts from the credit card related to these fraudulent transactions, the collusive merchants gave the money to Park and his co-conspirators, minus their "kkang fee."

Dong-Won Kim was a major supplier of Social Security cards beginning with the numbers 586 to the Park Criminal Enterprise. Dong-Won Kim admitted that he sold these Social Security cards to Sang-Hyun Park, aka "Jimmy." Dong-Won Kim also admitted that he escorted customers to Illinois where the customers used the 586 Social Security cards, altered Chinese passports, and other false documents to obtain identification cards and driver's license.

Dong-Won Kim also admitted he traveled to Illinois on a least four occasions, where he fraudulently obtained identification cards and driver's licenses in three different identities. On Aug. 29, 2008, he used one of those identities to apply for and obtain a 2008 SUV from a dealership in New York. He also admitted that he used one of his fraudulently obtained identities to apply for and obtain credit cards. In his plea agreement, he acknowledged that he caused in excess of $400,000 in financial losses.

Yoon-Hee Park was a customer of the Park Criminal Enterprise. He admitted he traveled to Illinois on two occasions and obtained identification cards, using two different identities from that state. He used those identities to apply for and fraudulently obtain credit cards and a loan, resulting in excess of $400,000 in financial losses to banks and credit card companies, among others.

Byung Jang was another customer of the Park Criminal Enterprise. He admitted he purchased a Social Security card beginning with the numbers 586 and a counterfeit driver's license from the Park Criminal Enterprise. He used those identities to apply for and fraudulently obtain credit cards, resulting in excess of $200,000 in financial losses to banks and credit card companies, among others.

Kyung-Ki Kim was a customer of the Park Criminal Enterprise. He admitted he purchased a 586 Social Security card and a counterfeit driver's license from the Park Criminal Enterprise. In July 2010, at a bank in Fort Lee, he attempted to use this identity to open an account. When he presented the counterfeit driver's license to the bank teller, the bank contacted local law enforcement and Kim was arrested. He also acknowledged that he and members of the Park Criminal Enterprise "busted out" his own personal credit cards, resulting in significant financial losses to banks and credit card companies.

The charges and allegations contained in the criminal complaint against Sang-Hyun Park and other members of the Park Criminal Enterprise with pending cases, are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.