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Financial Crimes

2 NJ women admit roles in scheme to defraud bank, credit card companies

NEWARK, N.J. – Two women pleaded guilty Monday to charges resulting from their roles in a large-scale identity-theft scheme. This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the FBI, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation and the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office.

Rita S. Kim, 49, of Fort Lee, N.J., and Hyon-Suk Chung, aka "Clara," 50, of North Bergen, N.J., each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

According to court documents, Kim and Chung, conspired with Sang-Hyun Park, aka "Jimmy," and others to obtain a Social Security card beginning with the prefix 586. These 586 Social Security cards were issued to individuals, usually from China, employed in American territories, such as Guam. The individuals from China who were issued these Social Security numbers never established credit files or scores in the United States. These Chinese identities were essentially blank slates with no corresponding credit files or scores. Kim and Chung engaged in the fraudulent build-up of credit scores associated with these Chinese identities by adding them as authorized users to their credit card accounts, in exchange for a fee from Park and his associates.

Kim and Chung admitted they received information related to the Chinese identities necessary for the credit build-up from Park’s associates, such as Sung-Sil Joh, aka "Jenny," and Young-Hee Ju, aka "Stephanie." Joh and Ju have pleaded guilty in connection with their roles in the scheme and await sentencing.

By attaching the Chinese identities to their credit card accounts, Kim and Chung increased the credit scores associated with the Chinese identities to between 700 and 800. Kim and Chung each admitted that they created credit scores for approximately 100 Chinese identities. They also acknowledged that their criminal conduct caused credit card companies and other lenders nearly $2.05 million in losses.

Kim and Chung will be sentenced Jan. 8. If convicted, they each face 60 months in prison.