NEWARK, N.J. – Four members of a large-scale and sophisticated identity theft scheme have been sentenced to prison terms for their respective roles in the fraud, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced Wednesday. The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the FBI, IRS – Criminal Investigation, Bergen County Prosecutor's Office and the office's Chief of Detectives.
Yoon-Hee Park, 57, of Flushing, N.Y., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden to 54 months in prison. Park was also sentenced to two years supervised release and ordered to pay restitution of $423,367.
Byung Jang, 47, of Fort Lee, N.J., was sentenced by Judge Hayden to 48 months in prison; two years supervised release and ordered to pay restitution of $295,215. On Nov. 1, 2011, both defendants pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to unlawfully produce identification documents and to commit credit card fraud, and one count each of aggravated identity theft.
On Feb. 15, 2012, Judge Hayden sentenced Kyung-Ki Kim, 51, of Edison, N.J., to11 months in prison and ordered him to pay $74,864.65 in restitution. On Nov. 1, 2011, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to unlawfully produce identification documents and to commit credit card fraud.
Judge Hayden sentenced Sung-Rok Joh, 54, of Palisades Park, N.J., to six months in prison and six months home confinement, and ordered him to pay $79,333. On July 12, 2010, Joh pleaded guilty to conspiracy to unlawfully produce an identification document and to commit credit card fraud.
Yoon-Hee Park, Byung Jang, Kyung-Ki Kim and Sung-Rok Joh were arrested on Sept. 16, 2010, in a coordinated law enforcement takedown of 53 individuals in connection with widespread, sophisticated identity theft and fraud, including 40 other individuals charged with participating in one large-scale criminal enterprise.
According to court documents:
Sang-Hyun Park, aka "Jimmy," is alleged to have been the leader of a criminal organization headquartered in Bergen County, N.J., that obtained, brokered and sold identity documents to customers for the purpose of committing credit card fraud, bank fraud and tax fraud. 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 then engaged in the fraudulent "build up" of credit scores associated with these fraudulently obtained identities. They did so by adding the identity as an authorized user to the credit card accounts of various co-conspirators who received a fee for this service – members of the enterprise's credit build-up teams. By attaching the identities to these existing credit card accounts, the teams increased the credit scores associated with the identities to between 700 and 800. The members of the build-up teams knew neither the real person to whom the identity belonged 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. In particular, 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."
Yoon-Hee Park, Byung Jang, Kyung-Ki Kim and Sung-Rok Joh were customers of the Park criminal enterprise. Sang-Hyun Park pleaded guilty on Jan. 9, 2012 and is awaiting sentencing.
As for the other members of the Park criminal enterprise, the charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Barbara R. Llanes of the U.S. Attorney's Office Criminal Division and Anthony Moscato of the office's Organized Crime/Gangs Unit in Newark.