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Document and Benefit Fraud

HSI arrests couple involved in a commercial driver's license scheme

NEW YORK — A couple has been arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud in a driver's license test-taking scheme. The arrests are a result of an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with the assistance of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), U.S. Department of Transportation, New York City Police Department and the Internal Revenue Service.

Ying Wai Phillip Ng, 47, and his wife, Pui Kuen Ng, 47, allegedly helped an undercover agent (UC) cheat on the written commercial driver's license (CDL) test offered by the DMV.

"The defendants charged today allegedly sought to defraud the state of New York and profit by providing commercial driver's licenses to individuals who did not possess the skills necessary to acquire such credentials and, as a result, have greatly endangered the general public in the state of New York and elsewhere," said James T. Hayes, Jr., special agent in charge of HSI New York. "This investigation highlights how HSI investigates a broad spectrum of criminal activity that threatens public safety and national security."

"We must be able to trust that those who drive buses and trucks on our nation's highways meet stringent standards for safety and competency. Lives depend upon it," said U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch, Eastern District of New York. "As charged in the complaint, the defendants put the public – passengers, pedestrians and drivers alike – at grave risk in order to line their own pockets. This office will vigorously investigate and prosecute those who seek to undermine public safety for commercial gain."

The DMV administers a multiple-choice written test for applicants seeking a CDL to operate buses and trucks above a certain size. The defendants operated a driving school in Brooklyn known as N&Y Professional Service Line (N&Y), which is licensed by the DMV to offer courses and training to applicants seeking a CDL.

According to court documents, in January 2012, the UC visited N&Y's offices posing as a prospective bus driver who wanted to obtain a CDL. The UC spoke with the defendant Pui Kuen Ng in Mandarin, and told her he could not speak English well enough to pass the written test. Pui Kuen Ng told the UC that, in exchange for $1,800, she could ensure that the UC passed the test, which is administered only in English and Spanish.

On Feb. 1, 2012, Ying Wai Phillip Ng picked up the UC in a minivan and drove him to the parking lot outside the Staten Island office of the DMV. Once there, he allegedly gave the UC a jacket containing a hidden camera and instructed the UC to wear the jacket while taking the test. Ying Wai Phillip Ng then showed the UC a television screen in the minivan, which received images from the hidden camera. Ying Wai Phillip Ng then clipped a beeper on the UC's belt and explained that the UC should point the camera at each test question, so Ying Wai Phillip Ng could read the question on the television screen in the minivan. Ying Wai Phillip Ng told the UC that if the answer to a particular test question was "A," the beeper would buzz twice; if the answer was "B," the beeper would buzz four times; and if the answer was "C," the beeper would buzz six times. Ying Wai Phillip Ng allegedly told the UC not to worry and that he had been helping people pass the written test this way for ten years.

The UC then entered the Staten Island DMV office and took the CDL written test, pointing the camera in the jacket sleeve at each question and filling out answers as instructed based on the vibrations of the beeper. The UC passed the test, returned to the minivan in the parking lot and paid Ying Wai Phillip Ng $1,800 in cash.

As set forth in a detention letter filed by the government, the investigation revealed that more than 720 applicants associated with N&Y have taken the CDL road test since January 2010. One such applicant later drove a bus involved in a fatal crash in Virginia, in which four passengers were killed and dozens injured.

If convicted of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, the defendants each face a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.