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FBI agents enter Raja Jewelers in Jersey City on Tuesday, investigating an international credit card fraud ring.
REENA ROSE SIBAYAN/THE JERSEY JOURNAL
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Date published: 2/6/2013
NEWARK, N.J.--Eighteen people have been charged in what may be one of the nation's largest credit card fraud rings, a sprawling international scam that duped credit rating agencies and used thousands of fake identities to steal at least $200 million, federal authorities said Tuesday.
The elaborate scheme involved improving fake cardholders' credit scores, allowing the scammers to borrow more money that they never repaid, investigators said.
The group used at least 7,000 fake identities to obtain more than 25,000 credit cards, U.S. attorney Paul Fishman said. Investigators documented $200 million in losses, but the figure could rise, he said.
"Through their greed and arrogance," Fishman said, the people arrested harm credit card companies, consumers and "the rest of us who have to deal with increased interest rates and fees because of the money sucked out of the system by criminals."
Participants in the scam set up more than 1,800 mailing addresses, creating fake utility bills and other documents to provide credit card companies with what appeared to be legitimate addresses, investigators said.
Once they obtained the cards, they started making small charges and paying off the cards to raise their credit limits, authorities said.
They then sent fake reports to credit rating agencies, making it appear that cardholders had paid off debts, setting the stage for sterling credit ratings and high credit limits, investigators said.
Fishman said once the credit limits were raised, participants would take out loans or max out the credit cards and not repay the debts.