A Bayside man has pleaded guilty in an identity theft scheme during which he conspired with the leader of a Newark-based organized crime enterprise, according to the U.S. attorney for New Jersey.
Young-Wood Ji, 38, of Bayside, pleaded guilty Monday before U.S. District Judge Katharine Hayden to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting financial institutions, bank fraud, aggravated identity theft and false claims, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said.
The defendant, who was arrested on Sept. 16, worked with New Jersey’s Sang-Hyun Park to defraud banks, credit card companies and other lenders, the U.S. attorney said.
In February 2008, Ji traveled to Illinois and used a Social Security card with the prefix “586” to fraudulently obtain driver’s licenses.
The “586” cards are issued by the U.S. to individuals – typically from China – who are employed in American territories, such as Guam.
Park, who pleaded guilty in January 2012, acted as the leader of a criminal organization based out of Bergen County, N.J., that obtained, brokered and sold identity documents to customers for the purpose of committing credit card fraud, bank fraud, tax fraud and other crimes, Fishman said.
The organization fraudulently built up credit scores by adding the fake identities as authorized users to the credit card accounts of various conspirators who received a fee for their services.
Then, the organization’s members assisted the customers who purchased the identities in opening bank accounts and obtaining credit cards, the U.S. attorney said.
Park and his conspirators then used the accounts and cards to commit fraud. Several merchants associated with the organization possessed credit card processing machines and charged the fraudulently obtained cards, receiving a fee in exchange. In each case, no actual transaction took place.
The merchants would then give money obtained through the transactions to Park, who admitted to authorities that he received as much as $50,000 through fraudulent credit card charges.
A fictitious business for which he created a merchant account known as ZZ Entertainment caused more than $400,000 in financial losses for banks and credit card companies.
Ji admitted that he used the “586” identities and fraudulent W-2 forms to claim hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax refunds from the Internal Revenue Service, Fishman said.
Ji will be sentenced on May 15. He could face up to 34 years in prison, the U.S. attorney said.