Twelve alleged gang members face fraud, aggravated identity theft and other charges in connection with a federal indictment accusing them in a money order scheme at banks in the New York area and along the East Coast, authorities said Tuesday.
Eight of the 12 suspects were arrested early Tuesday during a raid at the Van Dyke Houses in Brownsville by Department of Homeland Security agents, U.S. Postal Inspectors and NYPD, officials say.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said the case suggests that "members of street gangs, like the Van Dyke Money Gang, have expanded their criminal repertoire to include white collar crimes like bank fraud and identity theft."
"Today’s arrests dismantle a gang that allegedly used bank fraud and identity theft to line their pockets with cash using a scheme that cost New York banks over $1.5 million dollars," HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Raymond J. Parmer Jr. added in a press release.
According to the indictment, the defendants fraudulently obtained blank postal and Western Union money orders and printed a specific dollar amount, usually under $1,000 on them. They allegedly recruited bank account holders and used their accounts to deposit the fake orders.
The defendants, allegedly members of the Van Dyke Money Gang, then withdrew the money from those accounts; they used more than 350 accounts for those purposes, the indictment alleges.
The scheme defrauded New York-area banks, as well as ones along the East Coast from Boston to Washington, D.C., out more than $1 million, authorities said.