What to Know
- Acting Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez and NYPD Police Commissioner James O'Neill announced the indictments Tuesday
- They say gangs using fake credit cards to finance violent activity has become an emerging trend
- In total, 35 defendants with ties to Brownsville-based crews are named in the indictments
Thirty-five people tied to the Brooklyn-based Hoodstarz street gang and affiliated crews have been arrested for allegedly financing violent crimes with elaborate credit card fraud schemes following a year-long investigation, officials announced Tuesday.
The suspects allegedly bought more than 750 credit card numbers from the dark web and used embossing machines to make phony cards; they then purchased items like American Girl dolls and concert tickets, but also bought guns.
The alleged gang members from the Brownsville neighborhood tested the fake cards by charging $1 at parking meters, Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez and NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said in jointly announcing the 15 indictments.
One card had such a high limit, an alleged gang member was heard on electronic surveillance saying the card "shot like Steph Curry," officials said.
The 35 defendants named in the indictments Tuesday have been connected with other violent crimes, including a home invasion. In one case, an 8-year-old boy got ahold of a relative's gun and brought it to school.
The defendants face varying crimes including criminal sale of a controlled substance, forgery, criminal possession of stolen property and of a weapon, assault and burglary.
Authorities say gangs using credit card fraud to finance their violent activity has become more of a trend over the last five years.
"As alleged, the defendants targeted not only their neighbors –- who they attacked and robbed in their homes and on the street -– but also strangers who they’d never met, stealing their identities to line their own pockets," Gonzalez said in a statement. "It is no longer enough to target the perpetrators of violent acts; public safety also requires us to pursue the criminals whose fraudulent financial schemes support violent gangs and their members."
O'Neill called the case an example of precision policing at work.
"For those from Brownsville, this is the end of Hoodstarz's violence, identity theft, bogus rental cars, and drug dealing that permeated the streets," he said.