Let’s talk about fraud rings. They operate on many levels and include a ringleader and lots of second and third tier fraudsters. The fraud they perpetrate often crosses state and international boundaries. And, that’s what’s alleged in today’s “Fraud of the Day” from The San Francisco Chronicle.
The article reports that 17 people were arrested in June 2012 throughout six states for allegedly participating in a New Jersey based-identity fraud ring. Authorities say the ring conducted over 700 transactions by helping undocumented immigrants obtain drivers licenses and other legal documents. One of the alleged insiders, working as a contractor at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, is accused of stealing blank I-797 forms. The article reports that “the forms are used by immigration authorities, who share them with other government agencies when an immigration issue arises.” Authorities say “the ring reprinted customers’ information on the blank forms and used receipt numbers that corresponded to numbers that were already in the system.” The documents allegedly were then used to get licenses and other IDs for which the ring supposedly charged between $3,000 and $4,500 per service. (If what authorities say is true, this was a pretty elaborate set up.)
So, how do authorities say this alleged fraud came to light? Just two years ago, a New Jersey fraud ring – consisting of 50 people – was shut down. This ring “produced an informant,” who authorities say infiltrated the alleged fraud ring at the center of this story, purchasing fake documents and recording conversations.
The alleged ringleader of the fraud ring faces one count of conspiracy to unlawfully produce identification documents, one count of money laundering conspiracy and one count of conspiracy to steal government property. The Citizenship and Immigration Services contract employee faces one count of conspiracy to steal government property.