EZ Pass to Easy Street?

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The purpose of an EZ Pass tag is to improve the flow of traffic. The thinking is that if people don’t have to stop and throw coins into a bucket or exchange cash with a toll booth operator, there will be fewer bottlenecks on the highway. But, according to a complaint detailed in today’s fraud from Forbes.com, three New Yorkers allegedly tried to use the EZ Pass to get to Easy Street.

The article reports that three defendants ”are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft arising in connection with an alleged Internet-based credit card fraud scheme whereby they used stolen credit cards to purchase EZ Pass tags and credits, which they resold.’? Beginning in November 2008, two defendants used ”at least 50 stolen…credit cards to purchase EZ Pass tags and credits, which were resold through the drezpass.com and www.ezpasstag.com websites that they created.’? The investigation ”has identified at least 900 EZ Pass accounts, which incurred more than $100,000 worth of charges going back to July 2011.”

In order to process credit cards, ”a ‘merchant account’ must be established with a card processor” linked to an applicant’s business. The complaint alleges that the defendants used phony merchant businesses to establish the accounts through which they ”attempted to make a staggering $3 million worth of charges” on credit cards. They allegedly attempted to ”charge more than $6 million to the compromised accounts, and in total they obtained at least $4 million worth of goods,” including a luxury car (Imagine the salesperson when he/she finds out there is no commission on that deal), services (e.g., pet insurance), and cash, as well as to order takeout food up to three times a day. (Alleged fraudsters get hungry just like the rest of us.)

It should be noted the defendants are innocent until proven guilty, and they are due their day in court. Regardless of the outcome in this case, it calls attention to a new type of fraud. We’re now on notice – a fraudster somewhere may try this scam looking for EZ money. So, here’s the question of the day: is your state prepared to combat EZ Pass fraud?

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, ”EZ Pass Fraud Using Stolen Credit Cards Seems Too Easy,” written by Bill Singer and published by Forbes.com on March 29, 2012.

According to a federal criminal Complaint filed federal court in Manhattan on March 28, 2012, Rana Khandakar, 27, Brooklyn, NY; and Usawan Saelim, 27, Brooklyn, NY, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft arising in connection with an alleged Internet-based credit card fraud scheme whereby they used stolen credit cards to purchase EZ Pass tags and credits, which they then resold. The two defendants face a maximum prison sentence of 9 ½ years.

NOTE: A criminal Complaint contains allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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