UPPER WEST SIDE – Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. today announced the indictment of six individuals for participating in a scheme involving identity theft, check forgery, and bank fraud.
According to the indictment and documents filed in court, between August and September 2017, the defendants obtained victims’ personal information, deposited forged checks, and used ATM cards to withdraw funds from the accounts as part of a coordinated scheme known as “card cracking.”
In total, the defendants deposited at least 52 counterfeit checks, corresponding to approximately $62,550 in bank account fraud.
The defendants are charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, and Identity Theft in the Second Degree, among other charges.
As part of the scheme, Gabriel Molina, 32, a concierge who was responsible for receiving rent checks from the tenants of a high-rise apartment complex on the Upper West Side, began taking photographs of the checks and sending them to Frayluis Henriquez, 23. The stolen personal information was used to create forged checks, and a search warrant later executed at Molina’s residence revealed possession of a laptop with check-manufacturing software and blank check stock, as well as a firearm and metal knuckles.
Ashley Bautista, 22, used social media to bring others into the scheme, posting ads on Snapchat and offering individuals money in exchange for use of their ATM cards and bank accounts so that the forged checks could be deposited into the accounts by Molina, Henriquez, and others.
“As Commissioner O’Neill and I warned last year, ‘card cracking’ scammers with large followings on Snapchat and other platforms are luring people into their schemes by showing off designer merchandise, luxury cars, and stacks of cash,” said District Attorney Vance. “Social media users who see these posts promising quick, fast money should know that they are scams, they are illegal, and those who coordinate and participate in them may find themselves facing criminal charges like the ones contained in today’s indictment. This case demonstrates outstanding collaboration between my Office’s Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau and our partners at the NYPD, who share our commitment to protecting New Yorkers from constantly evolving identity theft and financial scams.”
If you are a victim of fraud, please call Office’s Cybercrime and Identity Theft Hotline at 212-335-9600