Authorities in New Jersey announced on May 16 that a fraud and identity theft investigation lasting three weeks has led to criminal charges being filed against seven individuals. The five New Jersey residents and two New York residents are facing counts including theft, receiving stolen property and possessing identification documents with intent to commit fraud. The investigation was led by detectives with the Westfield Police Department and assisted by personnel from the Union County Prosecutor's Office's and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
The seven individuals are accused of acquiring identification documents from people with Indian and U.S. dual citizenship, which were then used to fraudulently obtain driver's licenses. The driver's licenses were then used to obtain credit cards and store gift cards. A Union County Prosecutor's Office representative said that approximately 250 illegally obtained credit cards and driver's licenses were discovered in New York and New Jersey properties occupied by the seven defendants.
The seven individuals charged are said to have used the credit cards to purchase merchandise including Swiss watches, jewelry, electronic equipment and Scotch whiskey. Investigators say that they seized merchandise valued at approximately $75,000 in addition to freezing about $540,000 in cash. The seven individuals face sentences of between five years and 10 years in a state prison if convicted.
Announcements of this kind usually feature long lists of charges and pictures of seized property, but the actual evidence that will be relied upon to secure a conviction is often only mentioned in passing. Law enforcement agencies must work within strict constitutional limits, and a criminal defense attorney may seek to have fraud charges reduced or dismissed if police are found to have strayed beyond these clearly defined boundaries.
Source: Summit Patch, "Prosecutor: 7 People Charged in Identity Theft, Fraud Ring", Nicholas Cardos, May 16, 2015