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Man charged in Aqueductidentity theft

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Ervin Caspi, 49, who lives at a hotel in Whitestone, was arrested March 2 at Aqueduct with $171,000 in cash, including a counterfeit $100 bill, credit card numbers and Social Security cards on his person, according to DA Richard Brown.Caspi, who is wanted in New Jersey for credit card fraud, is a naturalized citizen born in Romania, the DA said.He was charged with grand larceny, money laundering, forgery, identity theft, criminal possession of a forged instrument, scheme to defraud, falsifying business records and unlawful possession of personal identification information, according to the DA. He was being held without bail and could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted, Brown said.Caspi is accused of using the stolen identity information to get cash advances and launder them through several New York Racing Association wagering accounts that he had opened with the information, then withdraw cash from the accounts, according to the DA. "The defendant is charged with ripping off numerous credit card companies for tens of thousands of dollars in complicated identify theft and credit card fraud schemes in which he gambled he would not get caught," said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown in a statement. "(He) lost his bet."One of Caspi's alleged victims, Albert Burch, 54, of West Amherst, N.Y. got a letter from the Internal Revenue Service that he owed income tax on "tens of thousands of dollars" in gambling winnings while at the same time receiving letters from creditors saying he owed more than $30,000 in late payments, according to the DA. Burch told investigators his wallet had been stolen in June 2004. When he was arrested, Caspi had Burch's driver's license, AAA card, election card, and various other documents belonging to him, the DA said.According to a complaint filed in Queens Criminal Court, the alleged scheme took place between Sept. 1, 2003 and March 1, 2004 at Aqueduct as well as Belmont and Saratoga racetracks.The NYRA and credit card companies uncovered the scheme last month and conducted a joint investigation with the DA's New York State Police Squad, Economic Crimes Bureau and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, according to the DA. "The defendant apparently had a 'catch me if you can' attitude," said New York Postal Inspector in Charge Robin Dalgleish. "That is just what we did."Reach reporter Peter A. Sutters Jr. by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300 Ext. 173.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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