Ali, the former vice president of the Bangladesh Society of New York, served as a broker in the scheme, arranging to purchase credit cards from community members that would later be used to ring up massive, unpaid debts at small businesses in the Jackson Heights area, Brown said.Brown and New York Postal Inspector in Charge Robin Dalgleish described Alias a "key player" in the scheme for which 14 others already have been convicted. Ali pleaded guilty to second-degree money laundering on June 25, 2003 and was sentenced to four years in prison by Queens Supreme Court Justice Roberta Dunlop last Thursday."The defendant was a key player in a ring of thieves that stole over $6.8 million from credit card companies and laundered $1.2 million of the illicit proceeds to conceal their criminality," Brown said. "The prison sentence imposed sends a clear message that if you commit a white-collar crime in Queens County, you will inevitably be discovered, vigorously prosecuted and severely punished."Ali and his accomplices purchased credits cards for mostly Bangladeshi and Pakistani immigrants, some of whom had as many as 25 or 50 accounts in their name, the DA said. The band then turned to local merchants, who maxed out the cards for fake purchases, according to Brown. The bills would go unpaid, forcing as many as eight credit companies to absorb losses of more than $6.8 million, he said. Brown said most of the immigrants who sold their credit portfolios returned to their country of origin, moved and assumed new names or declared bankruptcy.The band also wrote fraudulent checks for fake purchases to launder at least $1.7 million of their illicit proceeds, Brown said."Credit card fraud schemes, like true name fraud and ID theft, continue to be an economic and emotional strain on individuals and the banking industry as well," Dalgleish said.The companies, which included Bank One/First USA, Chase, American Express, Citibank, MBNA, Bank of America, Fleet and Wells Fargo, launched an investigation in November 2001 after discovering a pattern of large financial transactions among certain Queens merchants, Brown said.As part of separate proceedings against the same group, Anwar Haque, owner of the Amasia USA/Dollar Connection Variety Store on 37th Avenue, was convicted of masterminding the operation in May 2004 after a five-month-long jury trial. The 51-year-old Corona father was sentenced to 21 1/2 to 64 1/2 years in prison.Reach reporter James DeWeese by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.
©2005 Community News Group
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