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Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told a news conference last Thursday nearly 40 people were arrested on March 4, including the gang's alleged boss, Kwok Chow, 36, of 132-45 41st Ave. in Flushing.Many of those charged are accused of going on shopping sprees throughout the United States, buying hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of high-end merchandise with forged credit cards bearing account numbers of unsuspecting consumers, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said."Often the so-called shoppers would... spend more than $50,000 in a single store with a few swipes of a fake credit card," Kelly said.They were accused of buying flat screen TVs, laptops, designer handbags and cosmetics. The goods were sold on a special Web site operated by the gang.Police said the fake credit card shoppers victimized many New York City stores, including Bloomingdale's and Macy's, as well as others in many other cities nationwide.On display at NYPD headquarters were piles of bogus credit cards and driver's licenses, hundreds of thousands of dollars mostly in $100 bills, credit card coding machines, scanners, printers, templates, card readers and machines used to stamp credit card account information onto cards. There were also numerous brands of expensive cosmetics, women's handbags, laptop computers and high-priced sound equipment, all seized by the NYPD Organized Theft and Identity Theft Task Force.Brown said the "shopper" teams sent to cities throughout the nation used forged documents to buy airline tickets and then used the same documents as identification to board commercial airliners."In the hands of terrorists, such documents could have easily undermined efforts of Homeland Security and other law enforcement officials intent on keeping our borders and citizens safe," Brown said.The DA said that even after those arrested go through the judicial system, "their victims are still faced with the difficult task of having to repair their credit ratings and financial reputations. In some cases, that process can take years."Kelly praised the work of the police, including six officers who supplied translations from the Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese dialects.Kwok Chow, the gang's alleged boss, was indicted on charges of running a criminal enterprise and receiving the necessary raw material Ð lists of credit card account numbers and blank credit cards from American suppliers who got the information from a an unknown supplier in China.The rest of the defendants were charged with various crimes, including enterprise corruption, criminal possession of forged instruments, grand larceny, identity theft, criminal possession of stolen property and forgery. Seven gang members, however, are still at large.Officials said that the gang set up several workshops to produce both fake credit cards and fake driver's licenses, including one in a basement apartment at 209-25 46th Ave. in Bayside.The NYPD began its investigation, called "House of Cards," 14 months ago, when a man attempted to use a fake New York state driver's license in a city store.Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 136.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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