The Suffolk County District Attorney Wednesday released a massive indictment of 13 individuals and several companies for allegedly conspiring to defraud using fake identities.
In what’s called a synthetic identity fraud scheme, the defendants are charged in a 108 count indictment of using stolen social security numbers to obtain over $1 Million from fraudulent loans and credit card accounts from financial institutions.
The indictment was announced in a press conference held Sept. 23 with DA Tim Sini and Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart. The investigation started in August, 2018 when a member of the DA’s financial investigations started tracking a suspect of identity fraud at several banks and credit unions on Long Island. They would eventually discover the defendants allegedly created more than 20 identities and obtained loans and credit accounts from 19 different institutions. They said the investigation was conducted alongside the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, California police and DAs as well as several credit bureaus. The investigation is still ongoing, Sini said.
Of the 13 individuals charged, Viki Osredkar, 35 of East Northport, was charged with multiple counts of grand larceny, falsifying business records and scheme to defraud. Osredkar is one of 10 from Long Island to be charged by a grand jury.
An additional three companies have been charged with money laundering. District Attorney Tim Sini said all these companies are owned by the same individual, Adam Arena, 43, of Corona, California.
“Some of the people involved in this scheme had strong financial backgrounds and recruited individuals who were down on their luck, offering them cash, for assistance in this operation,” Hart said in a release. “Together, they stole more than a million dollars but fortunately, our dedicated team unraveled their plot and are holding the perpetrators accountable.”
The crime goes like this: participants would allegedly create synthetic identities by associating a stolen social security number with a different name, address and date of birth. The social security numbers usually involved children, recent immigrants, elderly or anyone else not likely to monitor their credit history.
Perpetrators would allegedly make the identities more legitimate by applying for phone accounts, email records, library cards and more. They would then allegedly build credit for the fake identities. Using that credit, they would take out loans and credit card accounts. They would use this credit to the maximum amount allowed but the balances would never be paid.
Among the banks the individuals allegedly defrauded included State Farm, USAA, Suffolk Federal Credit Union, Teachers Federal Credit Union among many others.
“This is an extremely complex crime and it can be very difficult to identify the perpetrators, but the team who is investigating and prosecuting this case meticulously followed the evidence and unraveled this scheme, which has far-reaching impacts on everyday citizens,” Sini said in a release. “We will seek justice for all of the victims — both the financial institutions that have been defrauded and the individual victims whose identities were stolen by these criminals.”