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Post date: January 20 2015

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Guilty Pleas And Prison Terms For Identity Thieves Who Targeted Bank Customers In Westchester And NYC

Both Defendants Face Years In Jail For Stealing Over $850,000 From Personal Bank Accounts Of Innocent Customers

Schneiderman: Identity Theft Must Be Met With Tough Prosecution So Businesses And Consumers Can Know That They Are Being Protected

WESTCHESTER -- Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the conviction of Tyrone “Reece” Lee, 28, and Anthony “Sug” Davis, 29, both of the Bronx, who pleaded guilty to participating in a brazen identity-theft ring that targeted customers of local banks. The ring stole over $850,000 by using bank tellers to fraudulently obtain the personal information of hundreds of unsuspecting customers, and then creating fake identification cards to withdraw money from the accounts.

“Identity theft is a growing and complex problem, but today, we've brought justice to two individuals who ran a major ring that targeted the identities of innocent bank customers,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Identity theft must be met with tough prosecution so that businesses and consumers can know that they are being protected. Today’s conviction sends a strong message. If you commit this kind of crime, you will face jail time.”

Lee, who was the scheme’s ringleader, pleaded guilty today to the 37-count indictment lodged against him in Westchester County Supreme Court before the Honorable Justice Barry E. Warhit, including two counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (a class C felony), eleven counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a Class D felony), eighteen counts of Identity Theft in the First Degree (a Class D felony), three counts of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree ( a Class D felony), and three counts of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree (a Class E felony). In exchange for his plea, Justice Warhit agreed to sentence Lee to 4 and ½ to 9 years in state prison.

Additionally, Davis pleaded guilty before Justice Warhit to one count of Identity Theft in the First Degree (a Class D felony) and one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree (a Class E felony). In exchange for his plea, Justice Warhit agreed to sentence Davis to 2 to 6 years in state prison. Davis was recently sentenced on a federal identify theft case to 10 years in federal prison.

The identify-theft ring operated between July 2010 and June 2014. Corrupt bank tellers fraudulently accessed and stole the personal information, including account numbers and Social Security numbers, from hundreds of customers at Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, HSBC, TD Bank and Wachovia in Westchester and New York City.

Lee was the ringleader, who orchestrated the hiring of corrupt bank tellers at Westchester and NYC area banks. He directed the bank tellers to target customers with common names and over $50,000 in their accounts. After the customer information was smuggled to him, Lee conspired with Davis to create fraudulent checks and identification documents using the stolen customer information. Lee arranged for other ring members to impersonate bank account holders to withdraw money at area banks.

Davis’ role in the ring was to create an array of fake documents using the stolen personal and financial data, including forged checks and driver’s licenses that contained victims’ personal information, but displayed the photographs of other ring members. These fake documents were then used to impersonate the account holders and to withdraw money at bank branches in Westchester County, New York City and Long Island, as well as Connecticut and Massachusetts.

This prosecution was the culmination of a long-term investigation by the Attorney General’s Crime Proceeds Strike Force, including court-authorized wiretaps and search warrants. In intercepted telephone calls and text messages, co-conspirators spoke in code about customer accounts, which they referred to as “joints,” and to the “bands” of money they would steal, referring to $1000 stacks of cash. They also used code names to refer to the banks they targeted, including “touchdown” for TD Bank and “Yase” for JP Morgan Chase.

Among the New York bank branches whose customers were victimized by this identify theft ring are:

  • Bank of America: 206 Main Street, White Plains, NY;
  • JP Morgan Chase: 235 Main Street, White Plains, NY; 
  • JP Morgan Chase: 410 South Broadway, Yonkers, NY; 
  • JP Morgan Chase: 5 West Burnside Avenue, Bronx, NY; 
  • HSBC: 1 East Fordham Road, Bronx, NY; 
  • Bank of America: 50 West Fordham Road, Bronx, NY; 
  • Bank of America: 479 North Broadway, Jericho, NY; and
  • Wachovia (now Wells Fargo): 43 North Plank Road, Newburgh, NY 

Both Lee and Davis are scheduled to be sentenced to their prison terms on April 2, 2015.

Attorney General Schneiderman thanks the New York State Department of Financial Services, the Westchester County District Attorney's Office, and the White Plains Police Department for their assistance in this matter.

The case is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Tyler Reynolds and Rhonda Greenstein of the Attorney General’s Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crime Bureau. The bureau is led by Bureau Chief Gary T. Fishman and Deputy Bureau Chiefs Meryl Lutsky and Stephanie Swenton. The Division of Criminal Justice is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Kelly Donovan.

The investigation was conducted by Legal Support Analyst Theo Davidson, Investigators Steve Pratt, Vincent Gisonti, Sylvia Rivera, Israel Hernandez, Ryan Fannon and Dave Negron and Larry Riccio, Senior Investigator Dennis Maddalone, Supervising Investigator John Sullivan, and Deputy Chief Investigators John McManus and Greg Stasiuk. The Investigations Division is led by Chief Investigator Dominick Zarrella.