Police arrested five people who allegedly ran a loan fraud and an identity theft ring that attempted to steal over $1 million. They were charged with grand larceny, identity theft and scheme to defraud.
Authorities said the “highly sophisticated” operation targeted the Nassau Educators Federal Credit Union, along with four other major credit unions. Ring members stole the identities of hundreds of individuals, including Mineola hospital employees and teachers from Nassau County. They assumed doctors and teachers were likely to have good credit scores.
The alleged ringleader Dacson Sears, 36, could face between five to 15 years in prison if convicted. Sears, who runs a credit repair service from his Brooklyn residence, was accused of using his industry knowledge to further the scheme.
Over the course of a year, Sears filed over 100 loan applications using the stolen identities of more than 500 people from all over the country. Loans were opened online in amounts between $7,500 and $35,000 using fake utility bills, tax documents and phone numbers. The identities were sourced from a variety of places such as school and hospital websites. Additional information about the individuals was purchased through the Dark Web.
The ring allegedly stole around $250,000 from the credit unions and spent it on airplane tickets, car loans, rent and other personal expenses. Authorities said the figure is likely to increase as the investigation continues.
The alleged ring members were arrested after a six-month investigation that began when the Nassau Educators Federal Credit Union reported unusual activity. They noticed that the defendants allegedly opened accounts using postal money orders. The other credit unions also suspected a problem when certain loans were not being repaid.