The New York Attorney General's office has charged five individuals, including three bank tellers, with running an identity-theft ring that stole $850,000 from some of New York's biggest banks over a four-year period.
The defendants allegedly lifted personal information of hundreds of unsuspecting customers - account numbers and Social Security numbers, for example - and used the information to withdraw money from those accounts. The tellers worked for branches of Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, HSBC, TD Bank and Wachovia in the Bronx, and Westchester and Orange Counties among others.
The defendants allegedly used the stolen information to create fake drivers licenses and cheques, which they used to withdraw money at bank branches.
During the investigation, investigators used court-authorised wiretaps to intercept telephone calls and text messages. The defendants were overheard speaking in code about customer accounts, which they called "joints," the "bands" of money they would steal (referring to $1000 stacks of cash) and the banks they intended to target, including "touchdown" for TD Bank and "Yase" for JP Morgan Chase.
Announcing the indictment, attorney general Eric Scheiderman says: "Bank tellers have access to our most sensitive financial information and we must be able to trust that our data will remain safe and secure. Identity theft is a complex and growing problem, and we must redouble our efforts to ensure that all of us - from large corporations, to small businesses and families - are better protected."