Feds file charges in identity theft ring
Three Long Island men were among seven defendants charged in federal court Thursday with running an identity theft ring that targeted customer accounts at major retailers such as The Home Depot, Sears and Kohl's.
Three brothers from Seaford -- Mahmoud Hussein, 27, Ali Hussein, 33, and Fadal Hussein, 22 -- were charged with manufacturing fake driver's licenses for the thieves out of two smoke shops they owned in Greenwich Village.
According to Manhattan federal prosecutors, the ring linked stolen Social Security numbers with customer accounts at the stores, then used the fake licenses to impersonate customers and acquire merchandise, gift cards and store credits that could be resold for a profit.
The scheme, operating since 2008, caused losses of about $1 million to more than 180 New Yorkers, according to the complaint.
Alleged ringleader Phillip Smith, 54, and co-defendant Melissa Morton, 24, both of the Bronx, were charged with two conspiracy counts and aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory 2-year sentence on conviction. The other defendants were charged with conspiracy.
The seven were arrested Thursday and made their initial appearance in federal court in Manhattan in the late afternoon.