Nine Long Islanders with ties to Turkey were charged with having roles in a $2 million bank fraud in which bogus charges were run up on credit cards at gas stations they controlled, according to officials and court papers.
The fraud was what officials called "a bust-out" scheme in which credit cards were obtained under false names and bills were run up at the credit card machines at the stations. But the banks were either paid a fraction of the bills or not at all, the papers said.
Those involved in the scheme, however, withdrew the money that was paid out by the credit card companies for the phony bills from the gas stations, and deposited the funds in their own accounts, the papers said.
The scheme began in October 2013 and continued through this month, the papers said.
Nine people, who were in the United States with varying immigration statuses, were identified as Aytun Akay of Westbury; Saim Salinoglu of Shirley; Halil Ibrahim Akarsu of Uniondale; Mehmet Uygun of North Bellmore; Hasan Ali Uyar of Deer Park; Tamer Kurnaz of Valley Stream; Erdogan Sezer, no address; and Sevinc Ipek of Bethpage and her husband, Ergin Ipek, also of Bethpage. All had ties to Turkey.
Akay, Salinoglu, Akarsu, Uygun, Uyar and Ergin Ipek were held without bail as flight risks by U.S. Magistrate Anne Shields at the federal District Court in Central Islip. Attorneys for the defendants who could be contacted declined to comment.
Sevinc Ipek was released on $50,000 bond. Her attorney, Gary Schoer of Syosset, argued that his client had a 7-month-old child whom she was nursing and it would be a hardship if she were detained. Schoer declined to comment afterward.
Sezer and Kurnaz are still being sought.
The gas stations through which the credit charges were made have operated under various names. They were identified in court papers by Eastern District Assistant United States Attorney Bradley King as: a Citgo station at 760 W. Merrick Rd., Valley Stream; Uygun Auto at 444 Jerusalem Ave., Uniondale; and Ipek Auto at 510 Uniondale Ave., Uniondale. The Uniondale address had been known as Uyar Auto until April, the papers said.
The financial institutions that issued the credit cards that were used in the fraud scheme included Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Capital One and TD Bank, the papers said.
In one example in the court papers, 22 credit cards were issued by Capital One to people with different names at an address in Shirley between March 2012 and April 2013. The total losses from these cards was $560,715, the papers said. King declined to comment afterward.