Massive Apple, credit card fraud ring busted
A massive credit card fraud operation that allowed a large crew of buyers to bilk nearly $1 million from Apple was finally cracked, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced Wednesday.
Two Brooklyn men — Shaheed “Sha” Bilal, 28, and Anthony Harper, 28 — purchased credit card information from overseas websites, and then encoded the stolen numbers in the magnetic strips of fake credit cards, officials said. The two men made sure that the fake cards bore the real names of their underlings.
The buyers would then purchase large numbers of iPads, iPods and MacBook laptops that they would turn around and sell for cash at a discount.
The ring was highly profitable and lasted from June 2008 to December 2010, in part because the suspects bought the goods with credit cards bearing their own names, officials said. Apparently any identification that might have been connected to the credit card number itself did not register when swiped at the Apple checkout counter.
Vance also announced Wednesday the arrest of 26 suspected members of the operation, all from Brooklyn and Queens. The purchases were made at a number of stores as far away as Levittown, Oregon and Florida.
The scheme, dubbed “S3”, continued even while Bilal was jailed for a period at Rikers Island, officials said. He managed to relay messages to his girlfriend and partner who handled the daily operations.
During Bilal’s arrest officers reportedly found $300,000 in cash, credit-card manufacturing tools, three guns and ammunition.