Defendants Stole More Than $1 Million Dollars from J.P. Morgan Chase Bank

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced a 148-count indictment of six members of a large-scale identity theft and cybercrime ring for stealing more than $1 million from J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, compromising at least 80 victims’ accounts at various bank branches.[1]

“Over the course of two years, accused criminals and corrupt bank employees colluded to defraud J.P. Morgan Chase and withdraw more than $1 million from the bank accounts of unwitting victims,” said District Attorney Vance. “The ring both pickpocketed these victims on the street, and colluded with the bank employees, to steal personal identification that in turn enabled the criminal organization to withdraw significant funds from bank branches from New York to Texas and Michigan. I would like to thank our Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau and J.P. Morgan Chase Bank for working together to ensure that this identity theft ring was brought to justice.”

The defendants are RICHARD DAMES, a/k/a "G," a/k/a “GK,” a/k/a “GEOVANNI KASANOVA,” 33; JAMALUDDIN ALMAHDI, a/k/a “RICK,” 66; WAYNE MITCHELL, a/k/a “WAYNE-O,” 42; RICKY MCCANTS, 30; MAKILA WILLIAMS, 25; and KIA WYLIE, 30. They have been indicted on multiple felony charges, including Grand Larceny in the First Degree, Identity Theft in the First and Second Degrees, and Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree. In addition, MCCANTS and WYLIE have been indicted on numerous counts of Computer Trespass. The crimes charged in the indictment occurred between February 17, 2009, and February 4, 2011.

According to documents filed in court, the identity theft ring is alleged to have operated as follows:

Members of the ring either pickpocketed victims or worked with J.P. Morgan Chase Bank employees whom they paid to obtain victim personal identifying information by infiltrating the bank’s computer system. In some cases, MITCHELL and his accomplices used some of the stolen property of victims who were pickpocketed to commit fraud weeks or months after the victim had been pickpocketed. In other instances, Chase Bank employees MCCANTS, WILLIAMS, WYLIE, and previously charged defendant Jon Emerenciano stole accountholder information—such as names, addresses, social security numbers, dates of birth, and account numbers—from the bank’s computer system and sold that information to DAMES and his co-conspirators. DAMES then provided the information to the members of the ring who would carry out the fraudulent bank transactions. The corrupt employees also copied accountholders’ bank signature cards, in order to allow members of the ring to better imitate a victim’s signature.

In addition, according to court documents, ALMAHDI conducted searches about the victims through internet websites, like ssndob.biz, to gain additional personal identifying information of victims. DAMES often ordered the victim’s credit report through annualcreditreport.com by impersonating the victim and entering his or her stolen personal identifying information as his own. DAMES and co-conspirators subsequently opened credit cards in victims’ names and purchased expensive items, including electronics, without paying for them.

On April 27, 2010, Bronx detectives conducted a search warrant at MITCHELL’s apartment and recovered, among other things, hundreds of stolen documents, including social security cards, driver’s licenses, checks, and credit cards, belonging to more than 100 different people. Some of the checks were from the same checkbooks used by Garnett, Walmsley, and Eli in carrying out fraudulent check cashings. Also recovered in MITCHELL’s apartment was a fraudulent identification card in a victim’s name containing Garnett’s picture. On December 29, 2010, Financial Crimes Task Force detectives conducted a search warrant at DAMES’s apartment, during which they recovered five stolen Chase Bank customer profiles.

In total, the defendants are alleged to have stolen more than $1 million dollars from J.P. Morgan Chase.

MCCANTS, WILLIAMS, and WYLIE have been fired by Chase Bank. Emerenciano was also previously fired by Chase Bank. DAMES and MCCANTS will be arraigned today in State Supreme Court. ALMAHDI, MITCHELL, WILLIAMS, and WYLIE are awaiting arraignment on this indictment.

District Attorney Vance thanked the Financial Crimes Task Force of the New York City Police Department, particularly Detectives Kevin Woods and Hector Rodriguez, the Computer Crimes Squad, and Investigator Karen Kelly of the New York County District Attorney’s Office for their assistance in the case. He also thanked the detectives of the Bronx Gang Squad and the Wappingers Falls Police Department.

District Attorney Vance also thanked J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, particularly Dorothy Petrillo, Jose Elias, James Guilfoyle, Robert Galarza, and Travis Gentile for their cooperation and assistance. He also thanked Charles Schwab Bank, eTrade, TD Ameritrade, Equifax, Experian, Transunion, EZ-Pass, and Diego Beekman Houses.

Assistant District Attorney Tracy Conn is handling the prosecution of the case and presented it to the Grand Jury under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney David Szuchman, Chief of the Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau. Cybercrime Analyst Richard Barbieri, former Cybercrime Analyst Joseph Marazzo, Senior Computer Forensic Analyst Selena Ley, Computer Forensics Analyst Jessica Ho, and former Computer Forensics Analyst Alex Allphin also assisted in the case.



Defendant Information:



RICHARD DAMES, D.O.B. 2/14/1978

Bronx, New York

Charges:

Grand Larceny in the First Degree, class B felony, 1 count
Identity Theft in the First Degree, class D felony, 82 counts
Identity Theft in the Second Degree, class E felony, 2 counts
Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, class E felony, 1 count



JAMALUDDIN ALMAHDI, D.O.B. 3/9/45

Hackensack, New Jersey

Charges:

Grand Larceny in the First Degree, class B felony, 1 count
Identity Theft in the First Degree, class D felony, 17 counts
Identity Theft in the Second Degree, class E felony, 1 count
Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, class E felony, 1 count



WAYNE MITCHELL, D.O.B. 8/26/68

Bronx, New York

Charges:

Grand Larceny in the First Degree, class B felony, 1 count
Identity Theft in the First Degree, class D felony, 7 counts
Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, class E felony, 1 count



RICKY MCCANTS, D.O.B. 6/11/81

Bronx, New York

Charges:

Grand Larceny in the First Degree, class B felony, 1 count
Identity Theft in the First Degree, class D felony, 64 counts
Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, class E felony, 1 count
Computer Trespass, class E felony, 31 counts



MAKILA WILLIAMS, D.O.B. 12/4/85

Bronx, New York

Charges:

Grand Larceny in the First Degree, class B felony, 1 count
Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, class E felony, 1 count



KIA WYLIE, D.O.B. 2/7/1981

New York, New York

Charges:

Grand Larceny in the First Degree, class B felony, 1 count
Identity Theft in the First Degree, class D felony, 19 counts
Identity Theft in the Second Degree, class E felony, 1 count
Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, class E felony, 1 count
Computer Trespass, class E felony, 9 counts



A class B felony is punishable by up to 25 years in prison, a class D felony is punishable by up to 7 years in prison, and a class E felony is punishable by up to 4 years in prison.



[1] The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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