Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the sentencing of JOEL LUCIANO, 30, a ringleader of a well-organized check fraud ring responsible for stealing at least $450,000 from more than 90 accounts at TD Bank. He was sentenced to 3-to-9 years in state prison. On August 28, 2012, LUCIANO pleaded guilty to the top charge of the indictment, Grand Larceny in the Second Degree.
“Today, a ringleader is headed to prison,” said District Attorney Vance. “My Office’s Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau will continue to work to disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations that exploit loopholes in electronic banking and will remain vigilant against those who commit major frauds.”

According to documents filed in court and statements made on the record in court, from approximately August 2009 to May 2011, LUCIANO enlisted individuals to open personal savings and checking accounts at various TD Bank locations. Upon opening the accounts, the new account holders received Visa credit/ATM cards associated with the accounts. The individuals recruited by LUCIANO deposited bad checks drawn either from closed bank accounts or from accounts with insufficient funds, from banks other than TD Bank, into their newly-opened savings accounts at TD Bank. The criminal organization opened more than 90 bank accounts at TD Bank to deposit fraudulent checks, and then used special cash access locations to withdraw money from those accounts.

Including LUCIANO, the District Attorney’s Office obtained guilty pleas from 62 defendants in the multi-state, million-dollar scam. The successful prosecution of this check fraud ring is the result of an 18-month investigation, which used video surveillance, physical surveillance, computer forensics, and extensive analysis of credit card, banking, and phone records.

The investigation is ongoing.

Assistant District Attorney Kenn Kern, Deputy Chief of the Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Craig Ascher are handling the prosecution of this case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney David Szuchman, Deputy Chief of the Investigation Division and Chief of the Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau and Executive Assistant District Attorney Adam S. Kaufmann, Chief of the Investigation Division. The following individuals also assisted in the investigation: Cybercrime Analysts Benjamin DiNapoli and Bret Rubin of the Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau; Deputy Chief Investigator for Cybercrime Richard Brittson; Supervising Investigator Robert Muldoon and Investigator Erin Donovan of the District Attorney’s Investigations Bureau, under the supervision of Walter Alexander, Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Bureau; Administrative Assistant David Vega, of the District Attorney’s Vehicular Crimes Unit; Laurence Hayes of the High Technology Analysis Unit, and Investigator Sarah Zaveloff from the New York State Human Resources Administration.

District Attorney Vance thanked United States Postal Inspectors Adam Fornaro and Jeff Gerdes, of the United States Postal Inspectors, as well as Investigators at TD Bank, Global Cash Access, MCA Processing, and Western Union. District Attorney Vance also thanked the New York City Police Department and the Atlantic County, New Jersey, Prosecutors’ Office.

JOEL LUCIANO a/k/a JOEL TORRES, D.O.B. 10/25/1981
Bronx, New York

• Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 1 count

• 3 to 9 years in prison