US indicts 27 in Apple product credit-card fraud ring

The group allegedly manufactured fake credit cards to buy Apple iPads, iPods and MacBooks

New York prosecutors indicted 27 people on Wednesday as part of a crime ring that bought Apple iPods, iPads and other products with stolen credit card information for resale in the criminal underground.

In raids conducted Feb. 1, agents seized $US300,000 in cash, three firearms and ammunition as well as equipment to make fake credit cards from the gang, which split into two operations running from June 2008 through the end of last year, according to a press release from the Manhattan District Attorney's Office.

The credit card details and stolen identity information was purchased from "online data traffickers via web-based portals, and the purchasers would store the stolen credit card information in shared e-mail accounts, allowing several defendants to begin creating counterfeit credit cards," prosecutors said.

The defendants, who called their gang "S3," allegedly recruited other people to go into Apple stores with the fake credit cards paired with real names and stolen account information. Those involved would allegedly buy various Apple products and gift cards from stores in New York, Florida, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Connecticut, Alabama, Oregon, Indiana, Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

The goods would be moved to middlemen in Brooklyn, who would buy the goods at retail value from the gang and sell them for a profit.

The defendants who were indicted were charged with offenses ranging from grand larceny, forgery and criminal possession of a forged instrument. There are a total of 57 counts in two indictments, according to the district attorney's office.

The investigation, conducted with the New York County District Attorney's Office's Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau, U.S. Secret Service and cybercrime analysts, is continuing.

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