At least 13 persons of Indian origin are among 111 people charged in the busting of a $13 million global crime ring, the biggest in US history involved in forged credit cards and identity theft.
Announcing the uncovering of the ring on Friday, Queens county district attorney Richard Brown called it the largest and perhaps most sophisticated ring of its kind in US history.
Authorities hired translators to eavesdrop on a series of conversations in Arabic, Russian and Mandarin that led police to 86 suspects in a series of raids that started on Tuesday, Brown said.
He said the defendants, who were charged with stealing the personal credit information of thousands of unwitting American and European users, are allegedly members of five organised crime rings with ties to Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East, CNN reported. Twenty-five others remain at large, Brown added.
All of the 111 suspects were indicted in the theft case, while nearly two dozen of them were also charged in six indictments related to burglaries and robberies.
Several suspects are believed to have engaged in "nationwide shopping sprees, staying at five-star hotels, renting luxury automobiles and private jets, and purchasing tens of thousands of dollars worth of high-end electronics and expensive handbags and jewellery with forged credit cards," the Queens county district attorney's office reported.
The two-year probe, dubbed “Operation Swiper”, involved physical surveillance, intelligence gathering and court-authorised electronic eavesdropping on dozens of telephones, in which thousands of conversations were intercepted, it said.
The indictments charge that Imran Khan, Ali Khweiss, Anthony Martin, Sanjay Deowsarran and Amar Singh were “bosses” of criminal enterprises and received the necessary raw material - lists of credit card account numbers and various blank credit cards.
Among the Indian-origin people charged are Vishnu Harilal, Ravindra Singh, Amar Singh, Neha Punjabi Singh, Ravi Ramroop and Kamal Sanasi.