Bergen County Resident Pleads Guilty to His Role in a Large-Scale Identity Theft Ring and Tax Evasion
|U.S. Attorney’s Office September 12, 2013|
NEWARK, NJ—A Bergen County, New Jersey man today admitted his role in a large-scale and sophisticated identity theft scheme, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Matthew J. Kang, 44, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden to an information charging him with conspiracy to unlawfully produce identification documents and false identification documents (count one), conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting financial institutions and bank fraud (count two), aggravated identity theft (count three), conspiracy to commit bank fraud (count four), and tax evasion (count five).
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Kang, an independent loan broker, conspired with Sang-Hyun Park, a/k/a “Jimmy,” and others to obtain a Social Security card beginning with the prefix “586.” These 586 Social Security cards were issued by the United States to individuals, usually from China, who were employed in American territories, such as Guam. Park was the leader of a criminal organization, identified in court papers as “the Park criminal enterprise,” headquartered in Bergen County, that obtained, brokered, and sold identity documents to customers for the purpose of committing credit card fraud, bank fraud, tax fraud, and other crimes. Park pleaded guilty on January 9, 2012, related to his role in the enterprise and is pending sentencing.
The Park criminal enterprise engaged in the fraudulent “build up” of credit scores associated with the Chinese identities. They did so by adding the Chinese identity as an authorized user to the credit card accounts of various conspirators who received a fee for this service—members of the enterprise’s credit build-up teams. By attaching the Chinese identities to these existing credit card accounts, the teams increased the credit scores associated with the Chinese identities. The members of the build-up teams knew neither the real person to whom the identity belonged nor virtually any of the customers who had purchased the identities.
After building the credit scores associated with these identities, Park and his conspirators directed, coached, and assisted his customers to open bank accounts and obtain credit cards. Park and his conspirators then used these accounts and credit cards to commit fraud. Park relied on several collusive merchants who possessed credit card processing, or swipe, machines. For a fee, known as a “kkang fee,” these collusive merchants charged the fraudulently obtained credit cards, although no transaction took place. After receiving the money into their merchant accounts from the credit card related to these fraudulent transactions, the collusive merchants gave the money to Park and his conspirators, minus their kkang fee.
Kang admitted that he obtained and brokered 586 Social Security cards and counterfeit driver’s licenses through Park for others. Kang further admitted that as a member of a “build-up” team, he fraudulently established credit histories and scores for customers using these 586 identities. Kang and his conspirators used these fraudulently obtained identities to obtain credit cards and to obtain bank loans. Kang also admitted that he brokered numerous commercial loans through false statements and documents. Kang and his conspirators caused more than $4 million in financial losses.
Kang admitted that he committed tax evasion by receiving income, including commission and fees from loans he had brokered, funneling this income through his corporate accounts and then using these funds for personal expenses. Kang admitted that around April 15, 2008, he filed an individual income tax return for tax year 2007 that declared that his taxable income for calendar year 2007 was $73,741. Kang admitted that this return failed to include $74,647 in additional taxable income that he had received in 2007, thus having an additional tax of $28,705 due to the United States.
Kang faces the following statutory maximums: five years in prison (count one); 30 years in prison (count two and four); two years in prison, mandatory minimum (count three), and five years’ imprisonment (count five). Sentencing is scheduled for January 6, 2014. He was arrested on September 16, 2010, and released on $250,000 bail.
U.S. Attorney Fishman praised special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford in Newark; IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Shantelle P. Kitchen; the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Andrew M. McLees; and the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor John L. Molinelli, and the Office’s Chief of Detectives Steven Cucciniello for the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anthony Moscato of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Organized Crime/Gangs Unit and Jane Yoon of the Healthcare and Government Fraud Unit in Newark.
As for other members of the Park Criminal Enterprise, the charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.