Eighteen people have been charged in what federal prosecutors call one of the largest credit card fraud schemes ever uncovered by the U.S. Department of Justice, spanning 28 states and eight countries, according to a report from ABC News.
Court records note that the international fraud enterprise involved thousands of false identities, fraudulent identification documents, doctored credit reports and more than $200 million in confirmed losses.
The scheme involved three basic steps:
1. Create thousands of fake identities;
2. Pump up the credit histories of said fictitious people; and
3. Rack up charges on fraudulently obtained credit cards.
The “massive scope of the fraud,” court documents report, involved more than 25,000 fraudulent credit cards, and loss calculations are ongoing. The proceeds were used for luxury automobiles, electronics, spa treatments, high-end clothing and millions of dollars-worth in gold, ABC reports.
Prosecutors say that the scheme started with small purchases over an extended period of time to build the credit scores of false identities. Once good credit history was established, however, court records say defendants “ran up large loans” that were never repaid.