Two North Jersey women on Monday admitted to their roles in a “sophisticated” identity theft scheme that scammed banks and credit card companies out of more than $2 million, federal prosecutors said.
Rita S. Kim, 49, of Fort Lee, and Hyon-Suk Chung, 50, of North Bergen, each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud charges before U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman announced in a statement.
The pair conspired with with Sang-Hyun Park, who obtained social security cards beginning with the prefix “586,” according to prosecutors. The cards were issued by the United States to Chinese immigrants who were working in American territories, including Guam.
“The individuals from China who were issued these Social Security numbers never established credit files or scores in the United States – these Chinese identities were essentially blank slates with no corresponding credit files or scores,” the statement said. “Kim and Chung engaged in the fraudulent build-up of credit scores associated with these Chinese identities by adding them as authorized users to their credit card accounts in exchange for a fee from Park and his associates.”
Kim and Chung boosted their credit scores using the Chinese identities to between 700 and 800, and admitted they used about 100 identities, according to prosecutors.
The two face a maximum five year prison term and forfeiture of more than $2 million at sentencing Jan. 8, 2014. Park, the convicted ringleader, pleaded guilty last year and is also awaiting sentencing. Federal agents nabbed the three and more than 50 others in September 2010.