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Three Indicted for $50K+ Retail Fraud

Three Bronx men have been indicted for allegedly carrying out a scheme that included using fraudulently obtained credit cards to steal from a number of Westchester County stores.

Targets included TJ Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods, and HomeSense locations in Yorktown Heights, Yonkers, New Rochelle, Port Chester, Hartsdale, the Bronx and elsewhere.

The indictments were announced by Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino Jr.

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Charged on 54 counts were Donald Ilo, Patrick Onogwu, and Asanimo Riesa. Onogwu and Riesa were arraigned in Westchester County Court before Judge David S. Zuckerman on Nov. 4. Ilo was not immediately arrested and there was a warrant out for him.

Two other individuals — Hassan Miller and Dawn Anderson of Mount Vernon — had previously pleaded guilty to being involved in the scheme and were sentenced to 1.5 to 4.5 years in state prison by Zuckerman.

It was alleged that the individuals used a special machine to make forged US passport cards, and then used those cards and took other steps to fraudulently obtain credit cards from TJX Companies, the parent company of TJ Maxx, Marshalls and other retailers.

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Scarpino’s announcement said that the credit cards would be used to charge TJX merchandise, which was never paid for.

According to reports, the defendants returned some of the stolen merchandise to TJX stores on different dates. When the returns were made, it is alleged the defendants manipulated the refund procedure by obtaining the refund to a debit card, thereby effectively converting the stolen merchandise into cash.

Eight specific alleged steps in the scheme were identified:

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  • Obtaining the personal identifying information, including Social Security numbers, of victims
  • Making or causing to have made forged U.S. passport cards and driver’s licenses bearing a defendant’s photo but the name and date of birth of a victim
  • Completing handwritten TJX Rewards credit card applications using victims’ personal identifying information, including Social Security numbers
  • Forging victims’ signatures on credit application customer verifications
  • Obtaining a TJX Rewards credit card account via a temporary shopping pass and using it to pay for merchandise in TJX stores
  • Using victims’ personal identifying information, including Social Security numbers, to open checking accounts linked to debit cards
  • Returning merchandise at TJX stores using those debit cards
  • Withdrawing the money received from the fraudulent returns from the checking accounts linked to the debit cards

The three newly-indicated defendants are charged with felonies including conspiracy, grand larceny, identify theft, forgery, and criminal possession of a forged instrument. In addition, there are lesser misdemeanor charges of criminal possession and identify theft.

The indictment said that the conspiracy was carried out from June 13, 2018, through Aug. 14, 2019, and involved the theft of more than $50,000…  Westchester & Fairfield County Business Journal

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