FAIRVIEW, N.J. -- Nine defendants were in custody and 11 more were being sought in connection with a massive identity theft and fraud ring that stretched from Bergen County to Philadelphia, authorities announced Wednesday.
It began when Fairview police joined the Bergen County Prosecutor's White Collar Crimes Unit, the FBI and several other law enforcement agencies in arresting the accused ringleader, Liberian national Miokar B. Wehye, in February of this year after an 11-month investigation into complaints by various Bergen County small business owners of ID theft and fraud, Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said.
Wehye, 42, of HIllside, "orchestrated an elaborate fraudulent scheme to steal in excess of $100,000 from victims’ bank accounts," Molinelli said.
He did so by "changing the victims’ mailing address, opening bank accounts in victims’ names, using counterfeit checks to make illegal withdrawals from victims’ bank accounts and applying for fraudulent business loans in victims’ names," the prosecutor said.
Wehye has remained held on at $50,000 bail in the Bergen County Jail since then.
More agencies became involved as investigators uncovered "a sophisticated ring of co-conspirators who acted in concert to steal individual and corporate identities and then to commit fraud by utilizing the identities to open fraudulent bank accounts, impersonate victims, and produce and negotiate fraudulent and counterfeit checks," Molinelli said.
Wehye and his common-law wife, Rachel Horace, 29, were charged with receiving a 2014 Range Rover taken at gunpoint from its owner in Elizabeth this past January, he said. Horace was being held on $25,000 bail.
Other defendants arrested yesterday were charged with conspiring to traffic in personal identification.
Several are from Philadelphia: Benjamin Pritchett, 38; Patrick J. Finnegan, 23; Bendu Massaquoi, 23; Sylvia Tarawalley, 36; Saye S. Jeffrey, 42.
Also arrested were Amy L Bates, 32, of East Orange; and Thembekile Dube, 29, of Clifton Heights, PA.
Those arrested in Pennsylvania "were charged as fugitives from justice and were lodged in local jails pending extradition hearings," Molinelli said.
Being sought as fugitives, he said:
Jenon L. Bostwick, 22, of East Orange;
Calvin Holloway, 54, of Trenton;
Anthony W. Carpowich, 49, of Trenton;
Eslie Wehye, 42, of Lansdowne, PA;
Eku Victor Mante, 41, of Bristol, PA;
Jeffrey Adams, 44; Joseph Simmonds, 42; Young W. Dixon, 33; Joslyn Figueroa, 30; Eronus Blay, 38; and Hector Saye, 35, all of Philadelphia.
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