YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A Cliffside Park woman and a Jersey City man were among eight people arrested on charges of participating in a ring that used drug addicts and the homeless to make $150,000 worth of bogus withdrawals from New Jersey TD Bank branches, state authorities said this afternoon.
The crew used “an old-school approach” by enlisting people to pose as account holders, sending them into the banks to make withdrawls using identification information that a former teller stole from customers, Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said.
The fake account holders included drug addicts and homeless people “who were sometimes provided with clothing to wear in the banks,” Hoffman said.
Crew members also gave them forged New York driver’s licenses and already-completed withdrawal slips, he added.
Twenty-one individual thefts using eight stolen identities ranged from $3,500 to $9,000, Hoffman said.
Seven of the defendants were indicted by a grand jury in Trenton on Oct. 28.
The alleged ringleader, Divine D. Garcia Jr., 28, of Jersey City, was grabbed a month ago today at LaGuardia Airport in Queens by members of the U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force and Port Authority police.
Marhals and state detectives arrested the eighth defendant, Antonio Clemente, 34, of the Bronx, this morning.
Garcia received customer account information from 27-year-old Bronthie Charles of Brooklyn, who worked for the bank from January 2012 to May of this year, Hoffman said.
Garcia was assisted by Clemente, who is accused of recruiting people to pose as bank account holders, he said.
Other members of the ring included 43-year-old Blanche R. Lopez of Cliffside Park; Robert A. Wadiak, 47, and Demira D. Woodson, 22, both of Roselle Park; Rosa Samuels, 59, of the Bronx and Kenneth L. Cummings, 53, of Philadelphia, Pa., Hoffman said.
“Identity theft is a major concern for financial institutions and an even greater concern for account holders, particularly in this era of electronic transactions,” the attorney general said.
The investigation was conducted by Detectives Richard Loufik, Edward Augustyn III, Anne Hayes, Eric Ludwick, Shawn Gorlin and Sgt. Frederick Weidman, under the supervision of Lt. David Nolan and Deputy Chief Al Buecker, all of the the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau.
Deputy Attorney General Peter Gallagher presented the case to the state grand jury.
Hoffman thanked the U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey Police for helping catch Garcia and Clemente. He also thanked the Queens and Bronx District Attorney’s Offices in New York and the New York City Police Department for their “valuable assistance.”
Garcia was being held on Rikers Island pending extradition. Clemente also was in custody in New York, Hoffman said.
Wadiak was being held in the Atlantic County Jail. Samuels was jailed in Bucks County, Pa.
The other defendants were issued summonses to appear for arraignment on Dec. 20 in Superior Court in Camden County.
MUGSHOTS: Courtesy NJ ATTORNEY GENERAL
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