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Fake ID Sellers Busted in $1 Million Scheme, AG Says

By Andrea Swalec | January 12, 2012 10:08pm
Three brothers are accused of selling fake IDs as part of an identity theft ring that brought in more than $1 million.
Three brothers are accused of selling fake IDs as part of an identity theft ring that brought in more than $1 million.
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MANHATTAN — Three brothers who allegedly sold fake IDs out of a pair of Greenwich Village smoke shops were arrested Thursday for taking part in an elaborate scheme that ripped off the identities of more than 180 New Yorkers to net more than $1 million in stolen goods, authorities charged.

Ali Abdul Hussein, 33, Mahmoud "Mike" Abdul Hussein, 27, and Fadal "Tony" Abdul Hussein, 22, are accused of participating in a seven-person identity theft ring that began in 2008 or earlier, the state attorney general's office announced Thursday.  

“These individuals systematically victimized over 180 New Yorkers in an elaborate scheme to line their own pockets, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in the statement.

"Today’s arrests send a strong message to identity thieves in this state: they will be caught and prosecuted."

The Hussein brothers, who live on Long Island, allegedly made counterfeit driver's licenses based on the names, social security numbers and other data from more than 180 people using store credit cards at Kmart, Sears, Home Depot and other stores, provided by Phillip Smith, 54, of The Bronx, the AG's office said.

The fake IDs that bore the names of female credit card holders and photo of Bronx resident Melissa Morton, 24, who then allegedly impersonated the cardholders at store locations in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Morton allegedly told the businesses that she forgot her credit card, then used the fake ID and social security number to charge merchandise to the accounts, later returning the goods for store credit and gift cards, the statement said.

Randy White, 56, of The Bronx, and Francis Hidalgo, 44, of Rockland County, are accused of then illegally selling the store credit and gift cards to others in the ring, for approximately 70 percent of its face value, or using it to buy materials for their businesses.

Court authorized wiretaps of the defendants' phones helped break up the ring, the statement said.

According to court documents, the Hussein brothers sold fake IDs out of Smoke Express at 29 W. 8th St. until the shop was closed in 2010 for selling an ID to an undercover NYPD officer, according to federal court documents.

The Hussein brothers, who also operated out of a shop on Thompson Street, have each been charged with conspiracy to produce fake driver's licenses and could receive a maximum of 15 years in prison.

Smith and Morton have been charged with conspiracy to commit access device fraud, conspiracy to produce fake licenses and aggravated identity theft and could receive up to 22 years in prison each.

Hidalgo and White face up to five years on charges of conspiracy to commit access device fraud.