By Shayna Jacobs
MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — The alleged ringleader of a counterfeit credit card scam that netted $1 million in gear from Apple stores all over Manhattan and beyond and sold it on the black market got his start with an alleged scam at a Barneys Co-Op in 2007, court records show.
Shaheed Bilal, 28, was arrested this week on charges he headed up a massive scheme to churn out dozens of fake credit cards embossed with real credit card numbers and put them in the hands of "shoppers" to buy Macbooks, iPods and iPhones for resale on the black market.
But court documents show that Bilal apparently began devising the scheme years earlier, getting busted four years ago after two of his alleged associates tried to use fake credit cards at the Barneys Co-Op on the Upper West Side.
Unlike his most recent alleged credit card scheme, which avoided the attention of Apple staffers for two years, Bilal's earlier attempts were immediately noticed by Barneys staff at the Co-Op store at 2151 Broadway at 75th Street.
They became suspicious of his fake credit cards and promptly reported the transaction to the Manhattan North Street Crime Unit, according to court records.
Bilal's alleged associates at the time, Kevin Dunn and Wendell Floyd, were so sloppy when making their $861.58 designer clothing purchase that they immediately pulled out a duplicated phony credit card after the first was declined, court documents show. It only served to raise additional red flags for store security.
The pair tried to flee the store in a rented Ford Expedition, but a quick-thinking staffer jotted down the license plate and reported it to police, along with a warning that staff "had never seen the type of card before that was presented," Police Officer Ann Labrada, who chased the car down and arrested those inside, said in a Manhattan Supreme Court hearing on June 7, 2010.
Labrada pulled the car over a few blocks from Barneys Co-Op, where she found Dunn and Floyd in the front seats and Bilal in the back, she said.
Police said there were several counterfeit MasterCards and American Express cards in the sunglasses holder and in one of the door compartments.
They also found phony licenses, credit cards and gift cards on their persons. Bilal had over $3,000 in cash on him when searched, Labrada testified.
"Some of the credit cards appeared to be fake, as I have never seen anything like some of them," Labrada said.
"Some of the spelling was off, and then I was able to verify that one of the licenses was fake," she added.
Bilal allegedly admitted to police that they had paid off a cashier at Barneys to accept the stolen cards.
But his confession and the evidence was deemed inadmissible by Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Richard Carruthers in a decision last year, on the grounds that the search and confession were obtained illegally.
That case is still open. Bilal is next expected to appear in court on the older case on Feb. 9.