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Press Release | NO. 2003-005

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Press Release # 005
Friday, January 24, 2003

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly And Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown Announce Major Takedown Of Credit Card Fraud Ring

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly and Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown today announced the takedown of a major credit card fraud operation at a press conference at One Police Plaza. Police arrested five people under several charges, including criminal possession of forged instruments, criminal possession of a weapon, and criminal possession of a controlled substance.

During an early morning raid on Thursday, January 23, in the Corona section of Queens, police arrested the leader of the organization, Joseph Guglielmo, 44; his wife Ava Guglielmo, 35; Steven Neilsen, 45; Anthony Davids, 60; and his son Anthony Davids, Jr., 33, who police believe is linked to the Genovese crime family. Detectives also executed four search warrants at locations including Guglielmo's residence at 43-03 104th Street; Guglielmo's garage on 103rd Street between Strong and Lewis Avenues; and the Davids' office and junkyard at 53-03 103rd Street.

Commissioner Kelly said, "These criminals stole credit card information, made copies of those credits cards, and sold them on the black market. They also bought expensive items with the fake cards, and made hundred of thousands of dollars selling that merchandise at large discounts. But yesterday we brought their scheme to an end. Identity theft is problem that victimizes all credit card holders and credit card companies. This investigation sends another clear example to people who try this in New York City: We will do everything in our power to stop this type of crime."

District Attorney Brown said, "These arrests strike another blow against identity thieves who are becoming a major threat to consumers by stealing their personal identities and using them to plunder the marketplace and destroy the credit and reputations of tens of thousands of Americans. Identity theft is the leading consumer fraud complaint among New Yorkers. Fortunately, New York's new identity theft law now makes identity theft a serious felony punishable by up to seven years in prison. In this investigation it is alleged that a gang of thieves set up a phony credit card factory in Corona, Queens in order to defraud consumers by stealing and misusing their identity information. Those victimized now face damaged reputations and bad credit reports, as well as the prospect of months and months of aggravation to rectify the false information in their credit histories. My office will vigorously prosecute these defendants and will advocate imposition of maximum sentences upon their conviction."

Members of the NYPD Queens North Narcotics District launched the investigation in November 2002, after they were tipped off that "Crazy Joe" Guglielmo was selling stacks of cloned credits cards, as well as expensive merchandise at large discounts. While detectives gathered substantial evidence against Guglielmo, they identified his four associates and uncovered this scheme.

Guglielmo made deals with cashiers and check-out employees at several stores in Queens, including pharmacies, shoe shops and large convenience stores. He gave them devices known as "skimmers," which record all the critical information off a credit card when it is swiped through.

Guglielmo paid these employees $50 for every credit card they swiped when a customer wasn't looking. When he was arrested, Guglielmo possessed information on more than 4,300 credit cards.

With names, credit card numbers and expirations dates, Guglielmo manufactured credit card clones by using high-tech equipment, including magnetic strip encoders, hologram machines, and laser scanners. He and his associates either sold these credit cards, or used them to purchase expensive items to be resold for cash.

While executing the search warrants, detectives found more than 200 "cloned" credit cards, two handguns, 11 police shields, and enough cocaine to warrant felony charges. They also found stacks of receipts for big-ticket items, as well as merchandise including computers, power tools, and expensive oak flooring material.

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