Sang-Hyun Park, 45 years old, South Korea native, pleaded guilty to charges of identity theft in Newark court on Monday. He is considered a head of gang as big as 54 members arrested in September 2010 by Federal Authorities. For over 3 years the gang was running a sophisticated identity theft scheme on an unprecedented scale. First the group hijacked Social Security numbers from Chinese immigrants working in oversea American territories such Guam, Saipan and Samoa; then they opened credit card accounts using stolen identities and ran them in perfect standing so the credit card score would get to 700 or more allowing for substantial credit limit increase. Having hefty credit cards on hand as well as potential to get even more debt from financial institutions the gang robbed banks for close to $4 million. Many stores were involved into fake sales allowing direct money transfer from credit card companies, lots of luxury goods have been bought as well. Stolen SS# were also sold to Korean immigrants seeking US state ID cards and driver’s license. These individuals applied for state identification documents in California, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Nevada and New York. The gang full scale operation included advertising in Korean press, running shell businesses, hiring identity brokers and credit score boosters; part of the profit is believed to be laundered off shore.
Park immigrated to the US from Seoul in 1999 planning to start a business of raw materials import, after 9/11 attacks when the business slowed down severely he borrowed $100k from his mother to keep cash fluidity. After running out of money he started the id theft scheme claiming it was to pay his mother back.
Under the plea agreement Park faces 12 years in prison for five felony counts: conspiracy to unlawfully produce identification documents and false identification documents; conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting financial institutions and bank fraud; aggravated identity theft; money laundering; and conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service. After serving his sentence Park will most likely get deported to Korea as he’s not US citizen.