MINEOLA, New York -- Five people were arrested in a massive alleged loan fraud and identity theft ring in which they attempted to steal more than $1 million.
Five major credit unions, including Nassau Educators Federal Credit Union, and hundreds of individuals were allegedly targeted, officials said.
Over the course of a year, the alleged ringleader of the "highly sophisticated" operation filed more than 100 credit union loan requests using stolen identities of people with good credit, from all over the country, officials said.
The ring apparently found the identities of its victims from various sources, including school and hospital websites, and harvested additional information about them from the Dark Web. It then created profiles with their information and ran their credit reports.
The loans, taken out in amounts ranging from $7,500 to $35,000, were filed electronically under the stolen identities, using the names and social security numbers of the individuals. In many of the cases, a money order was used to open the loan, and once the credit union approved it, the loan money was deposited into bank accounts opened in the victims' names.
Officials said one suspect worked at Capital One as a banker and allegedly stolen account information and sold it to other members of the ring. She also opened accounts for the ring to use under victims' names.
Another suspect ran a credit repair service from his Brooklyn home.
The ring was allegedly able to successfully steal more than $200,000 and used it for personal expenses, including car loans, rent, and airline tickets. Officials said that amount is expected to increase as they recover evidence from search warrants. So far, victims have been identified in California, Illinois, New York, Minnesota Texas and Virginia.
The scheme came to light when the credit unions became aware of certain loans that were in arrears, and the suspects were arrested after a 6-month-long investigation.
Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas called this case "one of the largest identity theft cases we have ever investigated."
Those arrest include:
-- 36-year-old Dacson Sears, of Brooklyn, who was charged with two counts of grand larceny, three counts of identity theft, and scheme to defraud.
-- 32-year-old Nyantakyi Boateng, Perth Amboy, New Jersey, who was charged with two counts of grand larceny, identity theft, and scheme to defraud.
-- 28-year-old Konstantinos Toikas, of Brooklyn, who was charged with grand larceny, identity theft, and scheme to defraud.
-- 25-year-old Amber Mantock, of Queens, who was charged with grand larceny, identity theft, and scheme to defraud.
-- 26-year-old Summer Aboushady, of Queens, who was charged with scheme to defraud, six counts of falsifying business records, and unlawful possession of personal identification information.
Massive loan fraud ring busted: Hundreds of victims targeted