Habib Chaudhry, a New Yorker, has been detained after remaining a fugitive for nearly four years in a case alleging to have been involved in more than $200 million credit card fraud schemes, one of the largest ever charged by the Justice Department.
U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman made the announcement on January 23, stating that Chaudhry, 49, of Valley Stream, New York, was initially charged by complaint in February 2013 and then by indictment in September 2013. He was expected to make his initial appearance Jan. 23 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leda Dunn Wettre in Newark federal court, Fishman said.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court. Fishhman said in a press note, Chaudhry was indicted as part of a conspiracy, led by Tahir Lodhi, Babar Qureshi, Ijaz Butt, and others to fabricate more than 7,000 false identities to obtain tens of thousands of credit cards. Since then, 19 people have pleaded guilty in connection with the scheme.
The scheme involved a three-step process — the defendants would make up a false identity by creating fraudulent identification documents and a phony credit profile with the major credit bureaus, then pump up the credit of the false identity by providing bogus information about that identity’s creditworthiness, and finally borrow or spend as much as they could without repaying the debts. The scheme caused more than $200 million in confirmed losses to businesses and financial institutions.
The scope of the criminal fraud enterprise required the conspirators to construct an elaborate network of false identities. Across the country, the conspirators maintained more than 1,800 “drop addresses,” including houses, apartments and post office boxes, which they used as the mailing addresses for the false identities.