After a six-months long investigation, five people were arrested on Feb. 26 and then charged for their alleged roles in what the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office called alleged credit union loan fraud ring, whose members attempted to steal more than $1 million from five major credit unions, including Nassau Educators Federal Credit Union, and hundreds of individuals were allegedly targeted. Allegedly, they stole more than $250,000.
Teachers in the Lawrence, Great Neck and Syosset school districts with credit scores over 680 were especially targeted. “NEFCU hopefully reached out to the few impacted directly,” said Lawrence Superintendent Dr. Ann Pedersen, adding the alleged ring collected teachers’ names, but not anyone who had an account with NEFCU. She said that when credit union officials address members on March 12, the discussion, “will now be more interesting.”
According to Nassau DA Madeline Singas, from February 2018 to February 2019, Dacson Sears, the alleged ringleader of the operation, filed for more than 100 credit union loan applications at NEFCU, Pentagon Federal Credit Union, Digital Credit Union, Comtrust Federal Credit Union and Navy Federal Credit Union, using the stolen identities of hundreds of individuals with good credit. Sears is the owner of Sears Credit Advisory Counselling LLC., a credit repair service, which he operates out of his Brooklyn apartment.
Search warrants and additional evidence recovered shows that the ring targeted hundreds of individuals, created profiles of their information, ran their credit reports and obtained additional information about the victims from the Dark Web. The investigation also revealed that the defendants allegedly obtained the identities of the victims from various sources including school and hospital websites.
The loans 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.
Arrested were: Dacson Sears, 36, of Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn, was arraigned on Feb. 27, and charged with two counts of grand larceny -degree, three counts of identity theft first-degree and scheme to defraud first-degree. Bail was set at $250,000 bond or $125,000 cash and. If convicted of the top count, he faces up to seven-and-a-half to 15 years in prison.
Nyantakyi Boateng, 32, of Perth Amboy, New Jersey, was arraigned Feb. 27, and charged with two counts of grand larceny second-degree, identity theft first-degree and scheme to defraud-first degree. Bail was set at $50,000 bond or $25,000 cash. If convicted of the top count, he faces up to five years to 15 years in prison.
Konstantinos Toikas, 28, also of Fort Hamilton was arraigned Feb. 27, charged with grand larceny third-degree, identity theft first-degree, and scheme to defraud first-degree. The defendant was conditionally released to probation. If convicted of the top count, he faces up to 2-1/3 years to 7 years in prison.
Amber Mantock, 25, of Astoria, was arraigned on Feb. 27. She was charged with grand larceny third-degree, identity theft first-degree and scheme to defraud first-degree. The defendant was conditionally released to probation. If convicted of the top count, she faces up to 2-1/3 years to 7 years in prison.
Summer Aboushady, 26, of Jackson Heights, was arraigned on Feb. 27. She was charged with scheme to defraud first-degree, six counts of falsifying business records first-degree, unlawful possession of personal identification information third-degree. Bail was set at $5,000 bond or $2,500 cash. If convicted of the top count, she faces up to 1-1/3 years to four years in prison.
“Over the course of a year these defendants allegedly operated a highly sophisticated and organized loan and identity theft ring,” Singas said in a news release. “The effects of this type of fraud are devastating for those who have to reclaim their identities and the banks that have to recoup financial losses. This investigation, one of the largest identity theft cases we have ever investigated, highlights the importance of strong working relationships among all levels of law enforcement. I thank our partners at the United States Postal Inspection Service for their assistance on this case.”
Abooshady worked for Capital One as a banker and is accused of stealing account information and selling it to the other members of the ring. While employed at Capital One, she allegedly opened accounts for Sears in the names of the stolen identities so Sears could have loan proceeds deposited into the accounts.
Sears, Boateng, Mantock and Toikas are accused of withdrawing the loan proceeds from ATMs and spending the money on personal expenses including car loans, rent and airline tickets. Sears and Boateng also opened accounts with the assistance of Aboushady. Boateng, a former collegiate wide receiver, and Toikas, a security guard and club bouncer, also deposited loan proceed checks into bank accounts controlled by the ring.
The scheme came to light when the credit unions became aware of certain loans that were in arrears. Credit union employees discovered that people who they thought they lent the money to were in fact identity theft victims who didn’t yet know their identities were stolen. One of the credit unions, NEFCU, then reported their financial losses to the Nassau DA and the U. S. Postal Service.
The NCDA and USPIS are actively working with all known victims to review and repair the damage to their credit. The investigation into this case continues, and if you believe you may be a victim, please contact the NCDA’s Financial Crimes Bureau at (516) 571-2149.