On March 25, New Jersey authorities reported that 12 people who were believed to be involved in a gang were taken into custody. Authorities alleged that the gang was involved in two scams; one of these resulted in stolen identities, and the other resulted in the making of fake gift cards and debit cards.

For the first scheme, the alleged members were accused of using stolen identities to submit fraudulent tax returns on behalf of dozens of people. They then allegedly collected the refunds. Authorities estimated that tens of thousands of dollars were received through the fraudulent tax returns. For the second scam, the gang members allegedly used fake debit and gift cards, which they made using a machine, in stores.

The investigation into the scams initially started with a 24-year-old East Orange man who was believed to have been the ringleader. Authorities allegedly recovered the card-making machine and firearms from his home. The other individuals were charged at a later date. All of the individuals were reportedly facing charges of identity theft, drug sales, production of counterfeit debit cards and racketeering. Additionally, four of the 12 individuals were charged with murder or attempted murder for prior incidents.

When a person is accused of being involved in a fraud scheme or a violent crime, they may face serious punishments if they are convicted. In some cases, a criminal defense attorney can create a strong defense for the accused person, especially if there were others involved. For example, the attorney could potentially argue that the defendant was coerced into being involved for fear of retribution or that they were framed.

Source: NJ.com, “N.J. gang members, associates arrested for racketeering, identity theft, authorities say,” Katie Lannan, March 26, 2015