MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas and United States Postal Inspector in Charge, Philip R. Bartlett, announced the arrest of five individuals for their roles in an alleged credit union loan fraud ring, whose members attempted to steal more than $1,000,000. Five major credit unions, including Nassau Educators Federal Credit Union, and hundreds of individuals were allegedly targeted.
Dacson Sears, 36, of Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn, was arraigned before Judge Scott Siller on Wednesday, February 27, and charged with two counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (a C felony), three counts of Identity Theft in the First Degree (a D felony) and Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree (an E felony). Bail was set at $250,000 bond or $125,000 cash and the defendant is due back in court March 1. 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, NJ, was arraigned Wednesday, February 27, before Judge Eileen Goggin and charged with two counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (a C felony), Identity Theft in the First Degree (a D felony) and Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree (an E felony). Bail was set at $50,000 bond or $25,000 cash and the defendant is due back in court March 1. If convicted of the top count, he faces up to five years to 15 years in prison.
Konstantinos Toikas, 28, of Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn, was arraigned Wednesday, February 27, before Judge Goggin and charged with Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a D felony), Identity Theft in the First Degree (a D felony) and Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree (an E felony). The defendant was conditionally released to probation and is due back in court March 1. If convicted of the top count, he faces up to 2-1/3 years to 7 years in prison.
Amber Mantock, 25, of Astoria, Queens, was arraigned Wednesday, February 27, before Judge Goggin and charged with Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a D felony), Identity Theft in the First Degree (a D felony) and Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree (an E felony). The defendant was conditionally released to probation and is due back in court March 1. 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, Queens, was arraigned Wednesday, February 27, before Judge Goggin and charged with Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree (an E felony), six counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree (an E felony), Unlawful Possession of Personal identification information in the Third Degree (an A misdemeanor). Bail was set at $5,000 bond or $2,500 cash and the defendant is due back in court March 1. 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,” DA Singas said. “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.”
“This case is the product of an extensive investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service and Nassau County District Attorney’s Office investigating and prosecuting identity theft related crimes allegedly carried out by these individuals, which are nothing short of abhorrent. This “gang” of thieves conspired to steal financial DNA of their unknowing victims and manipulate financial institution’s lending practices to greedily pad their pockets. Due to the extraordinary efforts of law enforcement, we were able to uncover their crimes and bring the defendants to justice, putting an end to their lies and thievery,” said Inspector in Charge Philip R. Bartlett.
DA Singas said that from at least February 2018 to February 2019, defendant Dacson Sears, the alleged ringleader of the operation, filed for more than 100 credit union loan applications at Nassau Educators Federal Credit Union, 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.
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.
Sears is the owner of Sears Credit Advisory Counselling LLC., a credit repair service, which he operates out of his Brooklyn apartment.
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. Sears is also accused of opening credit cards in the victims’ names.
Defendant Aboushady 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.
Defendants 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.
During the pendency of the scheme, the defendants allegedly attempted to steal more than $1,000,000 from the credit unions, while successfully stealing more than $250,000. That figure is expected to increase as investigators sort through the evidence recovered from search warrants executed at Sears’ home and storage locker.
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 NCDA and USPIS.
Following a six-month-long investigation by the NCDA and USPIS, the defendants were arrested on Tuesday, February 26 by NCDA and USPIS investigators. During an execution of search warrants at or following the defendants’ arrests, investigators seized hundreds of files containing victims’ personal and financial information, credit reports, fake identification cards, a cash counting machine, cash wrappers, computers, phones and cash.
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.
Free credit reports are available in New York State. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that each of the nationwide credit reporting companies provide you with a free credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. Obtaining a credit report in one’s name is called a “soft inquiry” and does not affect a person’s credit score.
The NCDA thanks NEFCU, Capital One, Pentagon Federal Credit Union, Navy Federal Credit Union, Digital Credit Union, Bank of America and other financial institutions for their assistance in this investigation
Senior Assistant District Attorneys Heidi Bausk and Lauren Littman of DA Singas’ Financial Crimes Bureau is prosecuting this case. Dacson is represented by Camille Russell, Esq. Boateng is represented by Robert Schalk, Esq. and the other defendants were represented by lawyers from the 18B panel at arraignments.
The charges are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.