Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey and Deputy Chief Lawrence Cattano of the Perth Amboy Police Department said today that 24 people have been charged with participating in a large-scale international bank fraud ring that operated a million-dollar scheme to steal from banks and corporations.
The individuals were charged on June 14, 2016, during an investigation by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, Newark Division, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Marshals New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force, the New Jersey Division of Taxation, the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Department and municipal police departments in Carteret, Edison, Linden, Perth Amboy, South Amboy South Plainfield, Spotswood and Woodbridge.
Bails for the defendants ranged from $50,000 to $250,000.
The arrests were part of an on-going investigation that was initiated by the Perth Amboy Police Department in what began as a routine traffic stop.
During the investigation, it was determined that the motorist was part of the bank fraud ring, which engaged in the intricate international financial scam.
It further was determined that the leader, Carlos Alcantara, 26, of South Amboy, and numerous associates created companies for the sole purpose of duping unwitting companies and individuals to wire significant sums of money to newly-established, but fraudulent corporate bank accounts.
Under the scheme, money would be quickly withdrawn and/or wired overseas before the victims or the banks transmitting the wire transfers learned of the compromised and fraudulent wires.
In several instances, the initial compromises occurred via hacked e-mail accounts.
The investigation further determined that Alcantara and his associates had fraudulently obtained over $1 million in U.S. currency and fraudulently wired more than $8 million from victims’ accounts.
The defendants have been charged with money laundering, conspiracy, and theft.
In addition to Alcantara, those charged have been identified as Mohamed A. Hadgiev, 38, of Carteret; Edgar Lara-Mercedes, 27, of Edison; Jessica Smith, 28, of Fords; Kenneth McCarthy, 43, of Newark, and Jamel Lark, 38, and Cynthia Weaver, 33, both of South Plainfield; Eddie Perry, 46, and Kim Gormley, 41, both of Spotswood, and Joseph Rawlins, 46, Steven Tunnell, 58, and Glenn W. Yourstone Jr., 42, all of Woodbridge.
Also charged were Quron Nickerson, 28, Philip Maxwell, 29, Erick Rodriguez, 54, Christopher Martinez, 26, Chaz Uriah Sullivan, 25, William B. Wright Sr., 49, Lina Wright-Cruz, 32, Marshall Gordon, 46, Aaron A. Jackson Sr., 65, Reynaldo Ramirez, 34, Akini Joseph, 31, and Karen Brimage, 36, all of Perth Amboy.
The investigation is active and is continuing. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Ryan Tighe of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 745-3300.
As is the case with all criminal defendants, the charges against these individuals are merely accusations and they are presumed innocent until proven guilty.