Federal authorities said the alleged scheme — spanning eight countries and 28 states — was one of the largest credit card fraud cases brought by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Prosecutors on Tuesday charged 18 people with fraud for allegedly creating and using thousands of fake identities to ring up hundreds of millions of dollars in credit card purchases.
Reuters reports the 18 people were the ringleaders of a massive credit card fraud scheme that lasted nearly 10 years, according to a criminal complaint.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation was in the processing of making arrests on Tuesday morning. The 18 people were located in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.
“The arrests today are the result of an investigation into a sophisticated, organized group that operated internationally and in the United States,” said an FBI spokeswoman in New Jersey.
“This elaborate scheme involved the creation of thousands of fraudulent identities and bank accounts,” she added.
According to the criminal complaint filed in New Jersey, profits from the scheme “supported a massive network of co-conspirators,” some located in Pakistan, India, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, China, Romania and Japan.
The Wall Street Journal reports prosecutors said the defendants constructed an elaborate network of fake identities by adding fictitious people as authorized users on existing credit cards, and conspired with the owner of a Philadelphia credit repair company to obtain fake lines of credit to improve the credit score of the phony profiles.
The complaint does not include any names of credit card companies defrauded in the scam.