Gang members in New York City are turning to white-collar crimes such as fraudulent checks and credit cards to fund their enterprises and lifestyle, according to law-enforcement officials tell the Wall Street Journal. When a member of the gang Bosses in Business wanted to deposit counterfeit checks, he turned to strangers on Facebook for help. “Cool I was lookin at a few of your pix ur pretty an I would like to kno if u would like to do business with me,” the man wrote to a Facebook user. The man paid the woman on Facebook to open bank accounts; he and associates deposited fraudulent checks in those accounts and immediately withdrew money from ATMs.
The man is one of nine alleged gang members indicted last week for stealing more than $94,000 by depositing counterfeit checks. It was the third case involving gangs and financial fraud the Brooklyn district attorney’s office has brought in the past six months. Police noticed occasional gang members with fake credit cards five years ago. By 2014, financial crimes had become more prevalent, as word spread that they carried lighter prison sentences than drug or armed-robbery convictions. Investigators find discover credit-card embossing machines and stacks of fake cards while investigating drug or murder cases. While financial crimes aren’t violent, law-enforcement officials say such offenses fund the lifestyles of gang members, including purchasing guns and getaway cars. Gangs have become more sophisticated, with some members going on the dark web to obtain fraudulent credit card numbers and using higher quality credit-card printers.