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Crime Ring Stole $200 Million with Credit Cards, U.S. Says

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An international crime ring created thousands of fake identities to obtain tens of thousands of credit cards and steal more than $200 million, the Justice Department said.

Charges against 18 people were unsealed today in federal court in Newark, New Jersey, where U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said the scam was "one of the largest credit card fraud schemes ever uncovered" by the Justice Department.

The conspirators created thousands of false identities and credit profiles, burnished their creditworthiness, and took large loans that were never repaid, according to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation arrest complaint. Millions of dollars were wired overseas to Pakistan, India, the United Arab Emirates, China, Romania, Japan and Canada, the FBI claims.

"They used the proceeds of the crime to purchase luxury automobiles, electronics, spa treatments, high-end clothing and millions of dollars in gold," according to the complaint.

The ring also relied on complicit businesses, such as jewelry stores owned by four defendants, to conduct sham transactions, according to the FBI. The leaders of the ring were Babar Qureshi and Muhammad Shafiq, according to the FBI. No personal information about them was immediately available.

Fishman has scheduled a news conference for 11:30 a.m. New York time. The defendants are scheduled to appear today in federal court in Newark.

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