According to The New York Times, Pop Out Boyz, a Brooklyn-based rap group, were recently indicted in Manhattan on grand larceny charges. Members of the group are accused of stealing more than $250,000 worth of luxury items from Barneys and Saks Fifth Avenue over the last few months.
“I’m cracking cards ’cause I’m a scammer,” read the lyrics of “For a Scammer,” a Pop Out Boyz song that prosecutors stated is based on actual events. “Watch the money do a back flip, early morning up at Saks Fifth, you see it, you want it, you have it.”
The Manhattan district attorney’s office believes this case reflects a trend in New York City. Street crime and drug dealing have declined over the years, but credit card fraud and identity theft has significantly increased. The average person has approximately 3.5 credit cards, and “relatively unsophisticated” young adults, police and prosecutors said, are committing these crimes.
“The cards are easier to get now with the development of some of these dark websites,” said Caption Cristopher Flanagan, commander of the Financial Crimes Task Force for the New York Police Department. “Credit card fraud in Brooklyn is becoming a big issue.”
These dark websites stem from a hidden part of the Internet that is not indexed by traditional search engines. Websites like Uniccshop, Joker’s Stash, and Rescator all illegally sell credit card information gathered from hotels, retailers and other businesses. Card numbers can go for as little as a dollar to $150.
“These kids have grown up with computers,” said Lieutenant Timothy Fenfert, of the NYPD’s Special Fraud Squad in Brooklyn. “They have been downloading movies and music since they were 10 years old, so it’s not much of a leap to download credit card numbers.”
New York Business Journal reports that 39 young adults, some who live with their parents and had previously clean records, were arrested for using these fake credit cards for shopping sprees at Barneys and Saks Fifth Avenue and other retailers.