Korean American Pleads Guilty in Large-Scale ID Theft Ring

A 50-year-old Korean American man from New Jersey pleaded guilty to identity theft and wire fraud charges yesterday, admitting he racked up almost $700,000 in credit card charges as part of a large-scale identity theft ring in Bergen County, N.J., according to the Bergen Record.

Chul-Hoe Choi, 50, traveled to Chicago in January 2009 to obtain an Illinois driver’s license with an illegally-acquired Social Security card and number, said Rebekah Carmichael, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman. After obtaining the driver’s license, Choi returned to Bergen County, where he used the license and Social Security card to apply for and receive a number of credit cards from various banks, eventually reaping more than $70,000 in merchandise and cash from the cards with the help of co-conspirators.

The newspaper also reported that Choi admitted he set up two fake companies and merchant accounts which he then used to rack up more than $600,000 in phony charges.

Choi was originally arrested in September 2010 in a large sweep by authorities of conspirators in the identity theft ring, which included 52 others. The ring, which was led by Sang-Hyun “Jimmy” Park, 44, of Palisades Park, had operated for years, authorities said at the time.

An investigation into the ring began after a May 2008 triple murder in Tenafly, in which one of the ring’s conspirators killed another conspirator and two of his family members after a dispute over commissions from the scheme.

Choi will be sentenced in September and faces up to 20 years in prison.