Six people, believed to be members of a loan syndicate, were arrested for credit card fraud. New Jersey police said that they are still pursuing other suspects who have eluded arrest. Those arrested allegedly played pivotal roles in a credit card duplicating scam, where restaurant patrons were victimized. Unsuspecting cardholders had their credit cards scanned and duplicated and were later charged for restaurant bills they had no knowledge of.
Beleaguered restaurant owners especially from the counties of Essex, Passaic, Clifton and Morris initially approached the group to borrow money to fund their operations. However, because of the difficult economic conditions, they were not able to pay their debts on time. This angered the group and they demanded the restaurant owners to come up with creative ways to raise money. They eventually were able to intimidate the restaurateurs to participate in a credit card scam wherein they were made to capture the credit card information of paying customers.
Once classified information was passed to the group, they started charging the cards for considerable amounts, so that they in turn could recover their losses from the unpaid debts. They, however, were not prudent when it came to charging bills, as some credit cards were charged at places where customers had not even been to.
Restaurant clients were initially not aware that such things were happening, not until they started noticing entries that were questionable. When they realized that the charges were not random errors, they sought help from police authorities.
New Jersey police then launched a state-wide investigation that ran for four months and eventually led to the arrest of the six suspects.
The names and charges of the arrested suspects are as follows:
Darlene Priester, from Union Avenue, New Jersey, charged with distributing and selling illegal substances and had previously been put on probation for racketeering charges.
John Paladino, from Union Avenue, New Jersey, facing charges of conspiracy to commit credit fraud, theft and unauthorized credit card transactions.
Ramzi Musleh, of Clifton, New Jersey, sued for credit card fraud and theft.
Dean Ulan of Bloomfield, New Jersey, charged with credit card fraud.
Guy Madmon of Fair Lawn, New Jersey charged with conspiring to commit credit card fraud.
Robert Giacona of Passaic, New Jersey, facing charges of illegal possession of narcotics (cocaine and marijuana).
Katherine Paladino, of Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, facing charges of conspiring to violate New Jersey narcotics laws.
The bust was a joint effort of investigating teams from the Caldwell Police Department, United States Secret Service, and Essex County Prosecutor's Office.