(Updated) AG: Head of Downtown Crossing crime ring arrested
The alleged leader of an “extensive criminal enterprise” in Downtown Crossing was arrested Thursday in an undercover operation by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, authorities said.
During a news conference Thursday afternoon, Attorney General Martha Coakley said that the scheme involves stolen and fraudulent identities, phony credit cards and the reselling of smartphones.
Shahab “David” Yousheei, 36, of Brighton, faces multiple charges including identity theft, illegal possession of a credit card encoder and making purchases with a false credit card. He was arrested after buying counterfeit money, authorities said.
Coakely said Yousheei, who operated a kiosk at 449 Washington St., used stolen identities to open mobile phone accounts and pay runners to buy discounted smartphones who then returned them to him so he could sell them at a higher price from his Downtown Crossing shop. He also allegedly created phony credit cards using real numbers and stolen or made up names. He would then allegedly use an encoder that would allow the cards to appear legitimate when making a purchase.
“In many ways this case illustrates the new face of crime, one that uses computers as weapon of choice and one that robs people of their identities instead of their possessions,” Coakley said, adding that the investigation included “extensive” undercover work and started in August.
Coakley urged anyone who made a purchase from the shop to immediately check their credit report. Because of the way the alleged scheme worked, a fraudulent purchase may not show up on a credit card statement, but would on a credit report.
Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said that local officers were also investigating allegations that Yousheei was buying stolen jewelry at his store, melting it down and selling it.
“Today is a good day,” Davis said.
Coakley estimated that the operation netted tens of thousands of dollars, but that the total was likely higher.
More arrests and charges are expected, authorities said.
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