That person in front of you, buying money orders at Walmart, might be a gang member. Well maybe not, but it looks like local gangs are getting involved in the hobby, but in more illegal ways, which only makes things harder for everyone else.
The Van Dyke Money Gang in New York made off with more than $1.5 million this year through a Western Union money order scheme.
The Outlaw Gangsta Crips in Brooklyn made about $500,000 this year in a paycheck fraud scheme that involved obtaining a legitimate paycheck and then using the information to create and quickly cash phony checks before they were taken down.
In New Jersey, 111 Neighborhood Crips used a machine to make dozens of fake gift cards for supermarkets, pharmacies and hardware stores. In South Florida, gangs steal identities to file false tax returns.
AP reports that law enforcement officials say they see increasingly more gangs relying on such crimes. This year, more than three dozen suspected crew members have been indicted in separate cases around the country. Grand larcenies in New York City account for 40 percent of all crime last year — compared with 28 percent in 2001. About 5 percent of Americans nationwide have experienced some kind of identity theft, with Florida leading the country in complaints.
As officials crack down on one type of scam, criminals move on to the next. Gang members learn the craft from each other — but many are also millennials, “raised in a computer age, and they know how to use it,” said Lt. Greg Besson of the NYPD’s financial crimes task force.