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Ringleader Gets Six Years for $200M Scam

(CN) - A New Yorker was sentenced to 80 months in prison for leading a $200 million credit card fraud scheme involving tens of thousands of ill-gotten cards, the government said.

Tahir Lodhi oversaw the fabrication of over 7,000 fake identities to get more than 25,000 fraudulent credit cards, court records show. The Hicksville, N.Y., resident and co-conspirators manipulated credit reports to increase borrowing power for the cards and then "borrowed or spent as much as they could" without repaying the debts, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Lodhi, 56, had previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and was sentenced Thursday in New Jersey Federal Court, a Justice Department news release states.

"The enormous size and scope of the criminal fraud enterprise required Lodhi and his conspirators to construct an elaborate network of false identities," the news release states. "Across the country, Lodhi and his conspirators maintained more than 1,800 'drop addresses,' including houses, apartments, and post office boxes, which they used as the mailing addresses of the false identities."

The scheme cost businesses and financial institutions more than $200 million, the government said.

A number of businesses, including several jewelry stores in New Jersey, were allegedly complicit in the scheme, allowing those involved to conduct sham transactions on the ill-gotten cards for a share of the proceeds.

Lodhi and conspirators spent their money on luxury cars, millions of dollars worth of gold, expensive clothes and spa treatments, the news release states. Law enforcement also found $70,000 in cash in one conspirator's oven.

Loss calculations are ongoing because of the size of the conspiracy, meaning confirmed losses may surpass $200 million.

In addition to more than six years in prison, Lodhi was also sentenced to five years of supervised release and a $25,000 fine.

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