$1 million Apple gift card scam foiled. 5 defendants from Staten Island on the hook for big $$ in restitution.


STATEN ISLAND, NY — These gift cards are priced high.

Five Staten Islanders accused in $1 million gift card fraud scheme must each pay $60,000 in restitution, while two face jail time, under plea deals concluded with the prosecutors.

The defendants — Ruchao Chen, 40; En Ping Chen, 37 years old; Li Ming Chen, 36 years old; Li Yu Chen, 37, and Xiulan Jiang, 38 — recently pleaded guilty in St. George’s State Supreme Court to third-degree criminal possession of stolen property to resolve the case.

Prosecutors said the scam took place between July and September 2021.

The defendants obtained legitimate Apple gift cards using information previously stolen from American Express account holders.

The group then used those cards to buy Apple products at the Apple store in the Staten Island Mall, District Attorney Michael E. McMahon said last October when announcing the arrests of the defendants.

Investigators seized more than $100,000 in cash and nearly $800,000 in unused gift cards, the DA said (RCDA photo)

While executing search warrants at three homes associated with the defendants, investigators seized $118,000 in cash, more than $787,000 in unused Apple gift cards, along with another 180 assorted gift cards, the authorities said. prosecutors.

They also recovered 65 new, unopened Apple products, said McMahon, who thanked Apple and American Express for their cooperation.

“My office will always remain vigilant against scams and other schemes, and we encourage anyone who believes they have been scammed to contact my office,” McMahon said after the defendants were arrested.

According to their plea agreements, Ruchao Chen and En Ping Chen will each be sentenced to six months in prison and five years of probation. They must also pay $60,000 in restitution individually.

The other three defendants will each be sentenced to five years probation and will also have to pay $60,000 in individual restitution.

The total restitution is $300,000.

“Mr. Chen, through his plea and restitution agreement, has accepted responsibility for his conduct,” said Glenn Morak, Ruchao Chen’s attorney. Chen has no criminal record. He can’t wait to put this case behind him.

En Ping Chen’s attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.

Assistant District Attorney Daniel Stern is prosecuting the case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Curiale, chief of the Economic Crimes Bureau.

$1 million gift card scam foiled.  5 accused on the hook for big $$ in restitution.

Investigators seized more than $100,000 in cash and nearly $800,000 in unused gift cards, the DA said (RCDA photo)

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