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Top Stories - Reuters

U.S. Charges Three in Massive Identity Fraud
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. authorities charged three men with orchestrating the largest identity theft scheme in U.S. history, a scam that used thousands of filched credit identities to steal millions of dollars. Announcing the arrests on Monday, Manhattan U.S. Attorney James Comey said more than 30,000 consumers across the United States were affected.

"With a few keystrokes, these men essentially picked the pockets of tens of thousands of Americans and, in the process, took their identities, stole their money and swiped their security," he told a press conference.

Authorities said the total amount of losses was estimated to be in the millions of dollars, but could be worse as the investigation unfolds.

Comey said the scheme was orchestrated by Philip Cummings, an employee at Teledata Communications, a firm based in the New York suburbs. Teledata provides banks and other corporations with access to consumer credit information from the three commercial credit bureaus -- Equifax, Experian and TranSunion.

None of the credit bureaus was implicated in the scheme, authorities said.

Comey said Cummings had stolen passwords and used them to access credit ratings, which he then allegedly sold to a network of more than 20 other individuals for about $60 per report.

Those individuals allegedly would then use the personal information -- credit card and bank account details and social security (news - web sites) numbers -- to make money.

"It was every American's worst financial nightmare," Comey said.

Cummings, with two other defendants -- Linus Baptiste and Hakeem Mohammed -- allegedly started the scheme in early 2000. Baptiste was arrested in early October and Cummings turned himself in earlier on Monday, Comey said.

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