MINEOLA, N.Y. – A New York arrest has halted a scheme that plundered the identities of hundreds of people, including the dead and disabled, in 31 states, authorities said Friday.
The scheme, whose evidence dates back to 2013, netted more than $200,000 in ill-gotten gains, officials said.
Seerojnie Ram, 47, of Freeport, was arraigned Thursday on grand larceny and other charges. A message requesting comment from her attorney was not immediately returned.
More arrests are possible in the case, according to Acting Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas and Claudia Angel, acting inspector in charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
The defendant obtained lists of dead people, employees at private companies, and customers entitled to discounts because of disabilities, authorities said. About 50 other identities were invented out of thin air, they said.
Among other things, Ram allegedly pilfered the names and social security numbers of about 250 people to receive thousands of dollars in tax refunds, authorities said.
She's also accused of forging hundreds of postal and Internal Revenue Service forms to change the addresses of the people, alive or dead, whose identities she was using, authorities said.
The defendant, who filed for bankruptcy this year and received Medicaid benefits, lavished money on cruises, home furnishings and trips to Atlantic City, New Jersey, investigators said.
Postal inspectors detected unusual activity and contacted prosecutors.
Investigators found a "massive paper trail" that included fraudulently obtained debit cards, credit cards and checks; fake IDs; lists of names; and forged federal government forms, according to Shams Tarek, a spokesman for Singas.
If convicted of the top charge, Ram could face up to 3 1/2 to seven years in prison. She is due back in court on Monday.