Sixteen members of a family crime syndicate that peddled Apple merchandise purchased with stolen credit card numbers have been sentenced in the US.
The leader, Shaheed Bilal, 29, received 4 and a half to nine years in state prison. His two brothers, Rahim and Ali, previously were sentenced to two to six years and one to three years in prison, respectively. The three men were charged with grand larceny in the second degree.
In all, 16 defendants pleaded guilty and were sentenced, while the charges against eight others are still pending.
According to prosecutors, the racket, known as "S3," was responsible for, between June 2008 and December 2010, purchasing stolen credit card numbers from underground forums and using the data to create counterfeit cards.
Shaheed Bilal ran the operation out of his prison cell, directing his girlfriend, Ophelia Alleyne, 30, to manage the fraudulent business, prosecutors said. Alleyne was sentenced to four to 12 years in prison.
The Bilal brothers directed a number of so-called "shoppers," often their friends, to use the forged credit cards, which included their real names but had stolen numbers, at Apple stores across the US.
They purchased products such as iPods, iPads and MacBooks.
"Once purchased, the goods were then sold for cash at below retail cost to several different individuals in Brooklyn acting as 'fences,'" prosecutors said. "In turn, the fences would then resell the illegally obtained goods at a profit."