Crown Heights man accused of stealing 178 identities in $1M heist attempt
A 28-year-old from Crown Heights was charged in Brooklyn Supreme Court on Wednesday on a 229-count indictment for stealing the identities of 178 people in an attempt to rob the Pentagon Federal Credit Union of more than $1 million.
Joseph Batrony Jr.’s long list of charges include grand larceny, scheming to defraud, identity theft, falsifying business records, money laundering and unlawful possession of personal identification.
Prosecutors alleged that from Sept. 2017 to May 2018, Batrony used stolen personal information from the 178 individuals to open accounts and apply for loans and credit cards in their names before transferring the money to his own accounts or others associated with him. He exclusively used Pentagon Federal Credit Union, which is located in McLean, Virginia, for his scheme.
“In his eagerness to enrich himself, this defendant allegedly had no regard for the impact he could have on financial institutions or the victims whose credit he jeopardized and whose privacy he exploited,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, whose office assisted in the investigation along with the Secret Service.
Prosecutors claim that Batrony stole the identities primarily from western states whose personal information was leaked in corporate “data breaches.” He was able to gain access to people’s names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers without being involved in the “data breaches.”
A co-defendant, Darrell Walker, a 27-year-old from Flatbush, was also arraigned on related charges. His 26-count indictment included grand larceny, money laundering and criminal facilitation.
Walker allegedly helped Batrony by helping him to recruit “money mules,” or people who would allow the defendants to transfer money into their accounts in exchange for payment.
Batrony allegedly filled out hundreds of online applications and then transferred the money to accounts in his own name, that of the alias “Aaron Green,” or into accounts of relatives and other “money mules.” The credit union reported Batrony to the Secret Service on Oct. 31, 2017 and blocked the remaining transfers.
Both defendants have been ordered to return to court on April 10.
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