Alleged ringleader pleads guilty in $200M credit card scheme

June 13, 2013 at 3:39 PM

TRENTON, N.J., June 13 (UPI) -- The leader of a $200 million credit card fraud scheme has pleaded guilty in federal court to his role in the operation, officials said.

Tahir Lodhi, 53, pleaded guilty in Trenton Wednesday to fraud charges for his role in the international credit card scheme, The (Newark) Star-Ledger reported.

Authorities said Lodhi, of Hicksville, N.Y., and at least 21 other men and women living in the New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania area created 7,000 fake identities, 1,800 false mailing addresses, fake companies, collusive merchants and 25,000 fraudulent credit cards, which were all used to boost credit lines to get large loans that were never repaid.

The suspects allegedly sent millions of dollars to Pakistan, India, the United Arab Emirates, China and other countries, authorities said.

Lodhi, the alleged ringleader, faces up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine, authorities said.

Howard Simmons, Lodhi's lawyer, said his client was "not anything close" to the leader of the $200 million scheme and that he plans to request a "time-served" sentence for Lodhi.

Lodhi's sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 1.

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