NEWARK - Federal prosecutors say 53 people have been charged in a Bergen County-based identity theft and fraud investigation.
U.S. attorney and FBI officials say 43 of the individuals are charged with running a large-scale criminal enterprise to obtain and sell identity documents used to commit credit card, bank and tax fraud.
One of the men arrested, 35-year-old Kang-Hyok Choi, was indicted last year in the stabbing deaths of three people in Tenafly.
Choi allegedly murdered his friend Han Kim and two of Kim's family members in May 2008. A federal complaint says Choi charged about $100,000 on the victims' stolen credit cards. He remains in state custody.
The murder may have set off the entire investigation. The U.S. attorney won't say if the office and the FBI were already investigating the ring, but the prosecutor says that the murders is how the county got involved.
The U.S. Attorney's Office says the alleged scheme spanned several states.
Most of the suspects are connected to one alleged large-scale enterprise. A federal complaint accuses the defendants of selling stolen Social Security numbers to willing customers and then helping those customers get driver's licenses and credit cards in an effort to boost credit ratings.
Forty-seven defendants were arrested today and five remain at large.
For the full press release from the U.S. Attorneys Office, click here.