Defendants Indicted On 100 Counts For Forging Documents & Stealing Identities Of Notaries To Fraudulently Obtain Discounted Insurance Policies & TLC Licenses
(Long Island, NY) Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the arrests of four individuals for their roles in a massive scheme to fraudulently obtain commercial car insurance policies and New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) licenses. Over a period spanning almost five years, the defendants fraudulently obtained thousands of dollars in discounted insurance policies and dozens of TLC licenses by forging documents and stealing identities.
The defendants were arrested on a Queens County Grand Jury indictment charging the defendants on 100 counts, including Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree (a class E felony), Insurance Fraud in the Third Degree (a class D felony), Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a class D felony), Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree (a class D felony), Identity Theft in the First Degree (a class D felony), Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree (a class E felony), Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree (a class E felony) and other crimes.
“We have shut down this complex insurance fraud ring, and now these defendants will face the justice they deserve,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Auto insurance fraud leads to inflated insurance rates passed along to hard-working New Yorkers. These arrests by my office’s Auto Insurance Fraud Unit are another clear example of how we will continue to prosecute individuals who try to game the system and rip off the public for their own personal gain.”
According to the Attorney General’s indictment, unsealed in Queens County Supreme Court before Justice Joel L. Blumenfeld, between April 2007 and March 2012, the four defendants engaged in an elaborate scheme to obtain insurance for livery cars in the names of shell corporations by submitting forged documents and making false statements to insurance carriers and brokers. By falsely stating that the cars were affiliated with livery car bases, they were able to obtain cheaper rates. The fake documents submitted as part of the scheme included forged utility bills and fictitious leases designed to fool insurance carriers and government agencies into believing that these shell corporations were legitimate businesses that operated from certain addresses, when in fact the corporations were not legitimate and the vehicles did not operate from these addresses.
The defendants in this case also misrepresented the use of the vehicles. Through their fraudulent scheme, the defendants obtained thousands of dollars in commercial car insurance polices from multiple insurance carriers.
The Attorney General’s investigation further revealed that using these fraudulently obtained policies, the defendants then obtained licenses from the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) and vehicle registrations from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). To obtain the TLC licenses, the defendants filed false and forged documents with the TLC, including insurance documents, applicant affidavits, base affidavits, power of attorney forms and election of officer forms, almost all of which were purportedly notarized.
Although more than 40 TLC applications contained documents bearing the stamps and signatures of notaries public, in fact, none of these notaries actually witnessed or signed the documents. Instead, the defendants stole the identities of notaries public and then falsely affixed their notary public stamps and forged their signatures on the required documents. Through the submission of false and forged documents, the defendants fraudulently obtained dozens of TLC licenses.
The indictment charges the following defendants with multiple felonies, including Identity Theft, Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument, Insurance Fraud and Scheme to Defraud:
- Raja Ishtiaq, age 52, of Huntington Station, Suffolk County, NY
- Farhat N. Qureshi, age 37, of New York, NY
- Hasan Bacovic, age 38, of New York, NY
- Bakry Abdelmuti, age 52, of Brooklyn, NY
All four defendants are currently in custody. The Honorable Justice Blumenfeld set $10,000 bail for defendant Abdelmuti, $50,000 bail for defendant Bacovic, $100,000 bail for defendant Qureshi and $150,000 bail for defendant Ishtiaq. All defendants were ordered to surrender their passports.
The charges against the defendants are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.
These arrests are the culmination of a long-term investigation conducted by Attorney General Schneiderman’s Automobile Insurance Fraud Unit. The Attorney General thanks the Department of Financial Services (DFS) Superintendent Benjamin M. Lawsky, as well as Executive Deputy Superintendent Joy Feigenbaum, for their assistance in this case.
The Attorney General thanks DFS Superintendent Benjamin M. Lawsky and Executive Deputy Superintendent Joy Feigenbaum for their assistance in this case.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Irwin Weiss of the Auto Insurance Fraud Unit, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton and Bureau Chief Gail Heatherly of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau, and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Nancy Hoppock. The case was investigated by Investigators Michael Beshara and Merrie Gordon and Analyst Wilsonia Jean-Phillipe, under the supervision of Deputy Chief Leonard D’Alessandro and Chief Dominick Zarrella of the Investigations Bureau.