By Philip Newman
A 34-year-old Bayside man has pleaded guilty to what federal authorities said was a scheme that siphoned more than $200,000 from financial institutions involving maxed-out credit card accounts.
David Fein, U.S. attorney for Connecticut, said Zhao Guang Ming, a Chinese citizen who lived in Queens, faces up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 at sentencing May 5.
Zhao appeared before U.S. District Judge Robert Chatigny in Hartford Feb. 14 and pleaded guilty to one charge of access device fraud.
According to court documents and statements in court, Zhao advertised in the World Journal, a mass-circulation Chinese newspaper based in Flushing. The ad in Chinese characters read: “Cash can be obtained from any bank or credit card account. I have five years experience. Best in America. Secrecy assured. — Mr. Zhang with a telephone number.”
Federal authorities said that in July 2010, a person not identified by authorities but who worked with investigators, answered the ad and Zhao agreed to provide help in getting a cash advance from an account which had no money available.
Zhao and the person answering the ad met at 2:35 a.m. at the MGM Grand Hotel at the Foxwoods Resort in Connecticut, where for five hours Zhao directed the unidentified person in obtaining cash advances from the credit card account in the amounts of $4,800, $4,700 and $2,800 with Zhao charging his “client” a percentage of each cash advance.
Federal prosecutors said that in pleading guilty, Zhao also admitted he helped at least 25 people to get fraudulent cash advances using the scheme and that he defrauded several financial institutions of at least $227,597. Zhao also admitted that he used a credit card account to make two payments, one to the World Journal in the amount of $1,255 and another to Countrywide Insurance for $1,000.
The U.S. attorney’s officials said that at Zhao’s request the person who answered the newspaper ad provided Zhao with a credit card and other identification information, including a driver’s license.
Zhao is being held by U.S. marshals pending sentencing, according to Thomas Carson, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney in Connecticut.
Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at email@example.com or phone at 718-260-4536.