Approximately 80 people, most of them elderly, were victimized by a long-running identity theft ring led by a former Staten Island nurse who used her job at a doctor's office to abscond with patients' personal information, prosecutors allege. According to the Richmond County DA's indictment, Amanda Zieminski, 26, and four others raided bank accounts, opened up numerous bogus credit card accounts with the patients' information, and went hog wild, buying front row seats to sporting events and a trip to Disney World, where defendant Clyde "C-Money CEO" Forteau proposed to Zieminski at Cinderella's Castle awwww FANCY.
Zieminski, who went by the nickname Meme Zee, announced the engagement on Facebook, declaring, "Yesterday was the greatest day of my life. My love asked me to marry him in Cinderella's Castle, glass slipper and all." Here's video:
Forteau and his brother are part of a rap group called "Yung Squad," and they used the Facebook profile to boast of their hot seats at sporting events. Prosecutors say the ring stole over $675,000 from the elderly.
And because Zieminski was allegedly recorded talking on the phone about targeting elderly people for the scheme, that's enabled the DA to charge Zieminski and other defendants with hate crimes. "If you commit a crime and are brazen enough to post online pictures of yourself enjoying the ill-gotten fruits of your criminal endeavors, we will most certainly find you, arrest you and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law," District Attorney Daniel M. Donovan, Jr. said in a statement.
Prosecutors say the investigation began in 2008 after patients of Dr. Paul C. Gazzara informed him that their bank accounts had been compromised. Zieminski had been working at the office for four years, and continued to work there until she was fired in 2012 for writing in fake hours on her time sheet.
Earlier that year, the 123rd Precinct Detective Squad was assigned a case in which a victim’s TD Bank account was changed from his Staten Island residence to a location in The Bronx, and a new debit card was requested. In the space of four days, Zieminski and Forteau allegedly racked up $24,955.42 in charges, which included three front-row tickets to game six of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals at the Boston Garden between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat.
Investigators determined that the Bronx address given for ticket transaction was the residence of alleged genius Clyde "C-Money CEO" Forteau. They were then able to connect him to Zieminski when they discovered that they were classmates and student athletes at the New York City College of Technology in 2005 and 2006. Investigators were already looking at the doctor's office as the connecting thread in a series of identity thefts, and were able to obtain warrants to tap Zieminski and Forteau's cell phones.
When police finally moved in to make arrests on Tuesday, they found 50 credit cards and more than 20 stolen or forged driver's licenses in Forteau's BMW. “On July 1, Clyde Forteau stated on Facebook that he ‘ain’t worried about nuthin.’ Well he and his codefendants should be worried, because these are very serious felony charges," DA Donovan said in a statement.
Zieminski and Forteau, along with his brother Jerome (It'z Holly) Forteau and alleged courier Abdel (Chips) Yousef, 25, are charged with enterprise corruption, identity theft, falsifying business records and other charges. One Carmen Rivera is also charged with a felony count of identity theft—prosecutors allege he acted as a "dropper" who collected stolen credit cards and delivered them to Yousef.