- The NYPD said the migrant moped gang used hackers to breach banking apps
- Authorities said the crew stole wallets and cellphones from at least 62 women
- Police arrested at least seven migrants, all believed to be from Venezuela, in a safe house in the Bronx on Monday
Members of the ruthless Venezuelan migrant gang that terrorized New York City women by stealing their phones used hackers to breach banking apps, cops say.
The migrants who allegedly stole wallets and cellphones from at least 62 women were pictured leaving a New York City police precinct after they were arrested in a raid on Monday.
Shocking footage of one of the thefts shows a woman being dragged by a moped by thieves trying to steal her phone.
Police arrested at least seven migrants, all believed to be from Venezuela, in a safe house in the Bronx after executing a search warrant.
Police believe the gang is led by Venezuelan ringleader Victor Parra, 30, who had a tech guy hack the phones, use the devices to make fraudulent purchases and clear out victim’s bank accounts before sending them to Colombia.
‘Like you saw with yesterday’s [robbery ring bust] — where the proceeds are being shipped to Miami, Houston and eventually Colombia — they’re a little more sophisticated in that they’re hacking into the phones, stealing people’s banking records,’ NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny said.
Kenny added the gangs were able to gain access to people’s Venmo, Zelle and other money transfer accounts before making purchases, transfer money to other accounts or withdraw cash.
Once the accounts are wiped clean, they then ship the phones overseas and sell them, Kenny said.
On Tuesday, one the gang members, Cleyber Andrade, 20, was arraigned in Manhattan criminal court and held on $10,000 bail after he was found to be linked to 62 different occurrences.
Andrade was charged with 25 grand larcenies and Juan Uzcatugi, 23, was charged with 20 grand larcenies, according to WABC. The pair were seen walking out of the 1st precinct in Manhattan on Monday.
Roxanna Sahos, 24, was charged with tampering with evidence and Alexander Dayker, 20, was charged with criminal possession of stolen property.
One of the most shocking thefts involved a migrant on a moped dragged a 52-year-old woman along a Big Apple street to steal her phone – a robbery caught on surveillance footage.
The scooter thief reportedly stole her bag, phone, credit cards, keys, glasses, $60 cash and her ID last month in the Sheepshead Bay section of Brooklyn.
Police are still on the hunt for Perra who is believed to have entered the US sometime in 2023 and was freed on bail in December after being charged with grand larceny.
‘He’s the big target. [He] has caused a lot of problems in New York City,’ Officer Nicholas Fiore said.
He is suspected of running the group of migrant ‘ghost criminals’ that he would recruit using WhatsApp messages telling them to steal specific models of phones, investigators said.
Police said the messages would say, ‘I have money. I’m available. Go get them.’
The suspects arrested on Monday were stealing the iPhones to use the Apple Pay feature and use the owners’ credit cards to buy items, police said.
NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny said the scooter drivers were paid $100 a day and the phone snatchers were paid between $300-$600 per phone.
‘These perpetrators are part of a sophisticated criminal enterprise made up of immigrants who have recently arrived in the United States,’ said Kenny. ‘This network of thieves predominantly lives in the migrant shelter system.’
NYPD Commissioner Eddie Caban said, ‘They’re essentially ghost criminals.’
Mayor Eric Adams went along for the sting operation wearing a $700 Fendi scarf under a bulletproof police vest and later appeared at a press conference with police.
‘This isn’t about the migrants and asylum seekers, this is about those who break the law. It doesn’t matter where you’re from and where you came from,’ the Democrat said.
Another group of about a dozen migrants were caught on camera assaulting two NYPD officers in Times Square last month.
A Manhattan judge let at least five asylum seekers go free without bail after they were charged with the assault. Only one of the suspects remains in jail.
Four of the suspects- Darwin Andres Gomez, 19, Kelvin Servita Arocha, 19, Wilson Juarez, 21, and Yorman Reveron, 24, are believed to have fled the city after being charged and released after giving fake names to a charity that helps migrants get bus tickets.
Several of them were found on Tuesday at a Greyhound bus station in Phoenix, Arizona and were arrested, per multiple reports.
The migrants, who have not yet been named, were taken into custody Monday night, Immigration and Customs Enforcement sources told Fox News.
According to the New York Post, the migrants charged in the assault are also part of a phone-snatching scheme.
‘They’re buying cars back in Ecuador and Venezuela’ a police source told the Post. ‘They’re putting pools in their homes there. All this money is going back and forth. That’s why the larcenies are going out of control. It’s unbelievable what they’re doing.’
One of the migrants accused of the brutal assault, Yohenry Brito, 24, was indicted by a grand jury on Tuesday and was held in custody on $15,000 bail after an initial court appearance last week.
He is set to appear in court again on March 25, at which time the charges against him will be unsealed.
The case has crystalized New York’s inability to keep up with the tens of thousands of migrants arriving in the city in recent months.
In 2023 alone, the city dealt with the arrival of more than 100,000 migrants.
In the city’s latest controversial move to deal with the migrants, Adams announced a $53million program to give pre-paid credit cards to migrant families with children.
On Tuesday Adams defended his new program and said: ‘So we are going to save money on delivery, we’re going to save money on people wasting food, and this is a pilot project we’re going to use that is going to save us $6.7million a year.’
He had previously said the project would save the city $600,000 a month, or $7.2 million annually.
The Democrat mayor also wanted to counter what he called ‘misinformation’ about the program.
‘We’re not giving people American Express cards,’ Adams said. ‘We found that the food delivery service that we set up during the emergency – we could find a better way to do it in our belief that we want to cut 20 percent of the migrant costs.’