New York – Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 27-year-old man from Ditmas Park, Brooklyn has been indicted on charges of criminal possession of a forged instrument, grand larceny and related charges for allegedly using counterfeit money when buying iPhones, a MacBook, and other electronics, from sellers who advertised on Craigslist.com and other websites.
District Attorney Gonzalez said “It is alleged that this defendant schemed to effectively steal high-end electronics from unsuspecting individuals by paying them with counterfeit cash. He has been charged following a meticulous investigation by my Office because we are committed to protecting the people of Brooklyn from any and all types of fraud.”
The District Attorney identified the defendant as Sajaad Prince, 27, of Ditmas Park, Brooklyn. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on an indictment in which he is charged with first-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, criminal possession of a forgery device, fourth-degree grand larceny and related charges. He was ordered held on $250,000 cash bail or $150,000 bond and to return to court on December 12, 2018. The defendant faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the top count.
The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, between February 12, 2018 and June 19, 2018, the defendant used counterfeit bills to buy electronics from sellers who advertised them for sale on Craigslist.com and other marketplace platforms like Letgo.com.
Specifically, he is charged with purchasing two iPhone Xs from a man in Ditmas Park for $1,850, an Android Note 8 from an East Flatbush couple for $650, a Samsung Galaxy S9 from a man in East Midwood for $850 and a MacBook Pro, purchased in DUMBO for $1,700. All sellers subsequently realized that the cash the defendant handed to them was counterfeit, according to the investigation.
It is believed that the defendant committed additional crimes in a similar manner.
The investigation revealed that the phone numbers the defendant used to contact the sellers were purchased via Pinger, developer of the Textfree app that provides internet-based phone numbers. The defendant was identified by tracing the IP addresses used to access those phone numbers, and then painstakingly cross-referencing the IP addresses and associated email addresses against cell site and utilities records. In addition, a thorough analysis of the defendant’s social media accounts revealed that the defendant was frequently selling electronics and clothing for much lower than the retail price.
In June 2018, a search warrant was executed at the defendant’s residence. Several scanners and printers, counterfeit currency, templates used to copy counterfeit currency, and sheets of blank paper as well as the MacBook Pro were recovered from his bedroom.
During the time period of the charged crimes, the defendant was on work release from Lincoln Correctional Facility, where he was required to stay two nights a week in connection with a previous conviction of possessing counterfeit bills.
The District Attorney thanked the United States Secret Service for their assistance with the investigation.
The case was investigated by Detective Thomas Jurewicz and Detective Gerard Amato, under the supervision of Sergeant Dominic Longo of the NYPD Kings County District Attorney Detective Squad, and the overall supervision of Captain Matthew Zuss, Commanding Officer of the KCDA Detective Squad.
The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Dovid Wolosow of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Gavin Miles, Counsel to the Frauds Bureau, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Deputy Chief of the Investigations Division.