An employee of the UJA-Federation of New York allegedly sold photocopies of checks from high-profile donors to gang members who used the identity details to steal more than $2 million.
Tracy Nelson, 24, of Brooklyn, was indicted Friday in the scam, as was the man she lived with, Roberto Millar, who is an Audi car salesman. Nelson pleaded not guilty and was ordered held without bail.
Fifty-five people were arrested in the scam, most members of the Bloods, Crips and Outlaws gangs. Several of the arrested were charged with grand larceny and identity theft.
UJA-Federation told The New York Times that Nelson worked at the agency for three years and was suspended without pay in August.
Since last May, Nelson and her gang cashed money or transferred it to their own bank accounts and reportedly bought electronics, expensive clothing and luxury cars, according to the Times.
Three tellers at Chase Bank knowingly ignored suspicious transactions or stole information from customers’ accounts, according to reports.
UJA-Federation told The New York Times that its donors did not suffer financial injury, but that the burden was borne by banks and credit card companies including JPMorgan Chase, TD Bank, Citibank, American Express and Discover.
Major donors who were victims of the scam include Ira Rennert, who is estimated to be worth $5.9 billion; Eric Zinterhofer, a founder of Searchlight Capital Partners, a private equity firm, and the husband of Aerin Lauder, an Estee Lauder executive.
The UJA-Federation collects annual donations from about 60,000 contributors.