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Downstate man sentenced in courterfeiting ring

Cheng Si Chen, 58, of Flushing, Queens, has been sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge William M. Skretny to 12 months in prison and four years supervised release.

Chen, who was convicted of bank fraud, was also ordered to pay $32,000 in restitution.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango, who handled the case, said Chen was a member of a credit card counterfeiting ring which, from August to December, 2009, fraudulently obtained the credit card and debit account numbers of hundreds of bank customers to make hundreds of counterfeit credit and debit cards.

The fake cards were then used to fraudulently withdraw cash from ATMs at the Seneca Niagara Casino, the Seneca Allegany Casino and the Salamanca Bingo Hall in Western New York and various other casinos throughout the country, withdrawing a total of $510,500.

In December 2009, New York State Police and the U.S. Secret Service began investigating a pattern of fraudulent withdrawals that were occurring at the Seneca Niagara and Seneca Allegany casinos. On Dec. 12, 2009, several co-defendants were arrested following the execution of search warrants at three hotel rooms they rented in Salamanca, Cattauraugus County, and a van that they were driving. Officers seized a large amount of counterfeit credit card making equipment including credit card embossers, a tipping machine, credit card reader and sheets of credit card numbers.

Chen was arrested on Dec. 23, 2009 after being spotted in the courtroom during a proceeding relating to the co-defendants. He is the sixth defendant to be convicted. Cases are pending against the remaining three defendants.