Bonnie and Clyde of Identity Theft Arrested in NYC
NEW YORK—Amanda “Meme Zee” Zieminski and Clyde “C-Money CEO” Forteau lived a dream life built on the suffering of 80 people whose identities they allegedly stole over the course of five years.
Almost all their victims were elderly people on Staten Island whose medical files were snatched by Zieminski from South Shore Physicians, where she worked as a nurse. They allegedly stole at least $675,000.
On July 16 the love-struck duo and three accomplices were arrested. Richmond County District Attorney Daniel Donovan Jr. said his office would likely make five more arrests connected to the crimes.
Forteau proposed to Zieminski at Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World in April. A photo posted to Zieminski’s Facebook page show Forteau holding her close, and she wrote, “I’m living a fairy tale!!”
On Forteau’s Facebook page, photos show him sitting in the front row of football and basketball games, alongside the likes of Jay-Z and George Bush.
Zieminski wrote on Facebook that seeing all the city’s homeless people on her way to work “makes me realize how blessed I am.”
Yet the photos and comments they made on Facebook about their expensive escapades helped investigators tie the scheme together. The problem, said Donovan, is that Zieminski was fired in December 2012 for falsifying her time sheets, and “they didn’t have jobs.”
The couple allegedly ran an elaborate scheme with themselves at the top. Forteau’s brother, Jerome “It’s Holly” Forteau, allegedly acted as a middleman who oversaw two managers—each of whom had three runners beneath them.
Zieminski would allegedly steal patient data from her work and pass it to Forteau, who would then use it to compromise patients’ bank accounts, create credit and debit card accounts, and sometimes even falsify people’s tax returns and steal their tax refunds.
The people at the bottom worked out of drop locations—mainly post office boxes—that Forteau had registered using the stolen identities.
“There were times when Clyde was out of the country that Jerome would take over the business for him,” Donovan said. “And Jerome was the go-between for managers who would then manage the drop areas to drop accounts, and the tax returns would be delivered by mail.”
Unraveling their system took a careful investigation by police. The only information they had was that a group of seniors reported cases of identity theft, and all of them happened to be patients at South Shore Physicians.
NYPD Chief of Detectives Phil Pulaski said during the press conference, “It was very difficult to put this case together.” Officers used a mix of high-tech skills, which led to wiretaps, on-the-ground surveillance, and a collection of the helpful evidence the couple-in-crime posted to Facebook.
Pulaski said the investigation is “emblematic” of the kind of work the NYPD does today.
The dream life of Zieminski and Forteau is now crashing down.
Zieminski is facing 63 felony counts and Forteau is facing 65. Both of them are being charged with 26 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree, 1 count of enterprise corruption, and 16 counts of criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree.
Jerome Forteau and one of his managers, Abdul Yousef, are facing charges including enterprise corruption, criminal possession of stolen property, and grand larceny in the fourth degree.
Carmen Rivera, the only runner who has been arrested so far, is facing one count of identity theft in the first degree.