NEW YORK - The Manhattan District Attorney’s office indicted 4 people Tuesday as part of a theft ring that had allegedly raked in thousands of dollars.
Prosecutors say the group used stolen credit cards and phones to access cash apps where they bought Apple products and luxury goods totaling at least $420,000.
Authorities said the suspects went into nightclubs across the borough targeting those who appeared to be wealthy and under the influence.
The operation's leader would allegedly handpick their victims before he and his crew would encourage them to drink to the point of severe inebriation, in order to steal their credit cards and cell phones.
Authorities said the crew had been operating as far back as October 2022, with the latest incident in August last year.
Once they got the cards, they made stops at Apple Stores and luxury retailers to spend the money.
The thieves frequented the Apple store on Fifth Avenue, where prosecutors say they made more than $150,000 worth of purchases in a single three-hour visit.
"The defendants described their criminal activity as ‘Grinch-ing’ and referred to themselves as the ‘Grinch-sters’ or the ‘Grinch boys,’" prosecutors told a judge in court.
The DA’s office is advising New Yorkers to be vigilant following the case and concerning surges in theft across the city.
Officials are reminding New Yorkers to never hand their phone to a stranger, always use strong passcodes, keep an eye on your wallet and personal belongings, and frequently check your credit card statements for fraud.
The suspects are due back in court in April as they face charges that include larceny, identity theft, and conspiracy.