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New York-based Chinese ‘Organized Crime’ Group Steals Identity of 3,000+ Asian Texans

"I literally have to get up at night just to make sure that I don’t have any alerts coming in. Then you have to worry about if they got into my other accounts," Ping Du, a Chinese victim of identity theft, told The Dallas Morning News.
Neil Campbell
Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.
Published: March 3, 2023
An organized crime syndicate based in New York stole the identity of 3,000 Texas Asian residents
A file photo of NYPD officers in Chinatown following the 2022 Lunar New Year Parade in New York City. A New York-based “Chinese organized crime group” stole the identity of at least 3,000 Asian Texans following a massive 2020 privacy breech followed by lax State infosec practices. (Image: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

State of Texas authorities have informed the public that a New York-based “Chinese organized crime group” has stolen the identity of more than 3,000 Asians located in the Lone Star State following a fraudulent driver’s license scheme exploiting a data breach almost three years ago and loopholes in an online government portal.

Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) officials admitted the blunder to state House of Representatives members on Feb. 27 during a hearing, The Dallas Morning News reported.

Targeting Asian ‘look-alikes’

DPS Chief Chief Steve McCraw told lawmakers the perp was an undisclosed “Chinese organized crime group based in New York working in a number of different states.”

McCraw explained that the attackers obtained personal data on Texans of various Asian races on the dark web, such as personal ID and credit card numbers, which the mafia then used to order replacement driver’s licenses from the State.

The Morning News paraphrased McCraw as adding, “The group specifically targeted Asians of various backgrounds with the hopes of finding ‘look-alikes’ to match with Chinese nationals here in the country illegally.”


The cache of personal information sitting on the dark web appears to stem back to a massive data breach revealed to the public in November of 2020 where almost 28 million people had their driver’s licenses and other personal data stolen in a hack, the Morning News reported.

The reach of the attack is exceptional in that as of 2021, the Texas population is only slightly more than 29.5 million. The publication explained, “…the number includes former state residents and dead people who were issued licenses before February 2019.”

Virtually the only group spared from the breach were children, the outlet added.

“What do the crooks have? Your license information (name, address, DL number), the color, model, year and VIN of your vehicle and the lender to whom you make car payments,” the article stated.

Symptoms of the border crisis

Texas as a target is extremely significant in light of data released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection earlier in the month that revealed a 700 percent increase in Chinese nationals being apprehended in the long-running Southern Border crisis.

Feb. 10 reporting by the New York Post stated that CBP officials had apprehended 1,862 Chinese nationals illegally crossing the border in just Q4 2022, significant compared to 2021’s Q4 figure of only 229.

The article stated that in the previous week, three Chinese nationals had told CBP agents after being arrested that they paid smugglers $35,000 to enter America.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) told Fox News that Chinese nationals “are typically processed for expedited removal unless they claim to have a credible fear of persecution if returned to the country.”

“As a result, many are claiming that fear and are subsequently being released into the U.S. on their own recognizance and with a notice to appear for a court date for their immigration hearings,” Fox added.

In August of 2021, a DHS whistleblower told James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas that members of gangs listed on the Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCO) watchlist were gaining entry to America using the same loophole.

One specific instance, backed by DHS documents revealed to O’Keefe, said that an El Salvadorian member of the 18th Street Gang had applied for asylum while sponsoring an “Unaccompanied Alien Child.”

The whistleblower told O’Keefe that once asylum seekers stated they were in danger, their status would be updated from “Entry Without Inspection” to “Reasonable Fear,” removing them from the TCO.

Reasonable Fear status also allows would-be asylum seekers entry to the United States while they await official immigration proceedings, and even grants an Employment Authorization Card, described as “essentially…a work permit,” they added.

Holes in the fence

The Morning News explained the process of obtaining replacement licenses runs through the Texas Department of Information Resources, who shipped 2,400 IDs to “third-party addresses” after more than 4,000 new accounts were made.

DPS officials testified that all the Department of Information Resources (DIR) required to send out a new ID was a simple credit card number without the associated billing address or CVV security code.

“DPS first learned about the problem at the end of last year, but has not yet notified affected Texans because they have been working on the criminal investigation and apprehending those responsible,” the outlet paraphrased McCraw as adding.

A same-day report by The Texas Tribune further explained that the gangsters worked directly through the website, described as, “The central portal for Texans wanting to renew licenses, obtain driving records and registration, and obtain birth and death certificates, among other things.”

The article further explained the cost for a replacement ID was a mere $11, and that the DIR, rather than the DPS, operates the portal.

“DPS officials also did not specify or speculate whether the thieves could have used the password login scheme to obtain other things, like birth certificates,” the Tribune added.

According to the outlet, McCraw also told lawmakers the problem is that New York’s Chinese organized crime circles were able to obtain official copies of state identification instead of counterfeits, which are usually rife with tells.

They paraphrased McCraw as telling the legislature, “These stolen licenses can pass verification methods and be used fraudulently all over the country because they are real driver’s licenses being used by people who can pass for the photo on the original card,”

Far from victimless

The reach of the crime was elucidated in a second Feb. 27 article published by the outlet. A man named Ping Du, described as “of Chinese descent,” told the Morning News that while on vacation in Mexico, he was contacted by his bank and told that someone had updated his personal information.

“A bank representative told Du that someone had walked into a bank branch in New York and provided a physical driver’s license under his name,” the article explained, noting that Du was able to put a freeze on the account and escaped without harm.

However, related entities continued to open new credit cards under Du’s name sent to addresses he does not control, while also purchasing cellular phone accounts under his identity.

Du told the outlet, “I literally have to get up at night just to make sure that I don’t have any alerts coming in. Then you have to worry about if they got into my other accounts.”

New York hub

Transnational influence operations related to Chinese entities in New York State aren’t limited to the underground mafia.

At the end of February, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was rocked by a series of reports featuring leaks from CSIS, Canada’s spy agency, to network media involving conflicts of interest with the Chinese Communist Party.

One of the most notable is that of Member of Parliament Han Dong, who was alleged to have won the Liberal Party candidacy with the backing and support of the Toronto Chinese Consulate.

A striking excerpt from the reports was that Dong participated in “alleged meeting with a senior official from Beijing’s United Front Work Department in New York state,” based on CSIS documents viewed by Global News reporters.

Whether Chinese organized crime syndicates in the New York area are working with Southern Border human smuggling cartels remains unclear despite it being known that America’s spiraling fentanyl crisis is driven by mainland China-based manufacturers being coordinated by the Triad mafia who employ Mexican drug cartels

Regardless, as Texas Governor Greg Abbot has been bussing migrants arriving from the crisis to New York City, the Big Apple has been seriously impacted by the border crisis.

In September of 2022, New York homeless shelters were so encumbered by an increase in demand caused by the arrival of new migrants that 60 males were unable to find a place to sleep upon arrival.

Reporting by local media at the time stated it was the first instance where NYC was unable to meet the requirements of the “right-to-shelter” rule in 13 years.

October statistics released by the office of Mayor Eric Adams revealed that 76 percent of all migrants who enter the homeless shelter system—more than 11,800 out of 15,550 asylum seekers imported to the City at the time—had remained within the system over the long term.

Local reporting in October interviewing several migrants relying on the system found that many were gainfully employed, legally or illegally.

By November of 2022, the City government converted the Stewart Hotel into a migrant shelter as it was capable of housing 600 people.

“The new facility will be the fourth mega shelter opened inside the hotel which has been used to house recent arrivals to the city from the southern border, many of whom say they are seeking refugee status after fleeing violence and persecution in Venezuela,” Vision Times reported.