CHICAGO (CBS) -- Federal prosecutors in Illinois and Indiana have charged more than two dozen people who allegedly used rap music videos and social media to help convince people with debit cards to sell their PINs and passwords as part of a scheme to defraud banks out of more than $1.7 million.
WBBM Newsradio's John Cody reports the feds were warning students to stay away from so-called "card cracking," even though it might sound like easy money.
Chicago U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon said, so far, 29 defendants have been charged in a scheme dating back to 2011.
"Cracking cards has its roots on the South Side of Chicago, but it has spread across the country, in part through rap music and use of social media," he said.
Hammond U.S. Atty. Dave Capp said the defendants solicited debit card numbers and PINs using music videos and social media, under the name "The Rack Boys."
"They would frequently feature large chunks of cash; or cars, clothing, what have you," Capp said.
Talented forgers created bogus checks to deposit in bank accounts, and would quickly withdraw up to $5,000 in cash, before the banks realized the checks were counterfeit.
Fardon said those who knowingly surrender their PIN for a "card-cracking" scheme are as much criminals as those doing the cracking themselves.
"If you do that, knowing that you're going to be receiving or sharing in the spoils from this criminal activity, that's a crime," he said.
Sixteen defendants face federal bank fraud charges in Chicago. Six others face conspiracy charges in Hammond. Seven face state charges in Cook County. All but 10 of the defendants have been arrested; warrants have been issued for 10 others.
If convicted, the defendants face up to 30 years in prison.
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