In late February, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) announced that, months prior, the state unknowingly shipped thousands of driver’s licenses to an international organized crime group based in New York. The group targeted Texans of Asian descent, affecting at least 5,000 Texans, according to The Dallas Morning News.
On April 21, 2023, after months of working on the case alongside federal agencies, the DPS announced its first arrest and informed that the scam was far more sweeping than initially reported, extending across multiple states and making six-figure ripoffs.
In February, The Dallas Morning News spoke to an Allen resident who was a victim of the scam. Ping Du said he was on vacation when his bank informed him someone had tried to update his personal information on record by impersonating him with a physical driver’s license. Fortunately, Du was able to freeze his bank account before the scammer could withdraw any money, but other people were not as lucky.
The IDs were used to draw money from their bank accounts, buy luxury cars and open credit cards at the expense of thousands of victims.
Tony Cao Li, 33, was arrested on April 12 in Flushing, N.Y., one of the locations where large batches of Texas-issued licenses were sent to. Li was extradited from New York on Friday and is facing several charges for breach of computer security and fraudulent use or possession of identifying information.
According to The Dallas Morning News, in addition to a handful of addresses in New York and Atlanta, driver’s licenses were sent to a marijuana farm in Oklahoma and the DPS was able to recover only a portion of the fraudulent driver’s licenses that have been popping up across the country. The biggest batch recovered were 600 licenses found by local police in Smyrna, Tenn. in a hotel room.
While no names have been released yet due to the ongoing investigation, DPS officials said more arrests are expected.