The New York County District Attorney's Office recently announced the sentencing of 16 members of a Brooklyn-based credit card forgery and identity theft ring called S3.

Ringleader Shaheed Bilal, 29, was sentenced to between four and a half and nine years in state prison. His brother Rahim Bilal, 23, was previously sentenced to between two and six years, and another brother, Ali Bilal, 25, was previously sentenced to one to three years in prison. All three pleaded guilty to second-degree grand larceny.

"The ring ... purchased more than $1 million worth of iPads, iPhones and MacBooks over 2 1/2 years starting in 2008, and sold them to dealers in stolen goods in Brooklyn, New York," writes Reuters' Karen Freifeld. "They purchased credit card numbers online, probably from traffickers in Eastern Europe, according to a joint investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney and the United States Secret Service."

"Last February, as part of the arrest operation, investigators recovered 'three firearms, ammunition, and tools needed to manufacture credit cards,'" writes Betabeat's Nitasha Tiku. "The DA’s office also seized $300,000 in cash and bank account holdings. Although all 16 members of S3 have pled guilty, charges against eight of the individuals are still pending."

"This criminal organization was truly a family affair," New York District Attorney Cyber R. Vance said in a statement. "The boss, his girlfriend, and at least two of his brothers recruited others -- many of them, friends -- to act as shoppers at Apple stores around the country using stolen account information. The members of 'S3' purposely bought some of the most desirable electronic products on the market because they knew that they would be easy to resell, which is how they made their profit."