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Criminal Charges: Volume II

Jeremy Simon

Welcome to the second edition of my ongoing look at credit cards and crime. I’ve found that it isn’t hard to come up with a weekly batch of stories that involve the criminal use and abuse of credit cards: The challenge involves finding those stories that stand out by being truly stupid or especially strange. Let’s get to it.

Time to make the gift cards
I could make some tired joke about how the fastest way to get arrested is by committing a crime involving a doughnut shop. But I won’t.

Instead, I’ll simply relate the story of Kevin Nguyen, a Dorchester, Mass., man who is accused of involvement in a small crime ring that used hundreds of stolen credit card numbers to buy over $100,000 worth of gift cards from Dunkin’ Donuts. His crew allegedly used the gift cards to buy large quantities of soda and coffee at the doughnut chain, which were then resold to independent stores at half price, police say.

Nguyen was busted in a local Dunkin’ Donuts shop on Tuesday, making him the second suspect arrested in the case. However, after Nguyen skipped his arraignment the following day, police issued a warrant for his arrest. As of last week, police were also looking for his sister, Hong Nguyen.

Here’s how their little scheme worked: “The suspects allegedly obtained the stolen credit card numbers online in chat rooms where police say people can buy the numbers for as little as 20 cents, including the expiration dates and the three-digit security passwords,” WBZ-TV reports. “In this scam, police said, stolen credit card numbers would be used to boost the balance of Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards up to the $200 maximum, and the suspects would use the gift cards to buy products and then sell them at local shops,” says Boston.com.

That’s one way to go after that Boston cream.

From the ‘With friends like these’ file
It’s painful enough to have your identity stolen, but it’s even worse to have it taken by someone you know and trust.

“William Moore and Lance Adkins were childhood buddies who continued their close relationship even after Moore’s family fell on hard times and Adkins joined the military and was shipped overseas,” reports Cincinnati.com. Adkins even gave his friend money on several occasions. When Adkins went overseas to serve as a military policeman for the Army, he had his mail directed to Moore’s address.

Sadly, Moore and his wife were not to be trusted and stole Adkins’ identity. “They obtained credit cards in his name to buy their kids Christmas presents and pay their family bills,” the Web site says. The Moores signed up for credit card offers mailed to Adkins — with the plastic then used for about $13,000 in charges to cover telephone, cable television, utility, auto parts and pharmacy bills.

Their actions cost Adkins his credit score. “The soldier found out about the cards — and the Moores’ crimes — when he tried to buy a car and was told he couldn’t because he credit was so bad,” Cincinnati.com says.

Initially charged with five felonies (involving identity fraud, theft and misuse of credit cards), Moore pleaded guilty to three felonies in exchange for prosecutors dropping the other two. He got two years of probation and was ordered to spend 30 days in jail. His wife was charged with five misdemeanors and pleaded guilty to three in order to have the other two dropped. She received 90 days in jail.

What a way to end a friendship.

Dumb: Thief gets delivery — at victim’s address …
Tip of the day: If you’re going to charge merchandise to a stolen credit card, don’t have it sent to the victim’s home address.

That’s where Stephanie Wright seemingly went wrong. Wright was arrested last week and charged with third-degree larceny, identity theft, credit card theft and illegal use of a credit card, reports the Connecticut Post.

Wright, the secretary at a Norwalk, Conn., (my hometown) building supply company, is accused of stealing a customer’s credit card number, which she then used to make more than $1,200 in Internet purchases. She is not accused of being overly intelligent.

When the identity theft victim returned from an overseas trip, “he found a large box on his doorstep from Linens ‘n Things,” the Post says. “Police said the man had not placed the order and later found that his credit card had been charged $344 for the purchase.” His credit card number had also been used without his knowledge for purchases at other stores.

“Investigators determined that the man’s credit card number had been copied at Quality Building Products, where he had used it to make a purchase,” the Post says. When police confronted her with the allegations, Wright denied stealing the card number.

That’s not surprising. Who would own up to a crime that dumb?

… and dumber: Forger can’t keep identities straight
A Garden State criminal was arrested in connection with use of a stolen credit card but should have been charged with sheer stupidity.

Robert Ballman, of New Brunswick, N.J., just couldn’t keep his aliases straight. Ballman “allegedly used a stolen credit card to make purchases at two Monticello businesses last Thursday, Aug. 7, and forged the name of the credit cardholder on the receipts,” MidHudsonNews.com reports.

Apparently, old habits die hard. “When he was arrested, he gave police a false name and forged the name of another person on his fingerprint cards during booking,” the Web site says.

Perhaps Ballman can plead multiple personality disorder.

Report your crimes
If you want to share any credit card-related crimes you find online, include the link in the “comments” section below. I look forward to seeing what you’ve read.

See related: Criminal Charges: Volume I, Criminal Charges: Volume III, Sorry, but your identity’s only worth chump change, If you’re a victim of fraud or identity theftBail yourself out of jail — with a credit card

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