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Criminal Charges: Volume XVIII — Thieves aim high

Jeremy Simon

A few weeks ago in the Criminal Charges column, I brought you credit card crimes related to the ordinary staples of life — cigarettes, bread and booze. This week’s batch of alleged credit card crooks has in common the exotic, including a Mustang, chartered planes, wine and roses.

Muscle car enthusiast charges Mustang to stolen plastic
While some drivers buy their automobiles using a credit card, Saeed Cousar chose to buy his car with someone else’s plastic.

Cousar, of Jersey City, N.J., has been charged with running up $50,000 worth of fraudulent purchases, including a 2009 Ford Mustang. While already in jail on other charges, Cousar was served a warrant of suspicion of identity theft and fraudulent use of credit cards on Nov. 21, according to police.

The investigation into Cousar’s questionable use of plastic started in August after the legitimate cardholder alerted police that his credit card had been compromised. On Nov. 21, authorities executed a search warrant at a Jersey City residence. DailyRecord.com reports that at that home “authorities said they found lists of more than 150 names — along with their dates of birth, Social Security numbers and drivers’ license numbers.”

Police say they also discovered credit histories for some of the listed names in addition to a number of “fraudulently obtained” credit cards and a computer and other materials allegedly used to make fake IDs and checks.

Pilot books charter flights with bad credit card
A pilot who briefly used an invalid credit card number to book charter flights has been grounded.

Authorities say George M. Salameh of Lorain, Ohio, chartered three private flights valued at more than $80,000 using a bad credit card number he provided to Millennium Aviation. “Salameh took a chartered plane April 22 from Reading to Lorain to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and then to Belmar, N.J.,” the Reading Eagle reports, citing court records. “Three days later, he flew from Belmar to Lorain to Fort Lauderdale to Orlando, Fla., to Lorain, then back to Belmar and then to Reading. On May 1, he flew from Belmar to Lorain, then to Orlando, Miami and Reading.”

Court records show that when Millennium later submitted the billing information to Salameh’s credit card company on May 9, the card was turned down as invalid. Detectives say that Millennium officials communicated with Salameh between May 9 and June 16, but Salameh told the company officials to “relax,” saying that they would get their money. However, he eventually broke off communications.

Although he was able to fly a plane, Salameh evidently wasn’t able to keep his cards straight. According to the paper, investigators found out that Salameh also had a valid credit card account with the same issuer that had a different identification number from the number used to charter the flights.

Salameh was taken into custody on Nov. 4 and was arraigned on Nov. 25 for charges of theft stemming from the scam.

Low-down deliveryman detained Down Under
Aussie gift recipients may want to be wary of men bearing wine and flowers. David John Hennessey allegedly posed as a deliveryman in order to swipe credit card information and was recently arrested after a police stop in northern Sydney, Australia, allegedly uncovered card skimming devices in his car.

“Police allege that Hennessey had defrauded 10 residents of the Eastwood-Gladesville and Ku-ring-gai areas of AUS$32,000 by posing as a delivery man bearing wine and flowers,” The Sydney Morning Herald reports. “Before the victims received the package they were told they needed to swipe their credit cards to pay a delivery fee of AUS$3.50. Police allege that in all cases those involved swiped their credit card into a hand-held machine and were given a receipt for their payment,” although police say no card was provided that indicated who the package was from.

That’s because Hennessey himself was the secret admirer — of his victims’ bank accounts. “Police allege Hennessey used details gathered from a scanning device to access the accounts of 10 victims and make unauthorized withdrawals totaling between AUS$2,000 and AUS$15,000,” the paper reports. Hennessey was refused bail in court on Nov. 22.

See related: How to buy a car with a credit card — and when not to

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