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Criminal Charges: Credit card fraud gets weird

Jeremy Simon

The thieves responsible for credit card fraud are a pretty unlikeable group. But when you consider this week’s crime stories involving adult entertainment stores, cross-dressing and automatic litter boxes, it becomes clear that some card scammers are pretty weird, as well.

  • An elderly Oklahoma man’s July 22 visit to an adult entertainment business proved to be his last. According to Tulsa World, that death apparently offered convicted felon Jamison Freeman the opportunity to steal the credit card belonging to Luther Younger Jr., who was found dead at Tulsa’s Dreamland Adult Arcades.
  • Lying about a deadly disease and stealing from the elderly will make you a wanted man — and not in a good way. Luckily, police in El Paso, Texas, have captured alleged con artist Jose Adrian Castillo, who apparently would tell elderly women he had terminal cancer in order to gain their sympathy, Newspaper Tree reports, before asking to borrow his victim’s credit card. In one case, the card was used to rent a BMW that was never returned; in another, it was used to charge $25,000 in merchandise.
  • In case you think card thieves don’t do hard time, a Philadelphia man was sentenced to 15 years in prison for surreptitiously snatching a woman’s wallet while she ate at a Panera Bread restaurant with her child, according to New Jersey’s Times of Trenton. Michael Grantham and his female accomplice were found to have used the victim’s credit card to buy two $1,000 gift cards and some bug spray (?) at a Lowe’s home improvement store.
  • Massachusetts police are seeking this cross-dressing credit card thiefWhat is it recently with men in drag and credit card theft? The Bryan County Sheriff’s Office reportedly found Jason Lee Navarrette passed out on an Oklahoma roadside, holding a stack of credit cards and money in his pink-nailed hands and laying on a bag containing a black wig. Meanwhile, Boston police are looking for a dress-wearing man who is accused of stealing credit cards, debit cards and cash from doctor’s offices, TheBostonChannel.com reports.
  • “Girls Gone Wild” founder — and all-around class act — Joe Francis apparently had an easier time in a Reno, Nev., jail after his former employee Aaron Weinstein allegedly doled out some bribes, including a Cartier watch and a $5,000 Saks Fifth Avenue department store gift card to former sheriff’s Sgt. Michon Mills, RGJ.com reports.
  • Jason Truxel of Vermilion, Ohio, found that the identity thief who took out credit cards and a timeshare mortgage and received a tax rebate in Truxel’s name was none other than his own father, Michael, the Plain Dealer Reporter says.
  • Authorities believe that a pair of Romanian men charged with ATM fraud in Maryland may be connected to a multi-state theft ring responsible for nearly $1 billion in losses, according to WJLA.com. Suspected fraudsters Mihai Ittu and Stefan Iancu were arrested in Oklahoma earlier this month and charged with identity theft, credit card misuse and theft.
  • As if magazines don’t already have enough troubles, the Charleston Daily Mail reports computer programmer Martin Bowling of Cross Lanes, W. Va., was charged with stealing the names and credit card information from Woodcrafters Magazine subscribers. A federal indictment says that Bowling used that information for more than $4,500 in Internet purchases, including movie tickets, cigars and an automatic litter box.
  • Some thieves enjoy automatic litter boxes, while other fraudsters are only satisfied with the truly high life: Canadian police say a group of suspects from the metro Vancouver and Winnipeg areas used a credit card scam to fund a brief-but-lavish lifestyle that included high-end hotel rooms, limousines and meals, the Winnipeg Sun reports.

Feel free to share your favorite credit card crime items by posting them in the comments section below — or sending them to my automatic kitty litter inbox.

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  • Credit card frauds use such innovative methods to stole personal information that one will wonder how identity theft can be prevented.

  • Surviving The Recession

    It’s sad that some people put so much effort into finding ways to steal other’s identity as opposed to thinking of a great business venture to get their own money. There are some precautions we can all take to avoid situations like this (hard ot think of considering how creative these are) but to start there are some free resources that allow online consumers to withold the sending of their personal information online while still managing to make online transactions. The percentage rate of this issue increases every year, and no one is beyond having it happen to them. I know a few people it’s happened to, so it kinda hits home.