Protecting yourself, Research, regulation, industry reports

Criminal Charges: Volume VI

Jeremy Simon

So far in this column, I haven’t shown much love for criminals who make credit cards either the tools or targets of their trade.

This week, however, I’m asking you to crank up the Barry White, pour a glass of fine champagne and set your computer down next to the fireplace (just not too close to the fire) because that all changes with the “romance edition” of Criminal Charges.

The price of love
Some people have been known to charge for love and companionship, but it’s not often that they accept plastic.

An Okeechobee, Fla., man recently found out his “date” took credit cards, even though they were never offered to her. According to a police report released Sept. 4, the man “told police that after utilizing a prostitute’s services, he noticed his wallet with about $600 in cash and credit cards missing,” reports “Although the 57-year-old victim didn’t actually see the prostitute take the brown wallet, he said she was the only other person in his hotel room,” the Web site says.

Since the victim had no way of contacting the woman (whom he described as a “usual prostitute of the area”) to give her a chance to either return the wallet, cash and credit cards or clear her good name of the unfair accusation, he waited a day to report the crime so that he could search the hotel room a second time. I’m sure the police appreciated his thoroughness.

Man runs off with date’s credit card
An overnight date that stretched into lunch the next day turned sour when Jared W. Winans of Old Tappan, N.J., allegedly stole his date’s credit card.

“The ill-fated date started on May 21, and ended at about 12:30 p.m. the next day at the Applebee’s restaurant in New Dorp, [Staten Island] according to court papers,” reports Following their meal — which she paid for — Winans apparently snatched her plastic, which he later used to make about $100 worth of purchases in New Jersey and Massachusetts.

SILive says despite the woman picking up their tab, “it’s unclear if the two ever went on a second date, a law enforcement source said.”

Upon realizing her credit card was gone several days later, the woman filed a report. The police source says the investigation led to Winans, who had charged several small purchases one day after the encounter.

Winans had claimed to be a cop in order to boost his dating resume — but this he trick used to lure the ladies soon also caught the attention of the New York Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau.

For his efforts, Winans earned himself a date of a different kind: He was arrested Tuesday and charged with fourth-degree grand larceny, fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, petit larceny and fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property. SILive says “Winans told police he used the card by accident, after it fell into his car,” according to the police source.

Reports of a follow-up date between Winans and the woman were unavailable at press time.

Love the one you’re with
Sometimes you need to lavish attention on the person you’re spending time with — even if that person is yourself.

Kody David Merrival of Iowa City, Iowa, stands accused of doing just that. Only Merrival’s narcissism proved his undoing when he treated himself on someone else’s credit card, then signed his own name on the receipt.

Merrival decided to go out on the town with a stolen credit card. “Police said that Merrival used his own ‘Java Peaks’ account at Java House when he bought a $4.61 latte from the coffee house,” reports “Police said Merrival also used the credit card at Tobacco Bowl. According to police, Merrival purchased a carton of cigarettes for $52.47 and when he used the allegedly stolen credit card to buy the smokes, he signed the receipt with his own signature.”

He then tried to pay for more than $150 worth of merchandise at another downtown store, but the plastic came up as stolen. “Police said Merrival presented his actual identification when he attempted to make the purchase, but it was denied,” the Web site says.

When he was eventually nabbed by police, Merrival used a line straight out of the Winans textbook of smooth-talking, allegedly admitting that while he had used the credit card, the plastic was simply found in his living room after a party.

That story wasn’t enough to let him off the hook or to convince the cops to ask for an invite to Merrival’s next get-together. Instead, he was charged with four counts of unauthorized use of a credit card.

Pour your heart out
Go on — I welcome your comments in the section below.

See related: Criminal Charges I, II, III, IV, V


I was pleased to see that Criminal Charges: Volume IV was featured in Sept. 2 edition of the Carnival of Fraud. Thanks, Fraud Files.

Join the Discussion

We encourage an active and insightful conversation among our users. Please help us keep our community civil and respectful. For your safety, we ask that you do not disclose confidential or personal information such as your bank account numbers, social security numbers, etc. Keep in mind that anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.

The editorial content on is not sponsored by any bank or credit card issuer. The journalists in the editorial department are separate from the company's business operations. The comments posted below are not provided, reviewed or approved by any company mentioned in our editorial content. Additionally, any companies mentioned in the content do not assume responsibility to ensure that all posts and/or questions are answered.