Are credit card thieves attempting to revive a slowing economy?
Consumer spending makes up two-thirds of the United States economy, so recent data indicating that consumers are putting away their credit cards is cause for concern. Still, while cardholders may not be using their plastic, thieves are. At least that’s what our latest round of credit card crime tales suggests.
Montana man charges casino visits, Hummer rental to dad, among others
A Billings, Mont., man earned himself 57 months in prison on Wednesday after going on a spending spree using credit cards belonging to his father, a man serving in Iraq and other victims.
Richard R. Laufer, III, was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to fraud and identity theft, which in addition to his jail time, includes over $13,000 in restitution and 3 years of supervised release.
In May 2007, Laufer opened a new account through the Bank of America call center after being told his father’s business card account was closed. “Using the card number he had obtained by posing as his father, along with the card information of several other victims, Laufer went on a spending spree in Billings,” according to a press release from the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Montana. Those charges include $3,500 in cash advances and roughly an additional $2,000 at other casinos on his father’s credit card, $8,230 mostly at casinos for cash advances on the credit card of a man who was was serving in Iraq and a total of $2,823 at hotels, casinos and a gas station on another woman’s credit card, among others.
Laufer’s gambles didn’t pay off. When he was arrested on June 5, 2007, Laufer had five Social Security cards, hand-written scripts related to posing as a credit card investigator, a stolen credit card, numerous credit card numbers with expiration dates, an assortment of hats and jackets that he was seen wearing on surveillance videos at locations where he used stolen credit cards and personal information on victims he had stolen credit cards from. Additionally, Laufer was driving a Hummer3 that he had rented on his father’s credit card.
“Part of Laufer’s scheme involved calling ahead and putting food and hotels on other people’s card numbers. Laufer would call people posing as a credit card fraud investigator to get their credit card numbers,” the press release says.
With one of the stolen credit cards used 14 times for a total of $2,823 at hotels, casinos and a gas station, you have to wonder just how much of that went to pay for filling up the Hummer’s gas tank.
Pastor’s card swiped during church service
You really must not have the fear of God in you if you’re willing to steal a pastor’s credit card as he delivers his Sunday sermon.
That’s exactly what one thief did during a Fort Worth, Texas, church service led by Rev. Rob Hamby.
As Hamby delivered a sermon encouraging the congregation to go out and show mercy to others, “someone snuck into a back room at the church and snatched his briefcase, which he said contained a laptop, credit cards, keys and receipts for business expenses,” reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “In all, he estimates that he’s out more than $5,000.”
Even before the 10 a.m. service had concluded, the thief had charged $200 for shoes at Foot Locker, $676 for a diamond from a department store and $333 at Lowe’s, as well as making a purchase of gasoline on the credit card.
Fort Worth police are investigating. Whether or not they are seeking a suspect bold enough to wear a crucifix is unknown.
Traffic stop gives police entry into credit card fraud ring
A routine traffic stop on April 10 resulted in more than simply a moving violation, providing Newport News, Va., police with 17 fake credit cards, fake IDs and entry into a criminal card ring.
When stopped, Terrance Rainey of Philadelphia initially provided a false name, and when he was taken back to police headquarters, he tried to escape. “During a subsequent interview at the Newport News City Jail, Rainey, who said he had come to Newport News to ‘shop’ with stolen credit cards, admitted he made a ‘bad decision’ in trying to escape but would not say why he gave a false name,” reports dailypress.com. “But in recent weeks, a possible motive became clearer as the scope and scale of the credit card fraud emerged.”
That motive appears to be his involvement with a stolen credit card scheme that stretches across a number of states, according to authorities.
“Newport News police recently arrested Shawanna Bailey, the owner of a business in Newport News, and her husband Carlos Bailey, who both live in Hampton, accusing them of being part of the scheme in a case that went federal a week ago,” dailypress.com reports.
Among the items recovered from Rainey were a stack of credit cards bearing the name Blake Wayne. But even after Rainey was jailed, credit cards under the name Blake Wayne continued to be used, court documents say. According to an affidavit, secret service agents received complaints that fraudulent credit cards in Wayne’s name were used to buy Visa and American Express gift cards at Farm Fresh stores between June 26 and June 29, 2008, for losses amounting to $12,000.
Just where were those gift cards used? In at least eight cases, the cards were redeemed at Shoe Phonetic, a store that business license records show is owned by Shawanna Bailey. Gift cards, counterfeit gift cards and a credit card machine were seized from the store, with gift cards and credit cards also taken from Bailey’s car.
I’m no economist, but it’s got to be a lot harder to contribute to the health of the economy from behind bars.