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Criminal Charges: No rest for fraudsters

Jeremy Simon

Although it’s summertime, it seems that card thieves don’t take any time off. This week brings with it another healthy collection of credit card fraud and crime stories.

  • On July 26, St. Cloud, Fla., police caught an alleged thief with some seriously deep pockets. According to a report the Orlando Sentinel, Alexander Baez’s pockets were bulging with an array of stolen goods: 34
    CDs, nine lighters, a GPS device, digital camera, cell phone, watch, an
    earring, a razor blade, coins and paper money, a Wal-Mart gift card and
    a Visa credit card in someone else’s name
    . It’s not surprising police caught up with him as he ran away.
  • What’s worse: dating a thief or dating a cheat? One lucky lady in Staten Island, N.Y., apparently got both, in the form of boyfriend Brandon Green of Manhattan, who stands accused of stealing his girlfriend’s Visa card to join an online dating site, Staten Island Advance reports.
  • Going to the dentist is unpleasant enough without getting any unexpected charges. However, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reports that the country’s National Bureau of Investigations has filed a complaint against Dr. Sheila Theresa Galenzoga after one of her patients apparently discovered six unauthorized dental clinic charges billed to his credit card on March 15.
  • A Dover, Del., duo allegedly used a complicated check scam to defraud consumers and business out of more than $13,000, according to WBOC-TV news. Tena Abernathy and alleged accomplice John T. Moore apparently found victims for their scheme using Craigslist and compromised multiple credit cards to buy office furniture — and other items — online.
  • So much for the neighborhood watch program: A local block party on July 18 provided the ideal backdrop for Inverness, Ill., couple Kendra Smith and John Crenshaw to allegedly burglarize their neighbor’s home, later using a credit card they stole to rent videos at Blockbuster, reports ChicagoBreakingNewsCenter.
  • Even criminals can fall victim to crime. The Sun Messenger reports that Ohio police are investigating conflicting stories surrounding more than $3,600 in charges — including a Luxor Las Vegas bill — that appeared on two credit card statements for a prison inmate at Belmont Correctional Facility. As to where the missing plastic has gone, witnesses say that the inmate’s wallet might have changed hands at least three times shortly before the cardholder was incarcerated.
  • The Mid-Hudson News Network reports that Pearl River, N.Y., tax preparer Annina Munno has been charged with forging a $10,000 check from one of her clients’ credit card accounts, which Munno then tried to deposit into her own bank account.
  • Beware of grandchildren. Jessica Dawn Stover of Buffalo, W. Va., allegedly stole her grandfather’s MasterCard and Visa credit cards, which she used to make 55 purchases totaling about $5,500. Stover’s fraudulent purchases ranged from $1.47 to $422 and included buys at Taco Bell, Wal-Mart, Dairy Queen and Budget Inn, the Charleston Gazette reports.
  • Meanwhile, fake grandkids apparently aren’t any better. On July 20, a woman in Akron, Ohio, said she received a call from an unknown person claiming to be her grandson and asking the woman to wire $4,800 to a location in Canada, the South Side Leader reports. The grandson impostor called the woman twice more asking for money and credit card numbers, which the woman wisely didn’t provide.
  • You might even have to cross your own kids off the list of people to trust, at least based on a GateHouse News Service report. Police accused Manomet, Mass., teen Samuel Higgins of charging more than $500 on a Visa credit card his mother thought she had lost.
  • In a major online breach, a group of hackers calling themselves Team Elite compromised the security of U.K. counterintelligence agency MI5’s Web site, the Daily Express reported. Team Elite had previously hacked into the World Health Organization’s Web site and attacked Visa’s computer systems.
  • Back in the U.S., police in Chester, Pa., uncovered a counterfeit credit card and check-making operation, police in Macomb County, Mich., arrested two women suspected of participation in a stolen credit card fraud ring and two northeastern Louisiana residents were indicted for identity theft and credit card fraud for participation in a scheme to defraud debit and credit cardholders.

I look forward to hearing about any other noteworthy card crimes you may have encountered.

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  • Thieves can do virtually anything with your card from opening accounts in your name to paying their bills with your credit card.

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