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Criminal Charges: The latest, strangest card crime items

Jeremy Simon

Continuing to supply the latest and strangest credit card crime items from around the Internet and across the globe, this week’s edition of Criminal Charges includes stories of colon cleansing and card skimming, pizza deliverymen and pimpin’ videos.

  • Proving that truly anyone can have their identity swiped, CNN reports that last summer the wife of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke had her handbag stolen, along with the family checkbook, credit cards and her identification contained inside. In a statement provided to CNN on Aug. 27, the Fed chief acknowledged that his family was among those victimized in 500 instances of theft connected to a single bank fraud ring.
  • In the ongoing “SoupNazi” hacker saga, AFP reports that Albert Gonzalez — the man accused of directing the largest credit card heist in U.S. history — agreed on Aug. 28 to plead guilty to charges in two other cases that could result in a jail sentence of up to 25 years.
  • Corky Edwards just wanted his colon cleansed, not his bank account emptied. However, reports that Edwards fell victim to a consumer fraud when his decision to pay with a debit card resulted in some unauthorized charges by the company marketing the colon cleanse for weight loss.
  • Shouldn’t lawyers know better? The Hartford Courant reports Vernon, Conn., attorney
    Heather Kaufmann has been charged with using her dead aunt’s ATM card
    and writing a check on the deceased woman’s account to her boyfriend, a
    University of Connecticut law professor
    , for a combined total of
    more than $3,200. Kaufmann had previously served as the professor’s
    attorney in October 2007 when he agreed to take a leave of absence
    after screening a clip of the film “Really, Really Pimpin’ in Da South”
    in his legal remedies class.
  • A Pittsburgh, Pa., man robbed of his cell phone and credit cards used his phone’s Global Positioning System to help locate alleged muggers Bryant Rather and Brent Ray Potter, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Police say that when they visited the victim’s home following the robbery, he was already canceling his bank and credit cards and using a computer to track the whereabouts of his cell phone using its GPS.
  • Three Midwestern men stand accused of using a prescription drug scheme to rip off thousands of senior citizens nationwide, the Associated Press reports. According to prosecutors, 44-year-old Grant Wilms, 74-year-old Hermann Wilms, both of Overland Park, Kan., and 83-year-old Kenneth Opstein, of Sioux City, Iowa, operated companies that offered prescription drug discounts. However, the men instead used customer bank or credit card information to withdraw funds in amount of $110 or less. 
  • Officials say that a waiter used an electronic skimmer to steal credit card information from at least 100 patrons at restaurants in Jersey City, N.J., and Newark, N.J. That information was then passed along to an identity theft ring that made tens of thousands of dollars worth of fraudulent charges. Although authorities have not identified the specific waiter involved in the scheme, three men — Joaquin Martinez of Weehawken, N.J., Anuar Prado of Elizabeth, N.J., and Julian Garcia of Newark, N.J. — have been arrested on identity theft charges, the Jersey Journal reports.
  • Meter maids deserve your respect. The search of an illegally parked rental car in downtown Calgary, Canada, has resulted in the arrest of four men with suspected ties to organized crime and one of the biggest seizures of credit card and debit card skimming equipment in the city’s history, reports CBC News.
  • The Star Press reports that Judith Lee Coleman, the former executive director of the Muncie, Ind., YWCA has been charged with embezzling more than $80,000 during the four years leading up to her firing in July 2008. When her YWCA plastic was discovered to include charges of thousands of dollars to local stores, restaurants and retailers, Coleman allegedly claimed she must have mixed up her personal and work credit cards. 
  • A Staten Island, N.Y., deliveryman for Domino’s Pizza apparently had a scheme to punish customers he felt were “bad” or “snotty,” according to the Staten Island Advance. For such customers who had originally placed a pizza order over the phone using a credit card, after making a pizza delivery, Pedro Lamboy would then allegedly alter tip amounts on the card receipts he brought back to the store. Lamboy allegedly told police that he added tips of no more than $5 per card to about 10 customers’ orders. 
  • Separately, a man from nearby Brooklyn, N.Y., reportedly told police he was at a party in New York City’s Meatpacking District in the early hours of Aug. 12 and drank two beers, the Villager says. The man says that he passed out then woke up more than eight hours later and 27 blocks to the north, beside the West Side Highway with his iPhone and credit cards missing. There has also been an unauthorized $400 withdrawal on a debit card and $300 in unauthorized credit card charges.

Hope to see you next week for even more exciting and outlandish tales of card crime.

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