One of the latest schemes crooks are using to fraudulently purchase large ticket items with someone else’s credit accounts was reported by the Detroit Free Press. Four Metro-Detroit area men are being charged with running and identity-theft ring that worked in an unusual way. Instead of applying for a new credit card account with a victim’s identity or stealing the actual card, these thieves added their names as authorized users on active accounts and make thousands of dollars in fraudulent purchases.
An affidavit filed in U.S. District Court, charged the suspects with thousands of dollars of illegal purchases at Sears and JC Penney stores in Livonia, Taylor, Ann Arbor and Roseville. The alleged ringleader and one of the three other suspects have already served time in federal prison for the very same crime – identity theft. Both men are in custody and scheduled to appear in federal court. The two remaining suspects were also charged in the scheme.
The elaborate con required personal identification numbers and personal information – full name, date of birth and Social Security number, which were used to obtain a credit report online. With the profile in hand, the crooks could easily see where the victim had credit accounts and impersonate the victim to add their name to the account as an authorized user. From there it was off to the mall where surveillance cameras caught the suspects charging thousands of dollars worth of credit card purchases. The merchandise was then sold and the three co-conspirators were given a cut, with the ringleader keeping the lion’s share.
The case had no leads until September when one of the suspects was caught at a Roseville JC Penney trying to purchases nearly $1,400 in merchandise with a credit card that he had fraudulently been added to. Records show that the theft was first spotted in January and involved nearly $82 thousand in losses from various credit accounts. The four defendants are charged with wire fraud, credit fraud and identity theft.
This is the latest example to show the importance of checking your monthly credit card statements for fraudulent activity. If you find something questionable, immediately contact your credit card company and put a freeze on the account. Review your credit report at least bi-annually to help prevent thieves from stealing what belongs to you. For more information about credit and a complete list of credit card offers, visit ASAPCreditCard.com.