"What went wrong?"
That's what I imagine a lot of convicted criminals find themselves thinking, sitting in their cell as they play over in their mind the events that led them to their imprisonment. So in this week's installment of odd and unusual credit card crimes, I'm going to be my usual helpful self and explain where these alleged crooks went wrong.
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Credit card safety tip: Check your dry cleaning
Crime: Credit card theft
Location: Chagrin Falls, Ohio
Play-by-play: The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported on Oct. 5 that in aptly named Chagrin Falls, an employee (now presumably an ex-employee) of a dry cleaner was accused of taking a credit card left in some clothing dropped off by a customer.
The unnamed Twinsburg man allegedly took the credit card to several Giant Eagle gas stations and purchased approximately "$400 worth of goods," the Dealer says. Given that these were convenience stores, I somehow find myself imagining him stocking up on Slim Jims and beer, but who knows? Anyway, for a while, it must have seemed to the 53-year-old that he had gotten away with his shopping spree.
What went wrong: It wasn't just the surveillance video, but maybe - just maybe - he shouldn't have used his own Giant Eagle Advantage Card to get discount points on his personal store account while using the stolen credit card at those Giant Eagle gas stations. Looking back on it, that may have been a mistake.
Credit card safety tip: Choose your restaurant carefully
Crime: Fraudulent use of a credit card
Location: Portsmouth, N.H.
Play-by-play: According to an Associated Press report, police in Portsmouth, N.H., charge that former restaurant owner Brian Pearson, 28, placed nearly $2,500 worth of charges (averaging $65 a pop) on as many as 37 people's credit cards for about nine months ending May 2011. However, authorities - as they began getting phone calls from the victims - started to see a pattern.
What went wrong: He went from being a boss to being a crime boss. All of Pearson's victims, at one time or another, had visited Bella Sol, a local restaurant owned by Pearson, and in each case, they had been double billed for their meals. If Pearson was trying to rip off his customers quietly…well, he may have been quiet personally, but his paper trail was quite loud.
Interesting tidbit: And while it looks at first glance as if Pearson may have been trying to stave off financial problems with his restaurant shutting down, the double billing didn't go to, say, paying off a landlord or a food supplier. Some of his alleged purchases went toward monthly gym membership fees and a visit to a Connecticut casino.
Credit card safety tip: Guard your mailbox
Crime: Mail theft
Location: Bellingham, Wash.
Play-by-play: Police arrested a man and woman - their identities haven't been released yet - earlier this week, according to KIRO-TV. They are suspected of stealing at least a dozen checks and credit cards from mailboxes. With the stolen credit cards, they would buy expensive items and, the next day, return them to the store for a cash refund.
Police say they were successful because they were so conspicuous and obvious about what they were doing that nobody suspected anything. The couple drove around in a red pickup truck with a flashing orange light on top, assuming that anyone who noticed them would figure that they were driving around on some official duty.
What went wrong: Going about their crime for too long, perhaps? Once the police got wind of what was happening, finding those suspects was pretty easy. They found a red pickup truck with a flashing orange light - one block away from the police department - and then pulled it over.
Credit card safety tip: Watch your wallet
Crime: Theft, identity theft and forgery
Location: Joliet, Ill.
Play-by-play: About a week ago, according to The Herald-News in Joliet, Ill., a man was in a Walgreens when his wallet fell from his pocket. Two minutes later, surveillance video showed a woman identified as Margaret T. Davis, 51, picking it up. She didn't take it to the lost and found.
Instead, Davis, along with her husband and 29-year-old son, allegedly used a credit card from the stolen wallet to buy cellphones as well as to purchase some things at a gas station and grocery store. They also attempted - evidently unsuccessfully - to get money from an ATM at a Walmart.
One can imagine that the Davis family must have felt pretty happy about their newfound fortune, and perfectly safe since this was, after all, a clear case of finders keepers, losers weepers. No judge in any playground would ever convict them.
Unfortunately, for them, a judge in a courtroom might. The day after the spree, Davis was pulled over by a police officer, who had quickly discovered the credit card theft and was able to speedily track her down.
What went wrong: The man whose wallet had been taken notified his bank and viewed the surveillance video with a detective. The next day, he saw a car that looked like the one that Davis had been driving. But what exactly did Davis do that made it so easy for her to be caught? Well, the man who lost the wallet had the initiative and experience to act fast.
He was a police officer who was on duty when he spotted Davis's car and pulled her over.
The original article can be found at CardRatings.com:Foiled again! Botched credit card crimes
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