Credit Card Crime: Bad Girlfriends and Bad Samaritans

Stealing a credit card--and especially the challenging part of getting away with it--seems like an awfully stressful activity.

After all, you either buy a lot of things, get caught and get sent to jail. Or you spend someone else's money and then spend all of your time wondering if you'll get caught and sent to jail. You can see what I mean in our latest roundup of unusual credit card crimes.

"Good" Samaritan, Part 1

The reported on Aug. 31 that a couple from Oil City, Penn., Gregorio and Lora Valencia, 27 and 43, found a wallet near the Seneca, Penn. post office, and being considerate people, brought it to the front desk.

Well, it wasn't all that considerate, actually. They returned the wallet only after allegedly taking some things from inside it, namely money, gift cards and a credit card. Apparently, in between finding the wallet and returning it, they went shopping.

Hard to know what they were thinking by dropping the wallet off at the post office. Perhaps they figured that the least likely suspects for identity theft would be the Good Samaritans who reported the theft. Or maybe their guilty consciences were nagging at them. The police told the Associated Press that Lora Valencia said that they left the wallet at the post office so the victim wouldn't lose all of her other cards and identification, apparently everything that the Valencias decided not to use for themselves. How thoughtful.

Of course, the Valencias seem to have been thinking mostly about their shopping spree. Police are pretty confident in their case because they were able to find their images on security footage at the Walmart and some other stores that they visited with their victim's plastic.

"Good" Samaritan, Part 2

The News Star (Monroe, La.) reported on Aug. 30 that back in July, a woman found herself stranded at a Cracker Barrel parking lot, thanks to a dead battery, and was likely very grateful when Calvin Carter, 42, stopped to see if there was anything he could do. Unfortunately, according to the report, while he was helping her jump start her car, he was also helping himself to her wallet in order to jump start his economy.

The wallet contained $70 in cash and some credit cards.

Afterwards, the woman went on her merry way, and so did Carter, allegedly buying $64.80 worth of gas and $19.02 in beer. Then he apparently gave the wallet to a pal, who is believed to have used the cards at two places before they were cancelled.

Carter is now spending some quality time at the Ouachita Correctional Center.

Not a break room, but a break-in room

A common tactic of credit card thieves seems to be--at least, based on what we've written about in this space before--to naturally go where people keep their money. That doesn't mean catching some luck, if you're a crook, and spotting a purse or wallet lying in a car, although certainly criminals do that. And that doesn't mean sneaking into a house, where there could be a burglar alarm system or a vicious dog lying in wait, although certainly criminals do that, too. No, thieves seem to be partial to actually going into the workplace, whether a hospital, school, or doctor's office, during working hours when burglar alarms and dogs are in shorter supply, and finding unguarded credit cards.

So if your workspace can be entered by anyone off the street, even if it seems unlikely, it's best to keep your purses and wallets hidden, or even better, locked up or with you.

It happened recently at the Indian Mound Mall in Heath, Ohio. According to a WSYX ABC6 story dated Aug. 30, Tonya L. Middleton, 38, made the rounds of break rooms of stores, allegedly swiping credit cards from the lockers of employees who work at a Michaels, Best Buy, Petland, Aeropostale, Elder-Beerman and Target. She then used the credit cards to buy, among other items, iPods, laptops and a PlayStation 3. All in all, she reportedly spent around $30,000.

When she was caught by police, she gave the authorities a fake name, false date of birth and a bogus Social Security number. That should win her a lot of points with the grand jury when they review her case.

Meanwhile, they're still looking for her accomplice, a man with a prosthetic leg who apparently was her getaway driver.

Another reason why the dating scene is so tough&

Looks like there's a boyfriend who won't be making up with his girlfriend anytime soon. reported on Aug. 29 that an employee at Lyon's Roofing in Piney Flats, Tenn., claims his company credit card was stolen by his girlfriend, Cassandra Smith, 20, who lives in Bluff City, Tenn. According to the report, the business owner called police to report credit card fraud, and an investigation found that over a period of eight months, the company credit card had been used 77 times for questionable purchases. Like at a pizza place. The employee reportedly said the card was stolen and being used by Smith. The sheriff's office is currently looking for Smith. And the employee, I'm speculating, is now looking for another girlfriend--and possibly another job.

The original article can be found at card crime: Bad girlfriends and bad Samaritans