By GARY POPP
Clarksville police arrested five people Wednesday believed to be responsible for what the U.S. Secret Service has called the largest credit card fraud operation they’ve seen in the Louisville area, CPD Chief Mark Palmer said.
The five arrested are: Trevor A. Hinds, 44; Amanda G. Adam, 21; Tycia S. Peterson, 27; Paul N. Roberson, 35; and Blandine S. Joseph, 37. Their preliminary charges include felonies for forgery and fraud.
Police reported that each of the suspects is from New York, and each could be charged with nearly 50 additional counts of forgery. Palmer said the group is believed to have traveled from New York in a rented car via Boston to the Louisville area using the fraudulent credit cards along the way. He said the group didn’t make any costly purchases until reaching the Louisville area.
The group is believed to have used the fraudulent cards to rack up about $30,000 in charges in the past four days at a variety of business in Louisville. Through investigation, it’s been determined the group made a single purchase of $4,500 worth of cigarettes at a Louisville Walmart, Palmer said.
An employee of Sam’s Club on Veterans Parkway contacted authorities about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday after one of the suspects had allegedly attempted to make a purchase using a fraudulent credit card. Authorities were given a detailed description of the suspects, a description of the vehicle they were traveling in and its direction of travel. Palmer said a CPD officer was in the area and located the suspects’ vehicle within several minutes on Green Tree Boulevard and followed the vehicle into the nearby Red Lobster parking lot.
Two of the suspects left the vehicle and went into the restaurant, Palmer said. Police entered the restaurant and found one of the suspects in a bathroom and the other suspect in the restaurant, possibly looking for an exit, Palmer said.
The driver of the vehicle gave police consent to search the automobile, and police found a bundle of about 300 credit cards tucked under the driver’s seat. Palmer said the credit cards have the names of the suspects printed on them, and the majority of the cards are tied to accounts of innocent victims.
“Each of the suspects had about 40 to 50 cards in their names,” Palmer said.
The suspects were taken from the restaurant parking to CPD headquarters.
While there, one of the female suspects was found with an additional 40 fraudulent credit cards in her possession.
While the suspects were at the department, police were contacted by an employee of Red Lobster and informed that 10 credit cards were found in the toilet of the bathroom that the suspect had been removed from by police.
Palmer said no merchandise was found in the vehicle the suspects were traveling in, but several Federal Express packages were found, which led police to believe the suspects were possibly mailing the fraudulently purchased goods. He said it is also possible the group was traveling with a second vehicle that was storing the merchandise.
Palmer said the arrests have created a significant workload for his investigators, who he expects will spend the next two weeks piecing together the suspects’ purchasing history with the fraudulent credit cards. He said the U.S. Secret Service assisted with the case by letting CPD investigators access their database as they continue to investigate the case.
While additional preliminary charges are pending, all five suspects have been preliminarily charged with forgery, a class C felony, and fraud, a class D felony.
Hinds was found with about $100 of counterfeit $10 and $20 bills in his shoe as he was being booked into the Michael L. Becher Adult Correctional Complex, Palmer said, which resulted in a preliminary charge of class C felony counterfeiting.
The suspects’ cases are still being processed, Clark County court officials said, and have not been assigned to a specific court as of press time.