By CHRIS MORRIS
NEW ALBANY —
Five residents from New York are facing numerous charges after being arrested earlier this month for possessing hundreds of counterfeit credit cards in Clarksville.
U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett of the Southern District of Indiana and Secret Service Special Agent Paul R. Johnson said Wednesday that Trevor Hinds, 54, Tycia Peterson, 27, Paul Roberson, 33, Amanda Adam, 21, and Blandine Joseph, 37, used counterfeit cards throughout the Midwest, spending more than $150,000. Johnson said that total may increase as the investigation continues.
As was reported by the News And Tribune on April 11, Roberson, Peterson and Adam tried to purchase iPads at Sam’s Club in Clarksville. Those transactions were denied and the store’s security team alerted law enforcement.
All five then left Sam’s Club parking lot, according to the criminal complaint filed, and were followed to a nearby Red Lobster by a Sam’s Club loss prevention employee who then contacted Clarksville Police Department.
Officers then entered the restaurant, according to Hogsett, and began questioning the defendants. They searched the Nissan Altima — which was occupied by two of the subjects — and found more than 300 counterfeit credit cards made out in the names of all five defendants. The vehicle they were driving was registered to a company in East Elmhurst, N.Y. More credit cards were also allegedly found in the restrooms at Red Lobster.
The five had purchased cigarettes with the fraudulent cards from Sam’s Clubs in Louisville and Lexington.
“This is a growing problem in the country,” Hogsett said at a press conference held inside the Lee Hamilton Federal Building in New Albany. “While these charges may represent the end of the road for these defendants and their scheme, the road to recovery for the hundreds of potential victims in this case has unfortunately only begun.”
While the credit cards were fake, the numbers were stolen from valid cards issued to individuals throughout the United States and beyond. Johnson said organizations, many in Eastern Europe, breach a system, obtain the numbers and sell them.
“Some folks out there desperately want your identify, your mother’s identity and your children’s identity,” Johnson said. “And due to the magic of social media, millions of people are vulnerable out there. You just have to be very careful when sharing personal information.”
Hogsett and Johnson praised the work of Sam’s Club security personnel and CPD. Mark Palmer, CPD chief, previously said it will be easier to prosecute the five on a federal level.
“Education is how we can combat this,” Johnson said. “Here we had an alert clerk who contacted store security who then notified police. This is very much a success story.”
Johnson said a counterfeit bill was also found on one of the individuals.
The five have been charged with the use and possession of more than 15 counterfeit and unauthorized access devices, and the conspiracy to commit these offenses, according to a release from Hogsett’s office. If convicted, they each face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and up to three years supervised release at the end of their sentence.