3 indicted in elaborate credit card scheme that stretched to China

CINCINNATI - Three men were indicted Friday for an elaborate credit-card fraud scheme that cost banks more than $150,000.

Christopher Grier, 26, Jonathan Martin, 26, both of Indiana, and Ricky Lonners, 30, of Illinois, are all charged with four counts of possession of criminal tools, three counts of money laundering, and one count each of aggravated theft, theft, telecommunications fraud, misuse of a credit card, receiving stolen property and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.

If convicted, all three face 39 ½ years in prison.

The indictment alleges the trio stole credit card information and purchased expensive items such as iPads. The items were then sent to China for reimbursement and additional credit card information, which they would use for future purchases. The exact amount of loss is still being calculated, according to the prosecutor's office.

Authorities first came across the operation following a routine traffic stop on Interstate 74 on March 26, when police stopped Grier and found 45 credit cards and a small digital scale in his car. After apprehending Grier, police were led to the Holiday Inn Express hotel at 10906 New Haven Road in Harrison Township, Ohio.

There authorities found 44 more credit cards, handwritten notes containing credit card information, a laptop computer and a credit card scanner. They also arrested Martin and Lonners at that time.

Credit card fraud ranked only second to government benefits fraud for the most common form of reported identity theft in 2012, according to the Consumer Sentinel Network report released February 2013. Ohio ranked 26th in the number of identify theft complaints with 8,891 in 2012.

The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office, the Regional Enforcement Narcotics Unit, the United States Secret Service and Fifth Third Bank assisted in the investigation.

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