CINCINNATI -- A grand jury issued indictments for five people in connection to using fake credit cards to steal $100,000 in furniture, alcohol, cars and other goods in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, police said.
A Hamilton County Grand Jury on Sept. 14 handed down indictments for Kevin Roberson, Dionte Dorsey, Jacqueline Collins, Ciarra Asbury and Jacinda Humphrey on charges of theft and telecommunications fraud. All suspects live in Cincinnati.
Greenhills Police Officer Zachery Clark followed the suspected thieves after they made a suspicious purchase at Bargains and Buyouts on Sept. 3. Clark followed the suspects, who were driving furniture to two locations using U-Haul trucks. Police stopped one of the trucks on the Norwood Lateral, and they stopped the other truck in Over-the-Rhine. Both trucks were full with stolen furniture, police said.
The suspects are accused of purchasing products with credit cards that were not activated or loaded with any money. When the transaction failed, a suspect told the clerk they were going to call the number on the back of the card. They would then call an accomplice, who pretended to be a bank representative, police said. The accomplice would give the clerk a four-digit number that would force the transaction through.
“The information to learn how to force these transactions is available on the internet,” according to police. Once the transaction goes through, the business does not know it is fraudulent for up to 48 hours later.
Police said the suspects also used the fraudulent credit cards to steal cars from small car lots, and they used the cards to rent the U-Haul trucks.
Karan Patel was working at Big Daddy's Liquor in Newport, Kentucky, in July when several people came in and wanted to buy 10 cases.
"They rang up about a $1,200 tab, and we tried to process their credit card and it declined," Patel said.
One of the people in the group making the purchase made a call, supposedly to the number on the back of the credit card for customer service.
"She asked to talk to the merchant — being us — and asked us to press a few buttons on the credit card machine and force the sale through," Patel said.
The same thing happened a day later at One Stop Liquors in Bellevue, Kentucky. Whitney Frommeyer described a similar scenario: expensive liquor, credit car, supposed call to customer service.
"We're out that money," Frommeyer said. "It's like holding the 'old maid' card. You get stuck with it."
Greenhills Police Chief Neil Ferdelman said anyone can go online and learn how to force a sale.
"Most everything can be learned through a YouTube video," he said.
It's a hard lesson learned by both liquor stores: be skeptical.
"If you think something's wrong with the card, call your bank to make sure that the transaction will actually go through before you let your merchandise go, because once they walk out with it, you're not going to see it again," Patel said.
Additional charges are pending, according to police.