Thursday, August 21, 2008
By John W. Goodwin Jr.
Police are asking patrons to check credit card statements.
LIBERTY — Police are investigating a stolen-credit-card ring that originated at a Belmont Avenue business and may affect dozens of local customers and others passing through the area.
Police Chief Richard Tisone said police believe Alexandria Daniel, 18, of Maywood Drive in Youngstown, over a period of several weeks this summer scanned the personal credit cards of customers at McDonald’s Restaurant on Belmont Avenue into a device, and then made duplicate cards to be used later.
Police raided a home on Hadley Street in Youngstown the day of Daniel’s arrest and found what is believed to be a stash of the items purchased with the duplicate cards, along with computer software used to make the duplicate plastic cards.
Daniel is charged with felony identification fraud and felony complicity to misuse credit cards. She is free on a personal recognizance bond and due back in Girard Municipal Court for a preliminary hearing Sept. 24.
Tisone said police are also looking for four more people connected with the theft of the credit card numbers. He said police are not releasing those names until after arrests have been made. Those four individuals will face the same felony charges filed against Daniel.
According to Tisone, police began looking into the situation a few weeks ago after complaints about misused credit cards began to surface.
“We were having individuals come to the police department and advising us that their credit cards had been compromised. These were people from all over the state. Our detective bureau with Detective Sgt. Tom Couche looked at all these cases and found the common denominator. That common denominator is the McDonald’s on Belmont Avenue,” he said.
Police believe Daniel would carry a device that reads credit card information while working at the restaurant. When patrons paid for food with a credit card, she would scan their card information — then make credit cards with the others now being sought by police.
Tisone said the duplicate credit cards were used at Wal-Mart, Target, BP, and a list of other stores around the area. He said anyone using a credit card at the McDonald’s store between July 23 and Aug. 16 should check credit card statements and notify police of any unauthorized charges.
Police have discovered $6,000 in charges on the credit cards of 15 people so far, but they believe more people will come forward.
“We believe we are just scratching the surface on what we believe we are going to find,” Tisone said.