Herkimer police make arrests in connection with fraudulent debit cards
Herkimer police have arrested two people they say used forged debit cards to make purchases at Wal-Mart and then sold the items over the Internet to turn a profit.
Police received a call from Wal-Mart security April 8 after a man was attempting to purchase an $800 gift card with multiple credit cards that were being denied. Security followed him outside and recorded his vehicle's description for police.
As police approached the store, they noticed the vehicle, a 2008 Ford van, was headed west on state Route 5. Officers pulled the van over in the town of Herkimer, shortly before the Ilion exit.
During an investigation, police said, they found 42 debit cards issued by VISA, Mastercard and Discover inside the van. There were also 15 Wal-Mart gift cards.
Police said the driver and passenger in the van were initially identified as Alex Prime and Quincy Thompson. Prime had a Florida driver’s license, which officials later learned was his brother’s. He was then identified as Jerry R. Prime, 30, of Brooklyn. Thompson, also of Brooklyn, gave a false birth date.
Both were arraigned in Herkimer Village Court and sent to the Herkimer County Correctional Facility. Prime was charged with second-degree criminal impersonation and driving with a suspended license. Thompson was charged with false personation and unlawful possession of marijuana.
Prime was found to be wanted in Snow Hill, Md., on a counterfeit warrant.
Wal-Mart Field Investigator Dave Rucker had law enforcement officials seeking Prime’s whereabouts for the last six months from Florida to New York regarding a larceny of over $70,000 in the Snow Hill case.
Investigator Robert Risi said Wal-Mart Company, as of the first of the year, confirmed $900,000 in losses from the scheme. Risi said he thinks that when all is said and done, the losses could be more than $2 million for the company.
Risi said the pair obtained other people’s debit card information through the use of a skimmer.
Captain Scott Scherer said a skimmer is a small device that records account numbers, pin numbers and other information that can be put on a credit or debit card’s magnetic strip. When the card is forged, the information on the magnetic strip does not match the information on the front.
Scherer said as an example, someone could give a restaurant waiter $10,000 to swipe each card through a skimmer for one night. After this one night, whoever wanted the information would have access to many people’s cards.
Risi said the pair would use the cards to purchase electronic equipment from Wal-Mart, from flat screen televisions to gaming systems, and then sell the products on the Internet.
Over a two-day period, the pair spent $39,000 in the Herkimer and Rome Wal-Marts.
Other police agencies across the northeast contacted Herkimer Police to report open cases, which included the Secret Service of the Albany office, Westchester County Police from Maryland, Kenmore Police from New Jersey, Ulster Police, Saratoga County Sheriff’s office, Fulton County Sheriff’s office and Oneida County Sheriff’s office.
So far, Risi said, there has only been one complaint about a stolen card number related to the case, from a woman in Louisiana.
“We haven’t seen this to this magnitude in Herkimer County,” said Risi.