Police say Salem, Indiana, Walmart employee foiled massive credit card scheme
It's being called "a credit card scheme on steroids" -- an elaborate scam spanning two states and countless victims, with thousands of dollars stolen each day.
SALEM, Ind. (WDRB) -- Police say they've foiled an elaborate credit and debit card scam scam spanning two states and countless victims, with thousands of dollars stolen each day.
And it was a Walmart employee who helped them crack the case.
In Salem, Walmart is a hotspot.
The new store -- what some are calling "probably the biggest thing to happen in Salem, Indiana, ever" -- opened to the town of 6,000 in November, and soon after, police say unwanted guests brought a new scam through the front door.
"They were walking in with stacks and stacks of these gift cards, and just going through and seeing which ones were flagged," explained Tim Miller, assistant chief of the Salem Police Department.
Police say the suspects would steal debit or credit card information from people who never saw it coming -- through skimmers. They would then clone that account into the strip on the back of a Walmart gift card. After that, they'd use the Walmart card to purchase a prepaid debit card, walking out with a card that was just as good as cash.
"It's elaborate, very elaborate," Miller said. "This is not something you just do on your home computer."
In fact, it's so elaborate, Miller says he's never seen anything like it in his career.
A Walmart employee matched the fraudulent gift cards to video of the transactions. Now, Cuban nationals Greisis De La Paz Ochoa and Miguel Martinez Gonzales are behind bars. Court records say they hit Walmarts up and down I-65 from Salem to Corydon, Seymour to Scottsburg, and the Bashford Manor store in Louisville.
Miller said the U.S. Secret Service joined the investigation, believing this same team may be tied to skimmers and stolen credit and debit card information throughout the region, including those recently reported in Greenville and Henryville.
Court records say that, when questioned, Gonzales said he did it "because he has kids in Cuba and needed the money."
"I believe they're definitely part of a larger team," Miller said. The team was stealing anywhere from four thousand to seven thousand dollars a day according to Miller. They're charged with fraud.
Police still need the public's help finding and identifying the man in the image included with this story. They say he may be the ringleader.
And Miller says he has a warning for anyone who sees this report.
"They need to check their bank account and see if there are any unauthorized uses," he said.
If you see anything wrong with your account contact your local law enforcement.
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