A million dollar credit card scam has been uncovered in Ohio. This is according to Bath Township, Ohio police, who uncovered the scam while investigating a theft from a local Lowe’s store. The culprit? A man in a prison cell in a different state.
Dimorio McDowell was already an inmate at the largest federal prison in the United States, Fort Dix Federal Prison in New Jersey. He was there for – you guessed it – credit card fraud. While in prison, it appears he decided to skip the routine jobs that inmates take – making license plates, etc. – and go the route of self employment.
According to police, McDowell spent up to 17 hours a day with his only tool being a cell phone. He called directory assistance for the phone numbers of people who shared the names of his friends who were not in prison. Then, he called these people and posed as an employee of a local cable or utility provider in order to obtain personal information, such as their social security numbers. After that, McDowell called credit card companies in order to use this bit of information to gain more information about his potential victims. Finally, when all of the information he needed was available, he would contact the credit card companies again to add his friends as approved users or swap their identities with those of his victims.
After his prep work was done, McDowell’s friends went on shopping sprees with their illegal credit cards. They then sold the items at discounts to other individuals. Of course, this was all profit to them, as they weren’t actually going to pay the bills. Oh, and by the way, if you met someone at a Cleveland gas station within the past few years to buy a super-cheap flat panel TV or a refrigerator, you probably bought a stolen item – but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out!
One of McDowell’s friends on the outside, Jay Williams, had an interesting situation that ended in his arrest. He arrived at Lowe’s with a credit card that had a $20,000 limit. Of course, the criminal genius spent $14,000 on a variety of household items and, alertly (of perhaps foolishly) grabbed 8 $500 gift cards before checking out. Surprisingly, this did not seem to bother the clerk and the checkout went through smoothly.
Despite getting out of the store with the effectively stolen goods, Williams and his accomplice, Andre Reese, did not have enough room in the truck they rented to handle all of the merchandise. They told store clerks that they’d be back the following day to retrieve them. On the following day, someone at Lowe’s realized that something was amiss and alerted the police. After the police learned of the situation, they were waiting for Williams and Reese when the arrived the next day, leading to their arrests. This was just one case of many, as McDowell had a whole crew shopping with fraudulent credit cards.
For his part as the ring leader of this crime, McDowell received an additional 14 years in prison. Interestingly, while in Ohio to be tried for this crime, he allegedly continued his credit card scam. He also reportedly posed as a member of the US Marshall’s Service and ordered a transfer of himself to another institution. In any event, this all does not bode well for confidence in the privacy of information, as an inmate was able to pull off a large scam from his own cell!