(SALEM) - A Cuban couple were arrested last week for using stolen credit cards to purchase and reload Walmart gift cards, stealing thousands of dollars over the past few months.
A Walmart employee matched the fraudulent gift cards to video of the transactions and alerted the Salem Police Department on January 25.
Police arrested Greisis De La Paz Ochoa and Miguel Martinez Gonzales.
Court records say they hit Walmart stores up and down I-65 from Salem to Corydon, Seymour to Scottsburg, and the Bashford Manor store in Louisville.
U.S. Secret Service agents have 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.
WSLM Radio (wslmradio.com) reports that SPD Major Detective Scott Ratts says that Gonzales committed the crimes "because he has kids in Cuba and needed the money."
Police believe there was a team stealing anywhere from four thousand to seven thousand dollars a day.
According to a probable cause affidavit, on or about December 30, 2017, Alisha Mills, general manager at the Salem Walmart, contacted the Salem Police Department to report that two Hispanic males and one Hispanic female used a stolen credit card to reload a Walmart gift cards through the Walmart self check-out.
Mills advised that she could determine that the credit card number used to purchase the Walmart gift cards was stolen because the numbers had been flagged by the credit card companies as belonging to stolen cards and had received reports from victims stating their credit cards had been fraudulently used at the Salem Walmart.
Mills was able to run the Walmart gift card numbers loaded at the Salem Walmart and determined using the Walmart electronic inventory system that the same cards had been reloaded at other Walmart stores including Corydon, Seymour, Scottsburg, and the Walmart at the Bashford Manor Mall in Kentucky.
At the Bashford Manor Walmart, the gift cards were used to transfer money to a pre-paid credit card.
Mills advised that Walmart security video confirmed that the same individuals returned to the Salem Walmart several times over the following few weeks conducting the same activity.
On or about January 25, a Hispanic male and a Hispanic female entered the Walmart store, and employees recognized the male and female as individuals who had previously been in the store using stolen credit card data to purchase gift cards.
Walmart security employees observed the female use stolen credit card data to purchase gift cards.
Reports run later indicate that the Hispanic female used stolen credit card information to purchase $5.09 in physical items and transferred $60 to a gift card.
The Hispanic female also ran an additional card number, but it was declined, so no purchase or transfer was made.
Cameras indicated she then left the store and waited in a silver Lincoln sedan.
The male proceeded to use stolen credit card data to make purchases and monetary transfers. The Hispanic male did the following:
- Charged $63.21 to a credit card number belonging to Christopher Welch. This charge involved the purchase of a t-shirt for $3.21 and $60 loaded to a Walmart gift card.
- Charged $61.34 to a credit card number belonging to Kevin McGill. $1.34 for a lemonade, and a $60 monetary transfer to a Walmart gift card. (fraud)
- Made eight attempted transactions on credit card numbers that were declined.
During this activity, Walmart employees contacted the Salem Police Department.
Ratts says he approached the Hispanic male and placed him into custody. At that time, he observed the silver Lincoln sedan speed away.
Salem Police Department Detective, Ronnie Mays, later stopped the silver Lincoln sedan on State Road 56 in Salem.
In a search incident to the arrest of the male, Ratts retrieved his wallet, which was full of Walmart gift cards.
The Hispanic male was advised of his rights through an interpreter and arrested.
The Hispanic Male had multiple identification cards with what appeared to be his photograph, but with different names.
The Hispanic female presented an identification card she claimed was hers.
The photograph on the identification card does not appear to be the Hispanic female we have in custody.
All of which gives me probable cause to believe that the Hispanic female has committed one count of fraud, as level 6 felony, one count of attempted fraud, as Level 6 felony, and one count of corrupt business influence, a Level 5 Felony.
The Hispanic male committed eight counts of attempted fraud, a level six felony, one count of fraud as a Level 6 Felony, and one count of corrupt business influence, a Level 5 Felony.
Salem Police ran the electronic fingerprint check of both subjects and the male came back a positive ID to Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez from Cuba and the female was identified as Greisis De La Paz-Ocha from Cuba.
A search of the vehicle she was driving revealed several cloned credit cards and several Walmart gift cards.