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Crawford couple's debit card stolen while vacationing

Man arrested for making fraudulent charges

December 03, 2008
Quick action by a Crawford County Deputy Sheriff on Saturday landed a Gatlinburg, Tenn., man in jail on several charges of credit card fraud.

Around noon on Saturday, Shawn Scott received a call from a couple who live west of English about unauthorized charges on their bank statement.

The couple told Scott that they had visited Gatlinburg on Halloween and had stayed in a hotel. When they checked out of the hotel, they used a debit/credit card to pay for their hotel room.

"When they got their bank statement, there were three large charges on the statement, and they didn't have any idea what they were," Scott said. "I contacted the three companies who billed their account. The first company gave me a name and address of the person who made the purchase and a list of what was purchased. The second company provided me with the same address. The third company, Dell, indicated that a laptop was purchased."

Scott then contacted the hotel in Gatlinburg where the card was used and asked if it had an employee named John. When he was told that there were two employees named John, Scott gave them the address and the hotel manager was able to confirm which employee lived at that address.

"The address proved to be a room at one of those pay-by-the-week hotels," Scott said. "When I contacted that hotel and inquired who lived in that room, I was given the name John Jones. When I asked if John Young could be the same person, they said he gets mail by that name at times. They also indicated that he had been using a new computer."

Scott then contacted a detective with the police department in Gatlinburg, who went to the address and interviewed the man. During the interview, the man admitted using the card belonging to the Indiana couple, he added. The man was immediately arrested and transported to the local jail and charged with credit card fraud, a felony, Scott said, adding other expensive items were also found in the room and will be investigated.

"The couple didn't do anything wrong, nothing out of the ordinary," Scott said. "They used their card at a hotel. When they were checking out, they were asked if they wanted the hotel charges put on their card and they said yes. The person who was arrested worked the night shift at the hotel and did the nightly audit, which gave him access to the card number."

When using a credit/debit card, the charges come out of a person's bank account immediately, Scott said.

"The English couple were lucky," he added. "They had enough money in their account to cover the charges. Otherwise, they would have had overdraft charges added to their statement, as well. They will be reimbursed by their bank. For these types of expenses, it's usually better to use a credit card instead of a credit/debit card. It's just a safer practice."

Only three hours after the couple contacted Scott about the case, the man in Tennessee was arrested.

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