A retailer’s alert staff helped put a Rincon woman in jail on fraud, forgery and identity theft charges.
The Rincon Police Department arrested Bettye Medders, 58, for making several purchases over the Internet with stolen credit card information, according to Rincon Police Chief Phillip Scholl.
“She was being supplied the information from an unknown source on the Internet,” Scholl said.
According to investigators, Medders used information from multiple credit card accounts, belonging to people from as far away as California. She bought laptop computers, flat-screen televisions, jewelry, furniture and other items with high re-sale value, Scholl said.
Some of the items were scheduled to be delivered out of the country, he added, and were believed to be going to Ghana, Africa — where Medders’ source for the credit card information is believed to be.
The merchandise Medders bought from online retailers was often delivered to the chains’ stores in and around Effingham for her to pick up, according to Scholl. The break in the case came when the Rincon Walmart’s loss-prevention department called police.
“They said, ‘We just have a hunch that this credit card is stolen,’” Scholl said. “It was fortuitous that everything fell out the way it did because she was actually in custody within 45 minutes of the crime being reported.”
Police found the fraudulently-bought items in Medders’ Rincon home, according to investigators. That included four laptop computers that were in plain sight when she opened the door, Scholl said.
“They each had UPS labels, ready to go to New York,” Scholl said. “They were going to an exchange at JFK (Airport), where they would be picked up to go to another address.”
Medders was charged with two counts each of forgery (first- and second-degree), financial transaction card fraud, financial identity theft, financial identity fraud and theft by deception. All are felonies.
The Rincon Police Department continues to investigate the case. Medders is awaiting arraignment and could face additional charges if further evidence is found of fraudulent purchases, Scholl said.
With the holidays nearing, the police department encourages everyone to keep a keen eye on their credit card, debit card and credit report transactions. The Rincon Police Department typically sees an increase in fraud reports during the holiday season, according to Scholl.
“Now is the easiest time for it to happen,” he said.
Holiday shoppers might not pay close attention to their bank statements while they’re busy spending “a hundred bucks here, a hundred bucks there” on Christmas presents, he said. Fraudulent expenditures could go unnoticed for days or even weeks.
“Maybe a month later,” Scholl said, “you’re balancing your checkbook and you go, ‘Wait a minute — I didn’t buy anything at Best Buy or Circuit City.’”