Pair arrested after targeting South Georgia with fake credit cards

"Buying" nearly $3,000 worth of goods with fake credit cards just landed two people in Lee County jail. / Mary Green

Nearly $3,000 worth of goods, including a $345 purse, sounds like a good stock for Christmas shopping.

But it's what landed two people on the naughty list this year.

"We got a call here to Fred's in Leesburg in reference to subjects that had committed a theft the day before using fraudulent credit cards. Luckily, he came back the next day, trying to do it again," said Lt. Hank Vick of the Leesburg Police Department. "At the same time, a female that was also with him the day before was in the store. She was taken into custody."

Now 26-year-old Daniel Rodriguez and 25-year-old Sable Stafford, both from New York, are sitting in the Lee County jail, left with only a lump of coal and eight combined counts of forgery of financial transaction cards. That's because they didn't steal the cards they used.

"They're taking blank credit cards and using a machine, actually printing out the account numbers of legitimate accounts, victims out there," Lt. Vick said, adding that some of the accounts were from as far away as Spain.

Police believe the thieves made other stops across South and Middle Georgia, including Albany, Warner Robins, Cuthbert and Dawson, and stole from a few different types of stores, including Fred's, Dillard's and Belk. They also believe these two people are part of a much larger group that might have hit even more stores.

But Lt. Vick said the key to keeping yourself from becoming the next victim isn't by avoiding these places. It's by being smarter than the people targeting them, especially during the holidays.

"Keep track of your account," he said. "If you see anything odd, go ahead and report it, shut down the card."

He added that businesses need to be just as proactive, especially when checking the cards used as payment.

"They're covering over the security code because these cards hadn't been activated…and taping it across. So when you come across this, check the back, and you can feel it, where they just taped over the card," he said.

As for people thinking about taking the easy way out of a long Christmas list, Lt. Vick said, don't be a Grinch, because someone is always watching.

"In this day and age, even some of your smaller stores, we've got excellent camera systems," he said.

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