The story behind the arrest of the credit card fraud ring

By Bob Hallmark - bio | email

LONGVIEW,TX (KLTV)- East Texas police are now revealing just how a massive credit card theft ring was blown wide open. One of the alleged leaders of the credit ring, Nathan Michael, is still on the loose tonight. He's believed to be in Kaufman or Dallas County. He and three others, including his brother, are all under indictment for stealing credit card numbers across East Texas, racking up $100,000 worth of charges in Tyler alone.

Local and federal authorities said the thefts started from credit and debit cards swiped at the Chicken Express restaurant on old Jacksonville highway in Tyler. One of the suspects was an employee at that restaurant.

And it turns out, it took a quick thinking video arcade manager in Longview to set their arrests in motion. On November 9, a man identified as 24-year old Christopher Michael used a credit card to withdraw more than $100 in quarters from the Longview mall arcade.

"It doesn't take a whole lot to catch someone who just looks a little bit suspicious," arcade manager Thomas Farnham said.

And police said Christopher was not playing games. They said he was cashing in on someone else's credit card.

"Mr. Michael had two outstanding warrants. He had a U.S. Marshal detainer warrant as well as an assault warrant," said Longview police officer Christie Bryan.

"Mr. Michael actually caught my eye right away. He approached my credit card changer and pulled out a credit card. He selected the maximum amount on the machine, which is $40," said Farnham.

Police said he hit the machine three times, getting $120 in quarters, and that was enough for Farnham.

"Something's not right, and the first thing that came to my mind was credit card fraud. When he started to leave, I approached him and said, 'hey, guy, where you going with all those quarters'," Farnham said.

Michael returned the quarters and left. Then Farnham noticed something.

"I discovered that he used two cards to make the $120 purchase," he said.

Farnham tracked Michael down , still inside the mall, and convinced him to come back to the arcade. Farham said he kept Michael busy until police arrived. And Once Michael was arrested, the dominos began to fall. Police said he eventually gave up his fellow suspected theft ring members.

"He gave up the locations of all but I believe his brother," Farnham said.

"Its always good to catch at least one, then hopefully we catch some more. That was a big help. It helped us a lot in this case," Bryan said.

And it might not have happened had it not been for a very alert man at the arcade.

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