Feds Crack Prepaid Credit Card Ring

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A one-time gang member was sentenced to jail Monday for his role in fraudulent card ring that stole as much as $2 million from 37 credit union and banks in late 2007 and early 2008.

Donald Taylor, 39, also known as “woochie,” confessed to hiring “runners” to take depleted prepaid cards into credit unions and banks, then convince the tellers to call toll-free numbers purporting to be card services reps authorizing additions to the worthless cards of as much as $9,500. The suspects would then instruct the teller which buttons to press on the card terminal in order to approve the transactions.

The ring, operating out of California, sent runners to more than 20 states including California, Arizona, Montana, Indiana, New Mexico and Texas, hitting big and small institutions, among them Indiana’s Teachers CU and Big Sky FCU in Montana, according to authorities. Taylor operated out of Texas.

After making off with the enhanced cards, the runners would contact “handlers” who would pay 50% of the proceeds to organizers of the ring and deposit the rest their own accounts, authorities said.

Taylor, who earned about $450,000 for his role, was sentenced Monday to five years in prison, one of seven defendants convicted so far.

The scheme worked like this. A runner would go into a credit union or bank and try to get a cash advance on the cards for as much as $11,000. When the transaction was declined the runner was to call a pre-arranged phone number which was purported to be the call center for the person’s card. The person would then walk the teller through the necessary steps to make the transaction.

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