Second person busted in case of stolen credit card data

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH
  • Star Tribune
  • February 17, 2010 - 11:16 PM

A Cottage Grove woman turned herself in several days after police circulated surveillance photos of her as a suspect in a case of credit-card "skimming" that netted victims in the Twin Cities area and beyond.

The woman, 21, gave herself up Tuesday afternoon at West St. Paul police headquarters, said Lt. Brian Sturgeon.

Her alleged accomplice, Noah A. Carlson, 28, of Coon Rapids, was arrested last week and charged with using an electronic device to swipe credit card numbers from patrons at the T.G.I. Friday's restaurant in Coon Rapids, where he worked as a waiter.

The woman remains jailed pending charges. Neither she nor Carlson are saying anything to police, Sturgeon said.

Police believe the woman and Carlson are responsible for a rash of purchases that totaled tens of thousands of dollars at retail outlets in Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Washington, Stearns, Anoka and Wright counties.

Asked for the number of victims, Sturgeon said, "Right now, for sure 15 or 16, and I can almost assure you there is more out there."

As for a dollar total of items fraudulently purchased, the lieutenant said it stands at "$30,000, if not more. And it's increasing."

Purchases would be made a few hundred dollars at a time, with one victim suffering about $12,000 in bogus charges, Sturgeon said.

According to the charges against Carlson:

Carlson served five people in January who later reported having their credit card information used to buy at least $14,000 in goods around the metro area. West St. Paul police found that the restaurant was the only common place where the five victims had used their credit cards.

Investigators believe the victims' cards were scanned with a handheld device, capturing their information. Such a handheld scanner used at the restaurant disappeared in January, the complaint said.

Last week, West St. Paul police asked for help from the public in finding the woman. Along with information about the case, police distributed several high-quality store surveillance images to media outlets.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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