JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville police arrested six people accused in a bank fraud ring. The bust serves as a good reminder for people to closely monitor their bank statement statements.
The six were arrested on various charges, including bank fraud, credit card fraud ID theft and use of a scanning device.
Police said the ringleader, 35-year-old Andre Louisseize, was making his own bank cards that were linked to real accounts.
According to arrest reports, Louisseize learned last year how to use something called an encoder to create counterfeit bank cards. The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said he told police that he obtained bank card numbers through websites, paying for them with bitcoin, and then created the bogus cards.
Police said they recovered the encoder, which is illegal to own, Monday night when they arrested him and five others, who Louisseize said he gave cards, at the Homewood Suites on Kings Avenue in San Marco.
According to the Sheriff's Office, the suspects were paying for drinks with the phony cards, and the bartender saw lots of cards being taken out, became suspicious and called police.
Police said the others arrested were Kimiyah Campbell, Quinton Cooper, Cassandra Ezell, Dae Louisseize and Jacqueline Washington.
The Secret Service is in on the investigation.
Attorney Mitch Stone said he is familiar with how this type of scheme works because he has represented clients on both sides of fraud cases.
"It is a form of identity theft, so ultimately what happens is it morphs into some type of bank fraud. It's a pretty serious crime," Stone said. "Most people don't realize that the magnetic strip on the back of a credit card or other ID like a license -- it's really just numbers that then access something that provides detail."
He said those numbers are what's encoded and linked to account.
"In this day and age, being able to look at your account online, I highly recommend looking at your accounts online on a regular basis," Stone said. "I represent people who, unfortunately, have been doing things that they should've done and have created havoc in people's financial lives."
Stone also stressed the importance of regularly checking bank statements. For example, some financial institutions allow you to sign up to get an email every day of your statement balance or get alerts if more than a set amount comes out of your account.