A Warren County grand jury has accused three Georgia residents of engaging in a conspiracy to use cloned debit and credit cards to make fraudulent purchases.
Jazeene Dontay Simpson, 21, Ebony Renee Turner, 24 and Riquardo Jason Hawkins, also known as Riguardo Hawkins, 32, were indicted Wednesday on numerous criminal counts, the most serious of which charges them with engaging in organized crime.
Simpson and Turner are also charged with trafficking in financial information, theft of identity, second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and falsely making or embossing a debit/credit card. Hawkins is charged with being complicit in trafficking financial information, identity theft, second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and falsely making a credit/debit card.
Simpson is accused of receiving goods or services obtained by fraud valued at $500 or more but less than $10,000 within a six-month period, while Turner and Hawkins are accused of being complicit in the same offense. Additionally, Simpson is charged in the indictment with tampering with physical evidence and giving a peace officer a false name or address.
Police arrested Simpson and Turner on Dec. 18 near Sam's Club on Ken Bale Boulevard.
A Bowling Green Police Department report said the asset protection manager for Sam's Club received information from the Sam's Club in Lexington that several stolen credit card numbers were used to purchase a large number of gift cards on Dec. 17 and early Dec. 18.
The information received in Bowling Green included pictures of four of the people suspected of making the purchases. After receiving the pictures, the asset protection manager spotted two of the women pictured completing transactions at the self-checkout registers, which led to BGPD being notified.
Witnesses saw one of the women, later identified as Simpson, running from the store and into Stockdale's.
When confronted by police, Simpson initially gave her name as "Courtney Mayes."
"Simpson granted consent to search her purse and a large number of gift cards still in the package and several loose ones were located in her purse," Officer Rick Bessette wrote in his report.
After being read her rights, Simpson declined to talk to police.
Officer Dale Barbiea found Turner walking toward Stockdale's and saw a large number of gift cards in her purse. Turner was seen on video surveillance using another person's Sam's Club membership card to complete transactions, loading money onto gift cards.
"Upon reviewing the transactions, it was determined the individuals used at least three individual membership cards that did not belong to them to purchase $3,800 in gift cards," the report said. "During the purchases they attempted to use several cards that were declined before the transactions went through."
Police suspected some of the cards to have stolen credit card information coded on them. Two people had driven away from Sam's Club prior to police arriving, and cellphones belonging to Simpson and Turner rang several times and gave alerts while the women were detained, according to the report.
City police contacted law enforcement in Lexington investigating the reported fraud there.
"Upon contacting Lexington detectives, it was determined that membership cards used in the transactions here in Bowling Green were also used to make some of the purchases in Lexington earlier this date," Bessette wrote.
The Lexington Police Department had tracked down a number of people whose cards had been used to make purchases of around $20,000 gift cards at the Sam's Club there, according to the report.
Simpson and Turner were taken to BGPD headquarters. Turner was interviewed, but Simpson maintained she did not wish to talk and asked to use the restroom.
"Detective (Tim) Buss heard the toilet flushing many times and when (Simpson) came out, the toilet was overflowing," the report stated. "Detective Buss was able to retrieve an additional card from the toilet, but it's believed several more were stuck in the toilet."
Simpson and Turner are in Warren County Regional Jail. Bonds against the two women and Hawkins were set at $10,000 cash.