ETOWAH COUNTY – Authorities announced the arrest of one woman connected to a multi-state debit card skimming operation. There is an arrest warrant for an additional suspect.
Alabama Attorney General Steven T. Marshall says the operation stole more than $43,000 from debit card holders in Alabama and three other states. His office says seven banks and more than 300 individuals in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi are believed to have been victimized by the skimmers.
The investigation involved Southside Police, Etowah County authorities as well as the Secret Service.
Janique Shontie Crafter, age 29 of Macon, Georgia was taken into custody in Bibb County, Georgia where she was charged with financial transaction card fraud forgery and financial identity fraud. Crafter awaits extradition to Alabama where she faces charges for Theft of Property First Degree and Identity Theft in Etowah County.
Authorities in Alabama and Georgia identified the second suspect as James Edward Faulks, II, age 37, of Macon, Georgia. Faulks, who is also wanted in Georgia on previous warrants, remains at-large at this time.
The Alabama Attorney General’s Office says it began investigating a possible gas pump skimmer on April 13. After securing surveillance video, agents were able to obtain the license plate number of the suspects and tracked them to Macon, Georgia.
“The debit card information that was skimmed in Southside was used to make illegal purchases in Vestavia Hills, Hoover, Pelham, Moody, Leeds and Oxford in Alabama, and Atlanta, LaGrange and Macon in Georgia,” said Attorney General Marshall. “Had it not been for the vigilance of a local financial institution in discovering these suspicious transactions and in notifying law enforcement, this criminal activity might still be occurring. Debit card skimming is a serious problem, and the most effective way to turn the tables on crooks is to shut them down early. I’m proud to say teamwork between a local business and law enforcement made a positive difference in this case. In particular, I would like to commend Family Savings Credit Union in Gadsden for its assistance in this case.”
Investigators and agents are working with the United States Secret Service to develop possible federal charges. At this time, the case in Alabama will be prosecuted by the Etowah County District Attorney’s Office.
Officials warn the public to be vigilant while using debit and credit cards at gas stations. When buying gas, it is best to pay the service station attendant rather than at the pump.