Federal and Shelby County authorities have arrested a Hickory Hill man in what federal agents are calling a counterfeit gift card ring that stretches from California to Memphis.
34-year-old Ronald Lewis, whose last known address is 5983 Raintree in Memphis, is free on a $20,000 bond after his arrest on charges of identity theft, forgery and the fraudulent use of a credit card.
Dee Bowling, detective with the Shelby County Sheriff's ALERT Squad (Area Law Enforcement and Retailers Team), says Lewis, a former restaurant worker, stole at least one customer's debit account number.
"...and then he's either manufactured or re-fabricated some sort of credit card with the victim's personal information on to it," says Bowling.
According to one of the vendors where Lewis allegedly swiped the card, it was a VISA gift card. That's by design -- because VISA gift cards do not require the user to show identification.
"It's pretty slick, the way they did that," says Errol Dunn, owner and operator of Polo Wine & Liquor on Winchester. The liquor store is one of the places where Lewis was caught on the Action News 5 Scam Cam. He used the card there to buy $275 worth of liquor, according to Bowling.
The Scam Cam also captured Lewis using the card to charge $2,600 worth of electronics at a Southeast Shelby County department store.
Bowling says the Scam Cam footage was instrumental in identifying Lewis. After establishing the California connection, Bowling and Inspector A.J. "Bert" Cranor of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service are investigating what they believe to be more victims -- and more counterfeit gift cards.
Lewis is out on bond, so keep a look-out for him. You can also click here:
That's the web site of the ALERT Squad. At the bottom of the home page, you'll find a link where you can e-mail anonymous tips to ALERT's detectives. All tips will be kept confidential.
You may also call ALERT's hotline at 756-LOSS.