The FBI last week announced the arrest of eight men, charged with fraudulently using other consumers' credit card information to buy as much as a million dollars in merchandise from stores in Northeast Ohio - including Home Depot, Staples, Best Buy, Lowe's, Macy's, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, hhgregg and Sears.
In the scheme, the FBI reports that Dimorio McDowell, an inmate at a federal prison in Fort Dix, N.J., used a cell phone to access and alter existing credit card accounts. He reportedly added new users to other accounts, then those new users would make big-ticket purchases at the stores.
McDowell was persistent in calling customer service departments until he was successful in gaining access to someone else's personal or business account, according to the FBI. He then would modify the account and make one of new users - men in the Cleveland area - authorized users.
At times he would use public information, along with guesswork, to eventually gain access to the credit card accounts, according to the FBI.
A large amount of property purchased under the scheme was seized from a house and garage in Cleveland last week. There was so much stored there that several trucks were needed to haul it away, reported WKYC-TV in Cleveland.
Two men in that home were arrested, according to the FBI. One was "in arm's length of a handgun," and the other was "sleeping with a shotgun."
Federal agents say McDowell, from his jail cell, would take orders for merchandise such as plasma TVs, lawn tractors and construction materials, and have his Cleveland connections fill the orders and distribute the goods.
All the men arrested are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The names of the other men were not immediately available.