Lowndes County investigators are now using technology to identify victims of identity theft. Deputies found 150 gift cards during a traffic stop. Those cards were part of an identity fraud scam.
"They found a small quantity of cocaine, but they also found in excess of 150 debit cards," said Lt. Stryde Jones.
All those cards raised suspicions about 28 year old Yordanis Ramos-Luencia and 23 year old Pedro Garcis-Feyt. Detectives checked them and discovered each card had been re-encoded with stolen credit card information.
A problem the sheriff's office says is becoming more common. "We're starting to see a lot of drug trafficking organizations do this type thing. Somebody unsuspecting would look at it and just think it's a gift card of some sort and wouldn't pay it really any attention," Jones said.
The Sheriff's Office has in-house technology and a detective working to crack the codes on each individual card.
Once the detective swipes the card, they can see all the information stored on it, then they have to contact the banks to tell the victims. "Most likely the majority of these victims don't yet realize that their data has been stolen," Jones said.
From finding out who the victim is to dealing with the banks, it can take several days for deputies to notify the victim on just one card.
With more than 150 victims across multiple states, it can be a tedious task. But law enforcement says it's worth it, to let them know their information has been stolen before it can be used.
"It's important enough to us to make sure that we notify these victims that they've been affected by this," Jones said.
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