VACAVILLE, Calif. (KTVU) - Vacaville police have discovered even more fake credit cards from a bust they made earlier this week, bringing the total to 170. And unraveling the case isn't simple because each fraudulent card might have as many as three victims.
"We see a case like this about once a week, but never this many cards," Detective Nicole King told KTVU as she and colleague Detective Lisa Sampson spread the cards over a table at police headquarters.
Seven different names appear on the various cards, but none belong to 24 year old Jordan Knighten of San Francisco, who was apprehended with cards in his pockets, his backpack, and scattered inside the car he'd rented with one of the fraudulent cards.
Knighten was apprehended at the Vacaville Premium Outlets Monday afternoon.
"He has a prior history," acknowledged Det. Sampson, noting that the card-making devices, an embosser and encoder, are easily purchased online.
"You can make this many cards in an hour," observed Det. King.
Police say Knighten was loaded with shopping bags, full of clothing and gift cards, when he was caught.
Receipts total more than $2,000 in purchases, with merchandise from the Nike and Ralph Lauren stores.
"If the card goes through, and the transaction is authorized, it's easy for the person to get away with it, " Sgt. Steve Carey, in charge of investigations, told KTVU.
Knighten might still be shopping, but for some clerks at the Tommy Hilfiger store, who recognized him from his previous visits to their Milpitas outlet.
They alerted mall security, who tailed Knighten until police arrived.
Knighten ran, and was tased after a short foot chase, then arrested.
"We know he might be the shopper. The one that gets the cards, goes out and does the purchases," said
Sgt.Carey, explaining why Knighten probably isn't acting alone.
"Someone else might turn around and get the refunds with the stuff that he purchased."
Knighten also had about $600 dollars in cash and driver's licenses that were not his.
Now, the two detectives are sifting through the cards, trying to determine the nature of the identity theft.
"Just because a card has a Visa on the front, it might not be a Visa, " observed Det. King.
Account numbers on the cards are real, but the number may not match the name on front, or another account number encoded on the back magnetic strip.
It will take hours, delving into the details with the banks, to figure out who has been ripped off, and by how much.
"It could have started with stealing bank account numbers, because how are they getting these numbers to encode on the strips?" posed King, "and they're getting bank card numbers, credit cards numbers, that also could have come from a mailbox."
The fakes are so convincing, some look like they have the new chip technology, but it's merely a sticker on the front.
Jordan Knighten turns 25 on Friday, but because he is on probation, with prior offenses in San Francisco, Santa Clara, and San Bernardino Counties, he will spend his birthday in jail.