Four suspects were arrested by the Colonie Police Department after a phone call from a woman in California said there were fraudulent purchases made on her credit card in Latham.
On the evening of Jan. 24, the Colonie Police Department received a call from Sherman Oaks, California where a woman said she had checked her bank account online and saw transactions were made at a Red Robin and at La Quinta Inn, both of which are on Loudon Road.
Police arrested suspects Patrick T. Ward, 21, of Freeport, Resean G. Blount, 25, of Queens Village, Elousise Hall, 22, of Hempstead and Deshanae A. Jones, 20, of Wyandanch whom were staying in Room 209 at La Quinta Inn.
The suspects allegedly were using gift cards as credit cards by swiping them through a credit card scanning device able to retrieve card information and placing the gift cards. Police said numerous gift cards were found in the hotel room.
Lt. Robert Winn said they do not currently know how the suspects were able to get a hold of the victim's credit card information.
Also found in the room were a laptop and camera purchased with the gift cards. Winn said the suspects used the gift cards to purchase stays at several different hotels. He added that the department is currently following up with other hotels the suspects allegedly stayed in.
With all of the receipts recovered, Winn said police were able to determine the suspects had been in the area for at least one week. The United States Secret Service is assisting in the investigation as they have software that can retrieve some of the credit card data.
"It will probably be a several week process," he said.
Police expect to file further charges on the defendants as the investigation progresses. Winn said they hope to identify several victims to find a common source as to how the suspects were able to obtain the credit card information.
Blount and Ward were charged with forgery in the second degree, a felony, and all four suspects were charged with criminal possession of a forgery device, a felony. Ward was additionally charged with false personation, which is a misdemeanor.
All four were arraigned in Colonie Town Court and were remanded to Albany County Correctional Facility without bail. The defendants are set to appear in Colonie Town Court on Wednesday, Jan. 26 at 6 p.m.
Colonie Police are asking for anyone else who believes they are a victim of this scam to contact the department at 518-783-2744.