Just in time for the holidays, our latest look at why we can all be grateful we didn't pursue a career in credit card crime…
Weary credit card career criminal gives up
ABC News recently had a report about Jeffrey Hawkins, 49, who last month was caught by police for trespassing at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The police were presumably stunned, however, when Hawkins took the opportunity to volunteer to the police that he had done more than just trespass.
He told police that he was homeless, and that for the last two decades he had been memorizing credit card numbers and using them to stay in hotels across the country.
This is similar to another story we wrote about earlier this year, that of a guy named David Price, who had kind of a similar routine, in that he made it a habit of staying at hotels by finding people who were checking out of their rooms. He would sneak into the room, call the front desk and tell them that he wanted to extend his visit, and it would be extended, on his victim's credit cards.
But Price only did that for a few years. That's nothing compared to Hawkins who, as noted, has been staying in hotels for free for around twenty years. Evidently, from what he told the authorities, he has a perfect recall memory. He would hear customers at the front desk recite their credit card number and expiration date, and he would remember that and then write it down.
I'd love to think that the power of Walt Disney is so strong that Hawkins, once he was caught, suddenly wanted to be a good citizen and renounce his ways, but apparently over the last 20 years, he stayed at Disney hotels 26 times in recent years, so it wasn't that. He told police he was just sick of running… even if apparently nobody was actually chasing him.
Breaking the law for your true love
The Patch.com web site for White Plains, New York, has a little item about a 24-year-old man who was caught using a fake gift card with a very real credit card account number attached to it.
He was buying flowers.
I know nothing more about this story. But let's assume he was buying them for someone he liked because it gives me a chance to play Dear Abby for a moment and offer all of our single readers a little unsolicited dating advice: Yes, it is kind of impressive to have met someone that cares enough about you to break the law to get you flowers, but that's not someone you really want to be in a relationship with. After all, if Mr. Right is stealing money to buy you tulips or daisies, what's next? Sneaking into the rear entrance of the movie theater to catch a Friday night flick? Taking your future kids to family restaurants and slipping out before the bill comes? Not much of a future with a guy like that, I'd say.
How not to rob a store
And speaking of advice, I always hate to give helpful suggestions to criminals out there, but here's a tip: (Granted, I have never robbed a store, so I may be way off base.) I'm thinking that if you're going to rob a convenience store -- let's say, for the sake of argument, a Speedway gas station at 2 a.m, in Muskegon, Michigan -- it would be a wise move not to try and buy something earlier in the worker's shift. That worker might recognize you later, when you come and rob them.
Timothy Parker, 47, allegedly did something along those lines, according the web site Michigan Live. He tried to use a credit card shortly before robbing it, and making himself even more memorable, the credit card was declined. Parker then later came in and suggested he had a gun under his shirt. The female clerk wasn't convinced and called 911 while her would-be robber fled. The employee talked about the incident with the police, remembered the declined credit card incident, gave the authorities the information, and they were easily able to track Parker down.