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Our helpful public service annoucement: heavy drinking and credit cards do not mix

Written by Geoff Williams
Posted On: September 19, 2012

Don't try this at home. You know how everyone always says that? Well, if you're ever teaching your kids about the dangers of drinking, print this out and show it to them -- and tell them don't try this at home, at a bar, at the place you work, at your teacher's house…

In our latest monthly look at strange credit card crimes, we're going to look at how alcohol and paying with plastic don't always mix. Especially when it isn't your own plastic.

Blitzed in Miami Beach

David Weber, 53 and homeless in Miami Beach, Florida, recently broke into a car in the parking lot of a bar and stole the occupant's credit card. (Hint for everyone: never a good idea to leave any credit cards, even hidden, in a car.) Apparently deciding to award himself for a theft well done, Weber then ambled into the bar and handed the card to the bartender.

The bartender must have been speechless when he looked at it. It was his own credit card.

The bartender, according to the Associated Press, called the Miami Beach police, and Weber was charged with credit card fraud and theft and taken off to jail. On the bright side, for now, he isn't homeless.

Hung over in Hawaii

In Wailuku, Hawaii, Thomas McGinnis, 57, was recently sentenced to a six-month jail term for buying a round of drinks at a bar on a stolen credit card. According to McGinnis, he found a woman's purse in the bathroom and decided to use her credit card. (OK, but my question is: was he in the woman's bathroom, and if not, what was this woman doing in the men's bathroom? Never mind. I don't know want to know.)

The judge gave McGinnis six months in jail, which might seem like a long time for merely trying to buy a round of drinks for your bar buddies, but it's not as if he has a perfectly clean record. The Maui News reports that McGinnis had 56 arrests before this one and 20 convictions, 10 of them felonies, and many of them involving stolen credit cards. You know, maybe six months isn't enough time.

Drunk Down Under

The Canberra Times -- that's in Australia -- tells the story of Carlo Angelo Malaca, 29, who used his corporate credit card from work more than 60 times to make unauthorized cash withdrawals from ATMs. But don't worry, he spent the $40,000 he took from work wisely. He gave it all the poor and sick children, and… no, of course not. He used the money on alcohol, poker and drugs.

But the first person who would tell you that it was a stupid thing to do is apparently Malaca himself. He told the judge that he was depressed, has paid $5,000 of it back and was able to convince the court that he wants to make amends. He was thus sentenced to weekend jail for the next six months, given probation for two years and ordered to repay the stolen money.

Inebriated in Israel

OK, this one tale is only barely credit card related, but it's too incredible not to share. Ten high school students, all of them 15 years old, broke into the home of a teacher at their school while she was out of the country during the school's summer vacation, according to The Times of Israel, which described what happened next as: "The teenagers reportedly hosted parties in the house during which they consumed alcoholic beverages, charged her credit card for thousands of shekels, abused her dog and defecated in her washing machine."

So, what were the teenagers charging to the teacher's credit card in her house? If you're guessing they were online shopping, getting back to school supplies or some clothes from Land's End, you're close. Well, not really. They were calling telephone sex hotlines.

Apparently, not all of the kids involved knew that the house had been broken into, and one of those at the party explained their actions to the paper this way: "There was a mess because everyone was drunk. We're all sorry about it. We're good kids, not criminals."

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