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California pair charged with multistate credit card fraud

'Adam Constant' and the case of the missing suitcase

Federal authorities have accused a California pair of racking up more than $50,000 in fraudulent charges using more than 100 cloned credit cards.

Joseph Hatfield, 27, and Jahmeelah Sullins, 22, of Sacramento, used the cards over a five-month period starting in February, according to documents filed in federal court in Sacramento. Together, they charged perfume, clothes, and gift cards to the counterfeits, which were made by copying track data from legitimate cards and encoding them to the magstripes of blank cards.

The scheme unraveled when Hatfield was flying from Sacramento to Phoenix and a black suitcase he was traveling with lost its baggage claim tag. When Southwest Airlines employees opened it, they found a credit card reader/writer, 25 credit cards, and a California driver license in the name of someone named Adam Constant.

Detectives for the Sacramento County Sheriff soon discovered that the numbers on the cards didn't match the banks that were printed on the cards. They also found that many of them had been used to buy sweaters, jeans, and other items.

The contraband would probably have remained a mystery were it not for a call Hatfield placed to the airline inquiring about a lost black suitcase. When investigators checked the picture on Hatfield's license, they found it matched the one purporting to be Adam Constant. A search of Hatfield's residence turned up more than 100 phony credit cards.

Hatfield and Sullins were charged with conspiracy and access device fraud. Hatfield was also charged with possession of device-making equipment. If convicted on all charges, Hatfield faces a maximum of 30 years in prison, and Sullins faces a maximum of 15 years.

A public defender didn't return a call seeking comment. ®

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