HAMMOND | A traffic stop on Interstate 65 in Jasper County last month led to the discovery of what may be a multimillion-dollar credit card fraud ring, Hammond federal court records show.
Two men, Souleyman Camara and Ibraham Barry, were indicted in U.S. District Court this month on two counts connected to the alleged fraud.
Police stopped an SUV for speeding March 24 near mile marker 216 on I-65, according to an affidavit unsealed Tuesday. An officer smelled marijuana, and the driver consented to a search of the SUV, the affidavit says.
Police became suspicious when they found 352 gift cards in the center console and a backpack in the back seat, according to the affidavit. The driver, Camara, and passenger Barry allegedly gave conflicting stories about the cards.
Police also found four fake credit cards in Camara's wallet, according to the affidavit. The cards were embossed with Camara's name and credit card numbers, which did not match numbers produced by the cards' magnetic strips when run through a card reader, the affidavit states.
Police later learned of fraud on two of the accounts associated with the actual credit card numbers, the affidavit says.
Barry told police multiple people from states in West Africa pool their money, and one of them buys credit card information stolen by computers hackers, the affidavit says.
Barry said that person then emails the information to the others, who each create their own credit cards using a computer and card encoding machine, court records state.
Barry told authorities he began working for Camara in October. He used fake credit cards provided by Camara to purchase gift and currency cards, cellphones, jewelry and clothing, the affidavit states.
Barry told police he and Camara were headed to Chicago the day they were stopped to sell some of the gift cards, court records state.
Barry said the value of the gift cards was at least $50 each, authorities said.
That "would make the total value of the gift cards recovered approximately $17,000," the affidavit states. "Barry indicated that this group is a multimillion-dollar credit card fraud operation."
Camara told police he didn't know anything about the gift cards or fake credit cards and alleged they belonged to Barry.