Victim of financial fraud: 'There are real people getting hurt - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Victim of financial fraud: 'There are real people getting hurt by this'

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GARDENDALE - AL -
Local and state authorities are hunting for 6 people accused in a fraud scheme. The cash stolen is even boosting a Birmingham rap group. So far, there are hundreds of victims.

Gardendale Police investigators say this is a massive investigation. So far they've signed 164 warrants on those six suspects charged with identity theft. Many of the victims are being targeted not just once, but several times over.

"It's sad," Barry Bartlett, one of the fraud victims said. "It hurts me these people who do that - I know they think 'we're not hurting anybody,' but there are victims. There are real people getting hurt by this."

Barry Bartlett was one of the some 200 victims.

"When I got up to the register to pay for my food they swiped it and swiped it again and tried to punch it and did a million things trying to get my card to work and it wouldn't ever work," Bartlett said. "We called Regions the next day and they said my card had been compromised and they flagged it."

Detectives say a virus was loaded into restaurant computer systems - then used to track debit and credit card numbers. Local banks and credit unions began contacting police after finding charges to purchase gift cards.

"It's been a big concern because we've continued to see a lot of fraud activity," Detective Chris Clark, Gardendale Police said. "We've also had a lot of victims who have come back to us two and three times."

"It's just hard to believe they can just take your card, get your information off it, clone your card, and turn around and use it just like that," Bartlett said. "It makes you want to use cash everywhere you go."

Five people from Jefferson County and one from Huntsville are charged. Police say four are members of the rap group, "Hood Dynasty." That group of musicians is known for glorifying violence. Most of the cases in this area have been contained, but because the suspects are still on the loose, the threat isn't over.

"If you operate in cash you don't have the potential to be compromised," Clark said. "That's going to be your best course if you want to completely eliminate any potential of fraud."

Suspects' wanted on charges of fraudulent use of credit card, identity theft, trafficking in stolen identities and first-degree attempted theft of property in connection with the ongoing investigation:

Eric Jose Azcona, 27, of Huntsville, is wanted on 56 felony charges.

Steven Joseph Azcona, 24, of Irondale, is facing 15 felony charges.

Christian Talmadge Packer, 24, of Irondale, is wanted on
21 felony charges. His nickname is "Champ Tha Don Dada."

Joshua Caleb Lewis, 25, of Birmingham, is facing 29 felony charges.

Devin Daiget Coleman, 26, of Birmingham,  is wanted on 19 felony warrants.

Kenosha Renay Shaw, 24, Irondale, is wanted on five felony warrants.

Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of these suspects is asked to call the Gardendale Police Department at 205-631-8787.
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