What 115 counterfeit credit cards could buy; suspects now behind bars

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SLIDELL, La. (WGNO) — St. Tammany Parish deputies say they arrested a Slidell couple in a credit card fraud/identity theft investigation.

In all, deputies say they found 115 counterfeit credit cards, equipment to make the cards and more than $25,000 worth of high-end shoes.

Two suspects were arrested.  They are identified as Roland Celestine and Gariuan Hampton, both of 726 Joseph Street in Slidell.  The pair faces fraud, theft, and other charges.

Among the equipment seized during the execution of a search warrant at the home, deputies say they confiscated credit card skimmers, electronic credit card encoding equipment, a card embossing machine, and multiple computers.

Deputies also say they found 160 pairs of shoes that were purchased using the fake credit cards.

Here is how deputies say the operation worked.  They say the couple would procure credit card numbers using skimming devices or by other means.  Then they would take pre-paid gift cards, reprogram the magnetic strip with the fraudulent credit card information, then emboss their own names on the cards.

Why would the suspects buy $25,000 worth of high-end or collectible shoes?  Deputies say the shoes are so popular with young people that they can be sold or even used as collateral.

Deputies say they will continue to look for the sources of the compromised credit card numbers as well as search for additional victims.