Home > News > Couple Sent to Prison for Creating ‘Credit Card Lab’

Comments 0 Comments

An Atlanta couple was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Dec. 12, almost three years after police discovered a sophisticated credit card lab in the basement of their home. Law enforcement found more than 97,000 unique credit and debit card numbers, more than 800 fake credit cards (they found more, which were not complete), about 100 fake IDs, $199,000 in cash, jewelry worth more than $380,000 and gift cards valued at more than $43,000, according to a news release from the U.S. District Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Georgia.

The scale of this two-person operation isn’t even the most remarkable part of the story. Sure, it’s pretty crazy to think two people were manufacturing hundreds, possibly thousands, of fake credit cards in their basement, but the amazing thing is the police just stumbled into this lab. It all started with a 911 call.

Officers responded to a report of an intruder at the home of Paul L. Black and Ednecdia Sutina Johnson the morning of Dec. 21, 2011, according to the news release, which is based on court information. The police reportedly found a man in the driveway, with a gun injury to his head. The front door was kicked in, and a sawed-off shotgun lay in the blood-spattered foyer. Officers found blood and bullet holes throughout the house.

“The officers moved to the basement, where they discovered a trail of blood leading to a locked door that had blood smeared on its handle,” the release says. “Officers forced the door open and when they entered the room they found a highly sophisticated credit card lab that contained credit card presses, computers, printers, card embossers, stacks of blank credit cards and partially completed cards, cash, and two handguns.”

Black and Johnson pleaded guilty March 18, 2014, to access device fraud, possession of device-making equipment, possession of false identification documents and possession of a document-making implement.

It’s unclear how the couple attained the credit and debit card numbers, but such data is fairly easy to come by online. Regular data breaches keep the black markets well-stocked with stolen card numbers.

Credit card fraud is a common occurrence, but you can minimize the damage you might experience if your information is stolen by regularly monitoring your accounts and checking your credit. Setting up transactional alerts or reviewing your account activity daily are among the easiest strategies for spotting and stopping fraud. You can also look at your credit scores for signs of fraud (like a sudden drop in score), and you can get two of your scores for free every 30 days on Credit.com.

More on Identity Theft:

Image: iStock

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team