His timing couldn't have been worse.
Tyrelle A. Phillips was in a Walgreens in O'Fallon, Missouri, on September 16, 2014, using counterfeit credit cards to buy Visa gift cards. O'Fallon Police just so happened to be in the exact same store on the exact same day, obtaining surveillance photos of people suspected of committing the exact same crime.
And just like a Hollywood comedy, they met cute.
A press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office picks up the story from there:
While the officers were in the store, they observed Phillips attempting to purchase prepaid Visa gift cards in separate transactions using multiple credit cards. Due to their familiarity with the scheme and the fact that Phillips' appearance matched that of an individual suspected of a crime, the officers stopped Phillips.
Naturally, when they searched Phillips' vehicle, they found a laptop with a card writing machine and five "fraudulently purchased gift cards, valued at $500 each." Phillips told the cops that he used the laptop and a device to create the counterfeit cards. They also found messages on his cell phone with a total of 96 credit card numbers.
Phillips told cops he was part of a scheme where he'd get stolen credit card numbers from an associate via text. He'd make fake cards using the numbers, then use them to purchase gift cards in large amounts in exchange for half their face value. Cops found that the 24-year-old Illinois resident had left a trail from California to Nevada to Oregon to Wyoming in addition to Missouri and Illinois.
If only all police work could be this easy.
On Monday, Phillips was sentenced to 39 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution to his victims. The U.S. Attorney's Office says he cost consumers in the St. Louis area alone "in excess of $62,000."
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