MILLERSVILLE, Pa. -- Nine people, eight of them students at Millersville University are being charged with scamming a credit union for more than $20,000.
Following a three-month investigation, Millersville police have charged 9 individuals, with felony counts of access device fraud and related charges.
According to police, two of the suspects, Quadiar Johnson and Alimamy Sesay Jr., both 21, recruited students to sell their debit cards and PIN numbers, so they could be used in the scam. In return, they would receive a cut of the money.
"How much the student got in return, depended on how successful they were with that students card. The most one student got was $2,000 in return," said Sergeant Jeff Margevich with Millersville Borough Police Department.
The scam involved individuals depositing fraudulent checks into an account, then immediately withdrawing the money from those accounts, according to Margevich.
Police say, Johnson and Sesay instructed the students to make reports with PSECU and police, which they did. All but one of the students admitted to police to making false reports.
Johnson and Sesay admitted to heading up the scam, and also identifying the non-student, 24-year-old Aaron Caple of Philadelphia.
Caple is described as the "ring leader" who put the two suspects onto the idea, and demonstrated how to do it, police said.
The investigation at Millersville started with a police report from a student who reported her debit card lost or stolen. She provided police with a suspicious transaction history. Police contacted PSECU, who indicated they were investigating the girl's account, along with several other Milllersville University students.
"The idea is that this is a get rich quick, or quick cash, is the appeal that they often use to the students. We worry especially about these student-related situations because it's a real tragedy to have a young member fall victim to that." said Greg Smith, President of PSECU. He said the scam is all too common, and college students are often the targets, "I think the fraudsters find the younger members are more vulnerable, maybe not as well-educated," he said.
According to Millersville spokesperson Janet Kacskos, "the Office of Judicial Affairs is aware of the case and has begun the judicial process. This type of activity is certainly a violation of the student code of contact."
Caple is under recent federal indictment by the United States Postal Inspector in Philadelphia for multiple counts of this same fraud perpetrated there.
The following have been charged and arraigned or will be arraigned by District Judge Joshua Keller:
Aaron Caple, 24, Philadelphia (non-student): Forgery, Access Device Fraud, Criminal Conspiracy
Quadiar Johnson, 21, Yeadon: Forgery, Access Device Fraud, Criminal Conspiracy, Theft
Alimamy Sesay Jr., 21, Philadelphia: Access Device Fraud, Criminal Conspiracy
Briannia Beaufort, 20, Philadelphia: Access Device Fraud, Criminal Conspiracy, False Reports to police
Jamecia Miller, 20, Coatesville: Access Device Fraud, Criminal Conspiracy, False Reports to police
Nadajah Vickers, 19, Greencastle: Access Device Fraud, Criminal Conspiracy
Aboubacar Doukoure, 19, Philadelphia: Access Device Fraud, Criminal Conspiracy
Sharif Smith, 22, Philadelphia: Access Device Fraud, Criminal Conspiracy, False Reports to police
Dwayne Wolfe Jr., 23, York: Access Device Fraud, Criminal Conspiracy, False Reports to police
Experts say the holidays are a busy time for fraudsters looking to score from your debit card. They have some advice to protect yourself. They say never leave receipts behind where someone could pick them up, especially at the atm, grocery store, or gas pump. Use extra caution when using your debit card online. Don't use an obvious pin number, such as your birth date or telephone number. Also, review your credit bureau report regularly, as that may be the only way to tell if you are a victim of theft.
"The holidays are prime time for this type of fraudulent activity. Merchants are busy, and they might not take all the steps they normally would to process a transaction," said Smith.