A Brighton area resident on a routine errand Sunday ended up helping police crack what could be a multi-state credit card fraud ring.
Trevor Cain said it all began when he noticed something suspicious while getting his oil changed. His instinct led to the arrest and arraignment of four New York men for felony credit card fraud, and believed to be part of a network of crime stretching across state lines, police said.
In an interview with Brighton Patch, Cain said he was at on Old US-23 in Brighton when four men pulled up in a black mini-van, parked, then walked acrossed the street to .
"The parking lot was almost empty so there was no reason for them not to park at Walgreens," he said.
Cain said he expressed concern to a worker at Quickie Lube, who called the drugstore and discovered the men had tried to purchase gift cards with a credit card in someone else's name.
Cain said when he heard that, he felt compelled to follow the vehicle. The men drove to Brighton's second on W. Grand River Ave., Cain said, where they attempted the same thing. At that point he called Livingston County Central Dispatch.
"They asked me to stay on the phone with them so I did. I followed the car through Brighton," Cain said. "They got onto (interstate) 96. One police officer got behind them, then others followed."
The Net Closes
According to Sgt. Mark Thompson of the Michigan State Police-Brighton Post, troopers responded to Cain's call around 3 p.m. and with the assistance of the , were able to stop the suspects on eastbound I-96 near Pleasant Valley Road.
Through subsequent investigation, the four suspects — three from St. Albans, NY and the fourth from Hollis — were taken into custody for credit card fraud, Thompson said.
“The credit card fraud investigation is continuing," said Trooper Ashley Christe of MSP Brighton, the officer in charge of the investigation. "Indications are these individuals may be working a multi-state fraud.”
The four men, all in their 20s, were arraigned in Livingston County District Court on Tuesday afternoon, and face 20-year felony charges, according the Livingston County Press & Argus. The men, each being held in the Livingston County Jail on a $500,000 bond, return to District Court on Feb. 15 for an exam conference, the Press & Argus reported.
Cain told Patch he only did what anyone else would do if they saw something that "didn't seem right." He commended police on their rapid response to his call, and said he was glad to help keep Brighton safe.
"I actually thought it was pretty cool," Cain said.
Fraud in Brighton
Lt. Jon Westendorf of the told Patch for a Dec. 29 story that Brighton's location attracts criminals using stolen credit cards and checkbooks.
"Brighton is a hub, situated right in the middle of I-96 and US-23. People bring stolen credit cards to our city, use them at four or five establishments and hop back on the freeway," Westendorf said.
Westendorf said there were 30 cases of fraud in Brighton last year, most of them ending in arrests.