Man Caught With 431 Credit Cards Reminds You To Protect Your Money - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

06/06/08 - Tyler

Man Caught With 431 Credit Cards Reminds You To Protect Your Money

 

The bond for a career criminal has been set at nearly $215,000 for a dozen different charges, and more could be on the way.

Authorities say Lucas George Cates could face identity theft and credit card abuse charges. He was arrested Tuesday night on charges ranging from drugs and firearms to resisting arrest.

Now, authorities are scrambling to get ahead of somebody that seemed to be always watching his back.

Mounted to the back of Lucas Cates' car was a camera, a reverse dash-cam, always telling him who was on his trail. However, the high-tech gadget wasn't enough to keep him out of jail.

"He's just a methhead who has a little sensibility to him, a little bit of knowledge of how a computer works," explains Smith County Detective Jim Whitham.

With hundreds of credit and gift cards, idenitities from across the country, authorities are trying to figure out just how many crimes he committed.

"That's a lot of victims. So it can be endless. We don't really know until we get to the absolute end of the investigation exactly how many vicitms we may have or how much damage there's been."

The damage Detective Whitham says Cates did out of his car only needed an electrical outlet. And the equipment to make phony checks and credit cards are not as rare as you might think.

"It's readily available at any office supply store. You can buy the computer software. You can buy the check stock paper, you can buy the program, you can buy the labeling machines."

Authorities add that most of the victims probably don't even know their info has been stolen.

"It's an easy crime to commit. It's easy to obtain people's information because it's out there, everywhere, not only on the internet but in business offices, in your home, or in your mailbox."

So what can you do to protect yourself? Detective Whitham says to keep a close eye on your financial transactions.

"Reconcile your bank statements on a monthly basis. Check your credit card statements on a monthly basis, transaction by transaction to make sure you made that transaction, or you know about it. The quicker you find out somebody has compromised your bank account or your credit card or your identity, the quicker it can be reported helps us."

So take the steps to protect your identity, just in case it falls into the wrong hands.

Danielle Capper / dcapper@kltv.com

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