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They've Got Your Number

By Shannon in News on Nov 4, 2006 5:35PM

Unless you're partaking in one of the lovely establishments along the colorful strip of north Lincoln Avenue, chances are you plunk down a credit card when you rent a hotel room. Makes perfect sense, right? Chicagoist is just hoping you didn't do so in the past few years whilst you visited the Joliet area to satisfy your gaming urges. On Thursday, area police raided seven hotels and arrested ten people who had stolen and sold over 10,000 credit card numbers across a span of six years. Two more people are being sought in the identity theft ring.

2006-11-hotel.jpgSix years, you wonder aloud. Why did it take so long to bust the ring? Here's how it went down: John Q. Public checks into the hotel and pays with plastic. Employees of the hotel wait about a year after the transaction. Figuring they're "safe," they sell off JQP's credit card number to an undercover police informant. JQP is also most likely an out-of-towner, making tracing the mystery charges more difficult. Most numbers were worth $100 each to hotel staffers; some accounts with high limits or corporate status went for $500. The informant claims he bought some pricey gadgets with his ill-gotten gains, like plasma TVs. We wouldn't be too surprised if, since he was hanging out in Joliet, most of it ended up down da drain.

The hotels included some major chains: three Super 8's, two Holiday Inn Expresses, one Ramada and one Budget Express Inn. While part of chains, the hotels were individually owned. What alarms us is that the ring was busted only because the sheriff's department decided it was over, not because a number of people had found huge charges rung up on their credit cards. Plus, those 10,000 numbers were all given to one informant. Who knows how many other people bought numbers as well?

"That's what dreams were made for" courtesy of swanksalot.