S.J. woman sentenced in $500,000 debit card scheme
A South Jersey woman who used a glitch in the banking system to steal more than $500,000 in merchandise and gift cards from regional clothing stores was sentenced today to three years in federal prison.
Temeshia McDonald, 29, of Mount Holly used a scheme that took advantage of a debit card transaction known as a “forced sale.” From April 2011 to Sept. 2012, she presented an expired or counterfeit card at nearly 500 merchants that included Victoria’s Secret, BCBG and Banana Republic. Though her card was routinely denied during a computer check, McDonald convinced store clerks and managers that the computer was mistaken. She claimed she had an authorization code that would override the computer’s decision, prosecutors said.
McDonald apparently had figured out that any series of numbers would override the denial.
According to prosecutors “ for technical reasons relating to the forced sale process, it does not actually matter what code the merchant types into the terminal. Any combination of digits will override the denial. So long as the customer provides a fake authorization code and convinces the merchant to enter it into the terminal, the transaction will go through. The merchant is unlikely to discover the fraud until days or weeks later.”
Prosecutors are unsure exactly how much McDonald was able to soak the banks . According to court papers, she attempted more than $800,000 in card purchases before she was stopped. McDonald later pleaded guilty to one count of access device fraud.
In addition to 36 months in prison, U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton sentenced McDonald to three years of supervised release and pay restitution of $557,690.