Officers from the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety arrested Raymond Stewart of Park Forest, Ill., on Saturday after a store clerk alerted police earlier that afternoon.
Stewart, 59, is being held on a $200,000 bond after video arraignment Tuesday morning in Ottawa County District Court. He is charged with multiple counts of possession and fraudulent use of a financial transaction device. He is also charged with possession or sale of a Taser.
The bond was set high because Stewart has a lengthy criminal history, according to Capt. Mark Bennett of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department.
Clerks at the Wesco stores in Grand Haven Township and Spring Lake were made aware of possible suspicious purchases of prepaid credit cards, Bennett said. When Stewart made the alleged purchases at the Wesco store on Mercury Drive, the clerk alerted police and provided information about the suspect.
“It is a fairly sophisticated credit card cloning case,” Bennett said. “Somewhere they have an embossing machine and a magnetic loading device that loads information on the loading strip.”
Bennett said the thieves use their machines to create fake credit cards “which appear real and are connected to real bank accounts.”
“They are buying actual VISA gift cards with fraudulent credit cards,” he said.
Although both Wesco stores were targeted, Bennett said no other stores in the area were involved.
“We are checking to see if other places were hit between here and Chicago,” he said.
Bennett credited the team effort between the Sheriff’s Department, Spring Lake/Ferrysburg police and the Grand Haven department in securing the arrest of the suspect. He said police are also working with the U.S. Secret Service in the investigation of financial transaction devices throughout Michigan.