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Pair charged with credit card scam in Watertown now facing federal allegations

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A man and woman charged Jan. 2 by Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies with using stolen credit card information to go on a shopping spree in Watertown now face federal allegations that they made phony credit cards using card information swiped from customers at a Colorado restaurant.

Nathan L. Howard, 25, and Ashley N. Perlmutter, 23, both of 11 Beaverdam Brook Drive, Williamstown, face multiple fraud charges for allegedly engaging in “carding,” a practice in which a hand-held skimming device is used to capture data from a credit card and a counterfeit card is produced using the data, according to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court, Syracuse, by a special agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

The pair was arrested in Watertown on charges of fourth-degree grand larceny, second- and third-degree identity theft and petit larceny for allegedly using credit card data stolen from a Texas woman to make $1,137.13 in purchases at Walmart Supercenter on Route 3 in the town of Watertown, $419.20 in purchases at Target on Route 3 and $34.01 in purchases at Buffalo Wild Wings, 1290 Arsenal St.

According to the federal complaint, Mr. Howard was a waiter at a chain restaurant in Thornton, Colo., where he was known as Daniel Howard and had provided a Florida driver’s license as proof of his identity. After the restaurant received several complaints from customers alleging their credit cards had been compromised, it was determined that Mr. Howard had been their waiter. Officers obtained a warrant to search Mr. Howard’s vehicle in January 2012 and allegedly found a hand-held skimmer and a Florida driver’s license in the name of Robert Allen Banks, with Mr. Howard’s photo on it. Mr. Howard agreed to cooperate with the investigation and was not arrested at that point, but investigators later learned he had provided them with a fake local address.

A month later, customers who had been served by Mr. Howard at the Colorado restaurant complained that their credit card accounts were being used fraudulently in Reno, Nev. A warrant was issued for his arrest on charges of money laundering, theft, forgery, identity theft and possession of identity theft tools.

According to the complaint, when Mr. Howard was arrested in Watertown, he possessed 10 credit or debit cards with account numbers embedded in the magnetic strips on the cards’ backs that did not match what was listed on the front. The cards were embossed with the name Daniel G. Howard. Police also found a magnetic credit card reader, a collapsible baton, a lock pick and pepper spray.

A search of the pair’s home in Williamstown allegedly turned up a purse containing $15,480 in cash, about $7,500 in gift cards and a rifle, among other items. Investigators also determined that Miss Perlmutter had purchased the residence Nov. 26 for $50,000 in cash, according to the complaint. Mr. Howard allegedly admitted that “carding” is the pair’s only source of income and that most of his possessions had been paid for with the proceeds, including the house.

Mr. Howard remains held at the Metro-Jefferson Public Safety Building on $25,000 bail, while Miss Perlmutter is held on $10,000.

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