Champaign parolee charged over alleged cloned credit cards

Champaign parolee charged over alleged cloned credit cards

URBANA — A Champaign man on parole for a weapons violation has been charged with identity theft in connection with alleged cloned credit cards found in his home.

Urbana police Lt. Rich Surles said on Jan. 17, a parole agent went to check on Damonta Little, 25, at his apartment in the 400 block of Edgebrook Drive.

Surles said at the parole officer's request, members of the Champaign County Street Crimes Task Force stood by and the agent eventually asked officers to come in the apartment.

"They talk to Little and discuss his living arrangements, where he works. Then the agent calls detectives to his bedroom, where there is a credit card reader and several blank cards on top of Little's bed and a shipping box of blank cards addressed to him," Surles said.

Because of conflicting stories about who owned the cards, police took them as evidence and left.

Surles said Investigator Duane Smith, who specializes in financial crimes, analyzed the blank cards and found their magnetic strips contained credit information from other people. Smith contacted at least one woman, who said she had not given anyone permission to use her credit card.

Smith also learned that Little worked at a Champaign restaurant and had access to patrons' credit cards.

Surles said a search of Little's computer found photos of credit cards, suggesting that Little allegedly collected the information from patrons' cards by snapping pictures of them with his cellphone.

Little was arrested Thursday morning at Parkland College.

A search of his car turned up three rechargeable game cards with magnetic strips similar to what are used in gaming parlors. Surles said those were taken as evidence so police could see what information they might contain.

Department of Corrections records show that Little was paroled in February 2017 after serving a prison sentence for unlawful use of weapons from McDonough County. He also had a 2010 conviction from Cook County for aggravated robbery.

The charges filed Friday against Little are Class 2 and 3 felonies, but because of Little's criminal record, he faces six to 30 years in prison if convicted of the more serious count. That charge alleges he had the personal identifying information of three or more people and that he knew the information had been illegally obtained.

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