So you're running a credit card fraud ring from your rental Ford SUV in the Pacific Northwest and have been doing so for more than a half year. How does your run come to an end? If you're Jonathan Dominic Coons, 39, from Oregon, and Samantha A. Rudd, 23, from Washington, it ends after Rudd forgets to use a turn signal when getting off the interstate and the couple gets pulled over by the Idaho State Police. But the real hero of this story is the county sheriff's K-9 brought in for the search, ensuring these two an extended stay in Idaho.
The villains go to jail, while the hero gets a treat!
The story follows a common refrain in rental car lore, where criminal enterprises completely fall apart during routine (and very avoidable) traffic stops:
- The driver breaks a simple traffic law.
- The rental car is registered to neither driver nor passenger.
- The driver doesn't have a driver's license in her own name.
- The passenger arouses officer's suspicion.
- The officer calls in a K-9 unit.
Frequent readers of the AutoSlash blog on Friday have learned a lot about probable cause since we started our "Felony Friday" series. In fact, if the driver (Rudd) had a license in her own name and the rental was also in her name, the officer couldn't keep them longer than the time needed to fill in the traffic citation. With no documents in order, the Wonder K-9 from the Cassia County Sheriff's Office got requested and quickly became a real problem for Rudd and Coons, as the dog alerted to contraband between the front and rear doors. The contraband? Not drugs but fake credit cards. The vehicle had:
- An Oregon driver's license for the vehicle "renter" with a photo resembling Rudd
- A Washington driver's license with a photo resembling Rudd
- Credit cards and gift cards in Coons' name
- A credit card manufacturing machine
- A variety of credit card blanks to make new credit cards
- A book with thousands of credit card numbers for said credit card machine and blanks.
The book included dates back to mid-2017, some credit card numbers were crossed out, and there were two different sets of handwriting. Sadly, Rudd and Coons forgot a few critical factors in their criminal enterprise -- namely, that fraudulently using credit information is a felony but secondarily, two or more people doing so forms a conspiracy (another felony)! In this case, we suspect the final outcome will involve lots of jail time multiplied by two, rather than the traditional prisoner's dilemma "optimal" outcome. And Coons was already under investigation in Vancouver, Washington, for credit card fraud, so he has something else to look forward to after his sojourn in Idaho!