3 Gwinnett men charged in Walmart card scheme

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Three Gwinnett men have been charged with stealing financial account information in a scheme to buy iPads at Walmart, police said.

Lawrenceville police believe the suspects -- Christopher Hamilton, 20, of Snellville, Kadeem Robinson, 20, of Lawrenceville, and Martevius Watkins, 18, of Lilburn -- accessed the banking account information of at least seven victims, and then encoded that information on Walmart debit cards and other cards.

Police were notified Aug. 7 by an employee of a Walmart at 1400 Lawrenceville Highway who thought "something didn't seem right about their IDs, credit cards and the number of iPads" the suspects were trying to purchase, according to a police report.

Hamilton told police he bought two iPad 3s valued at $528 each that day, and officers allegedly found three similar devices in a car they were traveling in.

When approached by police in the parking lot, Hamilton and Robinson said they had bought the iPads to sell to friends in Tennessee. Hamilton was arrested after he admitted to police the cards he used were coded; the other two were released pending a more extensive investigation, the report states.

Hamilton remains in jail without bond, and Watkins was picked up Tuesday. Each is charged with multiple counts of identity fraud and forgery of financial transaction card. Warrants have also been issued for Robinson, but Gwinnett jail records indicate he was not in custody Wednesday.

Warrants indicate some of the coded cards were Walmart Green Dot cards, which Duluth police said were used in a widespread fraud investigation last year.

Investigators said the earlier scam may have accounted for $250,000 stolen from victims and deposited in prepaid card accounts used in Gwinnett and elsewhere. Victims were found from New York, to Texas to Washington state, police said.