ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- A college student who eluded police for years while racking up thousands of dollars on stolen credit card numbers has finally been stopped.
Investigators say he made the cards himself and applied real numbers to them to buy expensive electronics.
Federal agents say a former Purdue University engineering student eluded police for three years while hopscotching through the Midwest, buying up iPads at Wal-Marts throughout seven states then selling them for a profit on Ebay. Christopher Bitters, who went by the alias "Michael Murray," just pleaded guilty to the claims.
When Bitters bought six iPads from Wal-Marts in Chesterfield, Eureka and Wentzville -- all on the same day -- Wal-Mart security got suspicious and called police. It turns out, Bitters was committing federal crimes.
The feds found nearly 100 homemade credit cards, four fake i.d.s that Bitters made to match the credit cards, and pages upon pages of legitimate credit card account numbers.
"That could be your number," U.S. Secret Service Agent Christina Schmidt said. "He was essentially purchasing the numbers and the information to go with the numbers -- the name, the expiration date, the security code on the back -- from a website that was selling those numbers."
Federal agents caught Bitters in Missouri with evidence on him, but when they searched his West Lafayette, Indiana apartment, they found that Bitters had all of the equipment to carry on his operation. Investigators discovered thousands of plastic cards, machines to imprint the account numbers onto the cards, even holograms they say he bought from a company out of Japan.
The Secret Service says hackers who breach big banks and credit card companies sell your information to people like Bitters.
"Unfortunately you may not know that until you get your statement or look online, that's why we advocate that you check your credit card accounts often," Schmidt said.
The Secret Service warns that while your bank will likely absorb your loss, ultimately the crime affects you through higher bank fees.