Fraud probe brings arrest

Man, 24, is accused of buying items with stolen credit cards

May be wide-ranging case

Police say victims could be spread across United States

Howard County

December 14, 2000|By Mark Ribbing | Mark Ribbing,SUN STAFF

In a theft and fraud case that could involve victims from states around the country, Howard County police said yesterday that they have arrested a man accused of stealing credit cards from purses in bars and restaurants, and then using the cards to buy hundreds of dollars' worth of electronic goods and other items.

Bryon Everette Gould Jr., a 24-year-old Baltimore resident, was in custody at the Howard County Detention Center in Jessup after being arrested Friday and charged with 19 counts of theft and credit card fraud.

Police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said that additional charges might be filed and that the extent of the fraud might run into "tens of thousands" of dollars and involve victims across the nation. Llewellyn said Gould was found to have 65 different drivers' licenses, apparently stolen, from numerous states.

"Detectives think that they may not even scratch the surface" in the case, Llewellyn said. "It's obviously going to be a wide-ranging case."

Police described Gould as a male "preoperative transsexual" who regularly dresses in women's clothes.

Florence Steffen, a spokeswoman for the Anne Arundel County police, said the department had discussed the Gould case with Howard County detectives and determined that it "definitely is not related at all" to a ring of cross-dressing thieves who made purchases on credit cards stolen from purses and wallets in Anne Arundel.

According to a police request for an arrest warrant on Gould, a spate of wallet thefts occurred in the Long Gate and Columbia Crossing shopping centers from Oct. 7 to Nov. 24.

On Nov. 15, police responded to reports of a wallet stolen from a purse at Carrabba's Italian Grill in Long Gate. The victim's daughter said she had seen a man and a woman lingering near the victim's purse shortly before the victim noticed that her wallet had been taken.

The "woman," who police say turned out to be Gould, was described as tall and in her early 20s, with "black hair with reddish/purple highlights," while the man was described as "chubby faced" and in his early 20s.

Later that day, police said, two people matching those descriptions tried to buy $583.27 worth of clothing at Hecht's at The Mall in Columbia on a credit card belonging to the Carrabba's customer. When a cashier asked them to provide a photo identification, they left the store.

The cashier reported the incident, and mall security followed the suspects to a car bearing a Virginia license plate. The car turned out to be a rental that had been paid for by Gould. Police said Gould had paid for the car on a Visa debit card that was in his name.

Detectives checked Motor Vehicle Administration records, which had three photographs of Gould. According to the warrant document, "All three showed different variations of Bryon Gould, who had the appearance of a female."

Police said these "variations of Bryon Gould" bore a strong resemblance to those captured on surveillance cameras at Hecht's and at BJ's Wholesale Club in Columbia.

At BJ's, police said, Gould bought a steam vacuum cleaner on a MasterCard stolen from a customer at the Outback Steakhouse near Carrabba's.

Gould was arrested at his home in the 100 block of Stonecroft Road and is scheduled to be tried in District Court on Feb. 13. The other male suspect is not in custody and was being sought by police.

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