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Halloween Stores Stifle Couple's Scary Credit Card Costume Scam

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on October 30, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

We all want to celebrate Halloween in our own way. And for some of us, that means thousands of dollars in scary costumes and spooky decorations. That's all well and good, as long as we're actually paying for it.

But a New Mexico couple went on a Halloween shopping spree, all with stolen credit card numbers. And they would've gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for some sharp costume shop employees.

Creepy Criminals

According to Albuquerque's KRQE, a local couple was targeting local seasonal pop-up shops, making off with thousands in Halloween costumes and decorations, sometimes shopping at the same store on consecutive days and multiple stores on the same day. "This is merchandise that you don't need and it is a little pricey," said one Spirit Halloween store manager, "so they do come in here and try to get away with $40-50 costumes a lot."

Seth McKelvy-Cothren and girlfriend Lona Armstrong allegedly went shopping with their 5-month-old son, but Spirit staff were spooked by their use of a credit card with no numbers on it. "When we went to scan it, it actually didn't even scan or work," according to a store manager. "He was like well I know the credit card number, and we're like we can't do that." Staff called the police, and the pair were apprehended nearby.

Frightening Fraud

McKelvy-Cothren allegedly told officers he was using a pre-paid card to purchase items for his birthday party, but was found with several fake cards in his car. Armstrong also denied knowing anything about the cards, and officers were going to let her go until they searched her and found a lot of gifts cards inside her bra. Officials claim the pair ghosted with over $1,300 in Halloween loot.

McKelvy-Cothren was charged with fraud, ID theft, and tampering with evidence, and Armstrong was also charged with tampering with evidence along with conspiracy to commit fraud. And the incidents have united Spirit stores to keep an eye out for suspicious activity.

"We just don't trust anyone anymore," the Spirit manager told KRQE. "We're onto this and we do want it to stop."

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