A San Francisco Bay Area man was indicted Tuesday after TSA agents at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport caught him in February with what authorities said was a stash of nearly 100 fraudulent credit cards, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced.
Elton Lee Flenaugh was charged with conspiracy, possession of counterfeit access devices and aggravated identity theft after the security agents discovered the cards hidden in an empty potato chip bag stored in a carry-on bag.
An unidentified female companion of Flenaugh’s was caught with the backpack as the two prepared to board a flight to Phoenix. According to the U.S. Attorney, Flenaugh handed the bag to the woman before approaching the pre-flight security checkpoint, where he claimed to have no carry-on luggage or photo ID and used an alias, “Joshua Ford.”
His companion presented the backpack for screening, and while it was being X-rayed, a TSA agent noticed the stack of cards, 33 of which carried the woman’s name. Another 21 cards had not yet been embossed with names or account numbers, federal prosecutors said.
A number of fake driver’s licenses from various states were also discovered hidden in the insole of a pair of tennis shoes. Three had Flenaugh’s photograph, but each carried a different name, prosecutors allege.
Flenaugh was arrested by APD officers and charged with state credit card offenses, as was his companion, who remains in state custody. Flenaugh was arrested March 4 by U.S. Secret Service agents and charged with one count of possessing 15 or more counterfeit or unauthorized access devices.
The indictment also charges Flenaugh with one count of conspiracy to possess 15 or more counterfeit or unauthorized access devices, one count of possession of 15 or more counterfeit or unauthorized access devices and nine counts of aggravated identity theft. Added up, the charges carry a maximum sentence matching Flenaugh’s age: 33 years.
Fines of up to $250,000 per count could also be imposed, the U.S. Attorney said.