On October 18, 2022, the Watervliet Police Department was contacted by a victim who received a fraud alert that their credit card was unlawfully used at a local restaurant. As a result, members of the patrol division quickly responded and located the suspect, Justin Walker, in front of the business.
Through investigation, officers located the following fraudulent items (photo attached) in Walker’s possession:
33 credit cards
22 Visa gift cards
Several check books
Approximately $2,000 in U.S currency
Two skimmer devices
Watervliet Police charged Walker, a 27-year-old male (photo attached) with Identity Theft in the 1st Degree (Class D Felony), Forgery in the 2nd Degree (Class D Felony), Possession of a Forged Instrument in the 2nd Degree (Class D Felony), Grand Larceny in the 4th Degree (Class E Felony) and two counts of Unlawful Possession of a Skimmer Device in the 1st Degree (Class E Felony).
Walker was initially arraigned in Watervliet City Court and remanded to the Albany County Correctional Facility without bail. However, on October 21, 2022, at the conclusion of a bail hearing, he was released on his own recognizance because the felonies charged are non-qualifying offenses which preclude the court from setting bail per New York’s bail reform laws.
“New York is the only state, including the federal courts, that doesn’t authorize judges to consider the danger a defendant poses to the public when deciding bail. In virtually every instance, they must implement the least restrictive alternative possible to ensure a return to court. The lunacy of that speaks for itself,” commented Watervliet Police Chief Joseph Centanni. “This limitation has undeniably contributed to the release of countless offenders to wreak havoc in the streets the criminal justice system is designed to protect,” said Centanni.
Walker has an extensive criminal history dating back to 2011. Specifically, he has been arrested/convicted of robbery, identity theft, criminal possession of a forged instrument, criminal possession of a forgery device, grand larceny, criminal impersonation and driving while intoxicated (DWI). In 2018, Walker was convicted of Identity Theft in the 1st Degree and Attempted Criminal Possession of Forgery Devices and sentenced to two to four years in New York state prison. He was released in July 2021 after serving three years. Walker’s parole concluded in July 2022.
“This defendant has repeatedly committed these thefts with zero consideration for the impact it has on others. We commend the victim for their quick thinking and notification which was pivotal in helping officers locate this offender and prevent him from adding someone else to his list. The department remains committed to removing dangerous criminals from our streets,” said Watervliet Police Chief Joseph Centanni.
Skimmers are devices that enable thieves to read the magnetic stripe and store the information on your credit or debit card when you use it at an ATM, gas pump, or other point–of–sale purchase. Once stolen, criminals can create counterfeit cards, make internet or over-the-phone purchases, or use the information to commit identity theft.
Spotting a skimmer device is difficult but there are a few things that can mitigate your risk. Some include:
Making purchases with chip-enabled cards
Using an online or mobile payment service
Setting up alerts to monitor the activity on your credit and debit cards
Paying with cash instead of a card