3 Employees Charged in B of A Swindle

Times Staff Writer

After months of undercover work, Secret Service agents arrested three employees of the Bank of America credit card center in Pasadena on Thursday on allegations that they have been selling credit cards and microfilm records, running a quick-order service for criminals.

Losses resulting from use of the cards and data by swindlers from coast to coast are expected to total $2 million to $3 million, said Al Joaquin, assistant special agent in charge of the Secret Service field office here.

Joaquin said the three men were charged with fraud and possession of stolen credit cards and paraphernalia. He said they worked together in the illicit activity.

Use of thousands of microfilmed credit records from the Bank of America's big credit card center by swindlers as far away as Hawaii was reported last Nov. 30 by The Times.

Some stolen credit cards were seized in early morning raids on the residences of two of the arrested men, Paris Rene Burden of El Monte and Otis Lee Richard of Pasadena, the Secret Service said. The third man arrested is Larry Courtney, also of Pasadena.

Federal agents also arrested a fourth employee of the center--Burden's wife, Janice--but she was later released without charges, the Secret Service said.

The three are being held at the Terminal Island Federal Corrections Institution. Courtney's bail was set at $20,000; bail for Paris Burden and Richard was set at $15,000 each.

A Bank of America spokesman said all four employees were suspended pending the outcome of an investigation by the bank. The spokesman said he did not know what jobs the four held, but a Secret Service source said Courtney worked in the computer room and Paris Burden in the mail room.

In an affidavit filed in obtaining search warrants and complaints from a U.S. magistrate, a Secret Service agent described how another agent bought credit cards from Paris Burden and Richard.

The same affidavit quoted an informant as describing two sales by Courtney of microfilm reels, each containing information on about 10,000 Bank of America card holders, first about six months ago and again March 1. Two agents witnessed the March 1 meeting but did not see the transaction, which they were told about afterward, the affidavit said.

'Gold Card' Numbers

Courtney was quoted in the affidavit as telling the buyer that the records included "Gold Card" account numbers which have a credit limit of at least $5,000.

The purchaser had called Courtney directly at the credit card center and placed an order for a microfilm reel of records and had taken delivery late at night, according to the informant.

The affidavit also said that Courtney, a convicted burglar, has been under suspicion by the bank for "illegal activities involving bank information in the past."

Bank of America credit cards and computer printouts of credit card information and account numbers also were bought on order from Paris Burden and Richard after calls to them at their homes at night, according to the affidavit.

The informant was quoted as saying that Paris Burden had provided same-evening service on orders, but that Richard provided cards on the evening after an order was placed.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World