Duo facing dozens of charges for counterfeit credit card fraud

Sir Cooley and Donyelle Cullins
photo Sir Cooley
photo Donyelle Cullins

Two men face a litany of charges that have been added onto a pile of existing charges after being found in possession of 83 counterfeit credit and gift cards almost two years ago.

On March 9, 2016, Hamilton County Sheriff's Office deputies pulled over a silver Chevrolet Malibu in the 1700 block on Ooltewah Ringgold Road after a manager at Food City reported two men had tried to buy money orders with credit cards, according to court documents.

The store had implemented a new policy that money orders were to be bought with cash only, because such fraudulent purchases had been made at local stores. The two men, 28-year-old Sir Cooley and 28-year-old Donyelle Cullins, left the store and got into the car, which was pulled over by law enforcement shortly after.

An arrest affidavit states a K-9 unit was called to the scene because "credit card fraud of this nature is used frequently by narcotics traffickers" and the dog alerted on the car.

Deputies found a bundle of 33 credit cards hidden in the car during a subsequent search, all in Cullins' name, as well as another 50 in Cooley's name. Deputies also found a backpack containing 35 gift cards from various stores as well as Western Union money orders for $499.

The cards, on their faces, appeared to have been issued to banks from across the country, but when investigators scanned them, they found the numbers were assigned to a different bank. Five of the numbers that came back were from Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union, some of which had been closed or had fraud alerts.

All 83 cards were missing a holographic image on the back of the card and the signature and magnetic strips were missing built-in security features.

Charges were filed against both men in Hamilton County General Sessions Court, but a grand jury also returned an indictment against them on more than 30 charges several months later. Both men are scheduled to appear in general sessions court and criminal court in March on dozens of charges including criminal simulation, theft of identity and theft of property.

Contact staff writer Emmett Gienapp at egienapp@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6731. Follow hm on Twitter @emmettgienapp.