‘Serial’ thief admits stealing credit cards

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A man authorities describe as a “serial credit card thief” admitted stealing cards from a school, a school employee, and a church volunteer, and then forging their signatures.

Keith Winston, 50, of Buffalo, has a record for theft going back 18 years, and he was already on parole when he was arrested earlier this year for stealing credit cards.

Standing in front of State Supreme Court Justice Penny Wolfgang, Winston pled guilty to three counts of forgery, although prosecutors believe there were other instances.

Winston admitted stealing the company credit card at Nichols School and stole an employee’s credit card. Assistant District Attorney Paul Parisi told Wolfgang, Winston also stole a credit card at a church in North Buffalo from a parishioner.

“Who was volunteering at the time, from his jacket. Did then take those credit cards and use those credit cards and fraudulently forged the signature of that parishioner.” Winston also admitted stealing a credit card at a West Side pre-school.

Because of the victims Winston chose to steal from, and the places he targeted, Wolfgang ordered him held without bail until sentencing.

“He is out there possibly going into our most vulnerable places, such as schools and churches,” said the judge. “He has a mandatory sentence, as pointed out, and he is going to be remanded until sentencing.”

While we often hear of cases where thousands, or even millions of identities are stolen, how do you know if you are a victim? Noelle Carter of Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo says, check your credit report—your free credit report.

“Individuals do get access to their credit reports for free, from each of the three credit bureaus, once a year. So we usually recommend pulling the report up every 4 months, so you have an eye on what has been going on throughout the year. If there are any changes you can immediately detect it and do something about it.”

While some credit card companies offer free credit scores as a benefit, the free credit reports can show you how well your financial health is holding up. But when selecting a credit report, make sure it really is free, with no hidden charges, or requires you to buy something.

Click on this credit report website, which gives you access to all three major credit reporting agencies. You are allowed one free report from each bureau, once a year.

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