A Douglas County teenager was out on bond Thursday after appearing before a magistrate judge on charges he used a White House official’s Social Security number to apply for a credit card.
During a hearing Wednesday, according to the Douglas County Sentinel, a sheriff’s investigator said James Townsend of Douglasville, using the name "Austin Townsend," had applied for a Discover card using the unidentified official’s personal information.
The investigation led the Secret Service to the Chapel Hill High School 11th-grader’s home, which was searched for evidence. The newspaper reported agents also copied files from the teen’s computer.
"He wanted a Discover card and apparently got on the computer and started Googling different areas and ended up with a particular Social Security number," Douglas County Chief Deputy Stan Copeland told Channel 2 Action News on Thursday. "He was not Googling any particular person. We don't think he had any knowledge [of who it was]."
The teenager's attorney told Channel 2 that his client simply did what children do on the internet. "We want to say he's not a terrorist, but he was a child surfing the internet and got this," attorney Nicole Jones told Channel 2.
A credit agency noticed the name Townsend used didn't match the name that belonged to the Social Security number. That's when the Secret Service was alerted.
in court this week, Townsend, 17, told Magistrate Court Judge Susan Camp he was “just goofing off” when she asked him whether he was “just thinking up numbers” for the alleged attempted credit card fraud, according to the Sentinel report.
The judge, who chastised the teen before setting his cash bond at $1,000, told Townsend he “messed with the wrong person” when he used the Obama administration official’s information. Federal authorities would not name the official, who was identified in court as “a senior-level executive branch official under the protection of the United States Secret Service.”
Townsend faces up to five years in prison if convicted, the judge said.