A Winchester woman is behind bars on a charge related to her unknowingly funding an overseas terrorist organization, police said.
Betty Stidham, 54, was arrested Wednesday and charged with one felony count of unauthorized use of a credit card, Winchester Police Detective Danny Thomas said.
Stidham used stolen credit card numbers given to her by a Nigerian man to buy thousands of dollars worth of merchandise, Thomas said. Stidham then shipped the merchandise — including clothes, shoes and electronics — to the man, whom authorities believe is affiliated with a terrorist group.
"I'm quite confident she did not know there was terrorism involved," Thomas said. The individual balances on the stolen credit card accounts ranged in the neighborhood of $30,000 to $40,000, he said.
Stidham sent two to three packages overseas each week since April, and for each box she was paid $135, Thomas said. Stidham — whose husband, Walter, died in 2006 — had become acquainted over the Internet with a man who called himself Kelvin Scott, and she thought he was going to marry her, Thomas said.
The U.S. Secret Service is investigating the case. The agency became involved when Central Bank in Winchester put a hold on a $6,000 check with which Stidham had tried to open an account, Thomas said.
Cases similar to Stidham's "apparently are going on all over the United States," Thomas said.
Unauthorized use of a credit card is a Class D felony punishable by one to five years in prison.
Stidham remained in the Clark County jail Friday in lieu of a $2,500 cash bond.
Jail personnel and Thomas did not know when she will be arraigned in Clark District Court, but they said they anticipate it will be early next week.