|Car burglary suspect sought |
A car burglary was caught on tape in this convenience store. Police are asking anyone with information on the suspect in this surveillance video to call 78-CRIME. (3/26/09)Video courtesy YPD
|Credit card fraud suspects|
Yuma police are looking suspects that were captured on surveillance video in Dillard's. They are suspected of using several different fraudulent credit cards to make over $4,000 of purchases. Video courtesy YPD
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Credit card scam nets $4,000 in goods from Dillard's
Yuma police are warning merchants in the area to be on the lookout for three scam artists whose fraudulent use of credit cards and pushy demeanor enabled them to steal more than $4,000 worth of merchandise from the Yuma Dillard's store.
Working together, the trio were able to persuade employees to approve purchases after the credit cards prompted error readings from the computers in the store, police spokesman Officer Clint Norred said.
The three purchased clothing, watches, gift cards and other merchandise worth more than $4,000 between March 15 and March 23 at the store in the Yuma Palms Regional Center.
The scam, previously reported as occurring in stores elsewhere in Arizona and California, involved altering or manufacturing the magnetic strip on the back of the credit cards to provide the store computers false information, Norred said.
"They're either part of the same group (of thieves who have pulled the scam at the other stores) or they've figured they can do it on their own," Norred said.
The three were identified as Malio Villajuana, 35 to 45 yeas of age, about 5 feet 10 and 200 pounds; Isaih Lopez, 25 to 35, 5 feet 10 and 175 pounds, and Abel Ochoa. There was no description for Ochoa. Police cautioned that the names, which came from the credit card transactions, are likely false.
Norred said police don't know if they live in the Yuma area or were passing through the area.
Police have not received any reports that the three have struck any other stores in the area, but Norred said the thefts from Dillard's should serve as notice to other merchants in the area to take steps to protect themselves by reviewing their credit card purchasing policies.
An obvious step is to require identification if a customer's use of a credit card prompts an "error" message, he said.
At Dillard's, the use of the altered credit card would prompt an error reading, Nereid said, and the suspects would give the cashier an authorization number or produce a different credit card in efforts to convince the cashier to complete the transaction without notifying the banks.
"They were just pushy and demanding," Nereid said. "These guys have obviously done it before, and they worked well together."
Such demeanor should be a "red flag" to merchants, he said.
And "a red flag should go up when someone shows up with a pocketful of credit cards."
Nereid urges employers to review store policies to "make sure they're employees are up to speed on how to handle that situation."
He added that merchants who suspect customers are scamming them with credit card purchases should call police while the transactions are in progress rather than waiting until after the fact.
"While they're in the middle of the transaction, we need to be on our way," he said.
Fortunately in the Dillard's case, store video caught the suspects on tape. Police have released the video, which can be viewed at www.yumasun.com.
Police are urging anyone with information about the identity of the suspects to call (928) 373-4700 or, to remain anonymous, 78-CRIME.
John Vaughn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6850.