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Criminal Charges, Volume XXXII: Ingredients for credit card fraud

Jeremy Simon

Homemade relish. Subs. Tacos. While this may sound like a meal combination conceived by a hungry college student, they are actually the ingredients in this edition of Criminal Charges that looks at stories involving fraudsters and food.

And speaking of evildoers and eats, I wonder if Bernie Madoff misses his wife’s home cooking yet. You can still buy the cookbook co-authored by Madoff’s wife online.

Bon appetite!

Florida fraudsters rip off senior citizens with relish
This is exactly why I don’t trust people who claim to make their own relish.

A group of Florida fraudsters allegedly used a conversation about condiments to rob elderly shoppers. According to police, while Dino Anzules engaged 79-year-old Edith Gusoff in conversation about how to make relish at a Boynton Beach, Fla., Wal-Mart, police say another member of Anzules’s team grabbed her purse, which contained the woman’s wallet, credit card and driver’s license.

Gusoff’s credit card was later used at a CVS pharmacy. Store surveillance video provided by the Boynton Beach police shows Anzules and Larry Maura purchasing hundreds of dollars in gift cards with the stolen credit card, as well as beer and cigarettes.

 

“Gusoff said she learned that the suspects charged more than $1,166 at pharmacies before her credit cards were declined,” the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.

One of the suspects was caught by police on March 12 outside a Publix grocery store after he allegedly used a similar ruse to steal from a shopper. Police were then able round up the rest of the crew, which also included Stacie Phillips and driver Matthew Larsen.

Boynton Beach police told the Sun-Sentinel that “the four admitted to police that they coordinated the distractions to get cash and credit cards to buy personal items and gift cards that they could trade for drugs and other items.” Phillips, who told police her role was to steal the purse while Anzules distracted the victim, explained that she chose to rob older people because they were easier to distract.

Subway sandwich con artist
An employee of a Subway restaurant in Newark, Del., apparently decided that rather than add some extra sandwich toppings, he would instead take a little off the top for himself.   

Christopher B. Sands was fired from Subway on March 5 after he was found to be allegedly using a customer’s credit card that had been used to pay for a purchase. According to the state of Delaware, “Without the customer’s knowledge, Sands swiped the card a second time, and took the cash amount from the register. Sands was charged with Unlawful Use of a Credit Card and was released on his signature. He was fired by Subway management.”

But apparently, Subway management forgot to take back Sands’ key to the restaurant. In the early morning hours of March 6, he allegedly returned and used his Subway employee key to enter the store and deactivate the alarm. Sands took $300 and secured the store before leaving. He was arrested the same day and undoubtedly also made Jared cry.

Waitress done wrong
Sands isn’t the sole example of a wrongdoing restaurant worker. Carla Renee Brickner was charged with two counts of credit card abuse, with one related to an incident at an eatery earlier this year. In that episode, a man reported that unauthorized charges were made using his Citibank MasterCard. The man said the last time he used the credit card was at a restaurant, but later discovered he was given someone else’s plastic after handing over the card to pay for his meal.

“Through investigation, police discovered Brickner was an employee at the restaurant and left soon after the victim paid for his meal. Video surveillance at a store shows the suspect checking out wearing a coat over a restaurant uniform,” the Wichita Falls Times Record News reports.

That disguise wasn’t enough to keep Brickner from being identified when Crime Stoppers aired the store’s surveillance footage last month.

Bricker apparently admitted to the purchases during an interview with police.

 

Taco Bell location doesn’t agree with cardholders
A Taco Bell employee in Colorado was dishing out more than just chalupas after three crooks were charged with using stolen credit card information supplied to them to make over $14,000 in charges.

The crimes allegedly began at a Taco Bell in Colorado Springs, Colo. “According to police papers, one of the employees working the drive-thru was using a credit card skimmer, which copies the numbers and the magnetic strips so duplicates can be made,” reports KKTV.com. “The employee would then sell customers’ card information to three suspected crooks, who went shopping around town.”

Customers of the fast food location began noticing unusual credit card charges on their statements, including for stores they didn’t shop at. Reportedly, 48 cardholders fell victim to the scheme.

Just in case you think that the criminals only penalized people who had unhealthy habits, the same suspects are also accused of stealing credit card information from gym lockers.

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