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Vigilant shopper detects alleged credit card fraud

(KSL Broadcasting)


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AMERICAN FORK — Police are crediting an alert shopper for helping them make arrests in a credit card fraud scheme.

American Fork Police said Lin Chen and Zheng Bing Ni from California, allegedly used stolen credit cards to buy dozens of $900 gift cards at Wal-Mart.

"If it was my (credit) card I would want someone to stop it," said the tipster, who wished to remain anonymous.

The men were caught with stolen credit cards, fake IDs and $16,000 worth of gift cards, police said, and all thanks to an observant shopper.

"He bought this $900 gift card and the transaction was completed, and he handed (the cashier) two more gift cards for $900," the woman said.

However, after one man had several different cards declined at the register, the tipster suspected she was witnessing a crime in progress.

"His card was declined, so he pulled another card out and got a few more until that card (wasn't) declined," the tipster said.

The men left the Wal-Mart with five or six $900 gift cards each.

"I looked at the cashier and said ‘You know, that's credit card fraud,' and she said, ‘Yeah, I was kind of thinking that and was trying to get my manager over,' " the tipster said.

The woman said that based on her suspicions, she followed the men to the parking lot, called police and gave them the license plate number for the car the two men were driving.

"This lady was fantastic — she went beyond what anyone would expect," said Lt. Sam Liddiard of the American Fork Police Department.

Chen and Ni reportedly told police, the person they were working for would let them keep 20 percent of everything they were able to steal while in Utah.

Liddiard said the men were also using an Eagle Mountain man's credit card number, even though the victim still had his card.

Police are warning shoppers to be careful during the holiday shopping season, because thieves are looking to take advantage especially this time of year.

"As people are out shopping this time of the year, if they will just pay attention while they are shopping and partner up with the police department, we can really solve a lot of crime this time of the year," Liddiard said.

Both men are facing several felony counts, including retail theft and theft by deception. Each man has his bail set at $100,000.

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Sam Penrod

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