Smart store manager busts scam artists

By Staff
TAG TEAM  Reed's Jeweler's manager Brad Sudduth, right, foiled a group of hustlers when he asked assistant manager Nyeesha Harris to call a credit card company and ask some questions. Submitted photo
By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
Dec. 8, 2000
Meridian police say a store manager at Bonita Lakes Mall who became suspicious and phoned a credit card company to check the validity of a card is responsible for busting what may be an organized crime ring run by Cuban nationals.
Sgt. Joe Hoadley of the Meridian Police Department's Criminal Investigations Division said three men and one woman were taken into custody at the mall Thursday afternoon along with $10,000 to $12,000 in what is believed to be stolen merchandise.
Investigators allege the culprits used stolen credit cards, or cards obtained using false names, to make the purchases.
Brad Sudduth, manager of Reed's Jeweler's, said he became wary when the Cuban suspects began making a number of large purchases.
Hoadley said the first suspect was apprehended as he attempted to leave the mall.
Hoadley said agents with the Secret Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service will be arriving today to take over the case. Felony charges are expected, he said.
The foursome was taken to the Lauderdale County Detention Facility and booked on misdemeanor charges of interfering with police for producing fraudulent identification, Hoadley said. They have been placed on a 24-hour hold until federal authorities arrive.
The four are suspected to be part of a national credit card crime ring and wanted for charges on a national level for similar crimes, he said.
Bob Jenkins, the mall's marketing director, said his office issued warnings to retailers before the Christmas season, a time known for an increase in forgeries and counterfeit money.
Jenkins said mall officials also suspect counterfeit $5 bills are in circulation this season. The poorly made duplicates sport an upside-down president and are easy to detect, he said.
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at mtodd@themeridianstar.com.

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