West Chester liquor stores among targets in multi-state crime spree

UPDATE @ 3:30 p.m.: The five people accused of making $100,000 worth of purchases with fraudulent credit cards struck three West Chester Twp. businesses in July and August, according to police.

Bottles of alcohol were purchased at Giant Liquor on Cincinnati-Columbus Road and Beckett Wine & Liquor on Princeton-Glendale Road, according to West Chester Police reports.

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Electronic equipment was purchased in the same fraudulent manner at Laptop On Call on North Pavilion Drive, according to police.

West Chester Capt. Joe Gutman said the department was investigating all three cases when they were approached by the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office and asked to merge the cases, which resulted in the indictments.

FIRST REPORT:

Five people have been charged with theft and fraud after allegedly stealing more than $100,000 worth of merchandise with an invalid credit card from businesses located in Ohio and Kentucky.

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Police in the Cincinnati suburb of Greenhills this month impounded three trucks filled with stolen furniture purchased with an inactivated credit card. Police say the suspects also fraudulently purchased alcohol, electronics and vehicles from businesses located from West Chester Twp. to Northern Kentucky.

Greenhills Police Officer Zzachery Clark’s “good investigative instincts” led to the arrests, according to Police Chief Neil Ferdelman.

Clark followed up after a reported suspicious transaction at Bargains and Buyouts, a furniture store in Greenhills.

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The investigation revealed that the suspects have been going into stores to buy merchandise and when cashing out, they used a credit card that had not been loaded or activated.

Investigators said the suspects pretended to call the card issuer when their credit card wasn’t accepted and an accomplice on the phone gave cashiers a code number to force the transaction through.

The information to learn how to force these transactions is available on the Internet, according to police. Once the transaction is forced, the business usually will not know the transaction is fraudulent for up to 48 hours later.

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While conducting surveillance at the furniture store, Clark said he saw the suspects return with two rented U-Haul trucks. When the vehicles left the loading dock, Clark and undercover vehicles from Springfield Township Police Department followed.

The trucks split up, but were eventually stopped by officers. One group was stopped on the Norwood Lateral in Cincinnati, and the other group was confronted when they arrived at their destination at Race and Green Streets in Over-the-Rhine, where another U-Haul truck discovered.

All of the trucks were stacked full to their capacity with thousands of dollars’ worth of stolen furniture, according to Greenhills police.

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Using the fraudulent credit card scam, the suspects bought more than $100,000 worth of merchandise since June, including alcohol, more than a dozen vehicles from small car lots, furniture, electronics and even rented the trucks used in the furniture thefts, police said.

“This investigation serves as a reminder that merchants must be alert for new and innovative methods used by criminals to steal their merchandise,” Ferdelman said.

A Hamilton County grand jury returned indictments Sept. 14 against the following suspects in the crimes:

• Kevin Roberson of Cincinnati: 13 counts of felony theft and seven counts of felony telecommunications fraud

• Dionte Dorsey of Cincinnati: Five counts of felony theft and four counts of felony telecommunications fraud

• Jacqueline Collins of Cincinnati: One count of felony theft and one count of felony telecommunications fraud

• Ciarra Asbury of Cincinnati: One count of felony theft and one count of felony telecommunications fraud

• Jacinda Humphrey of Cincinnati: One count of felony theft and one count of felony telecommunications fraud

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