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Shop, Police Team Up to Stop Fraud Suspect

Published May 9, 2010

FAR HILLS, NJ (BRAIN)—After falling victim to credit card fraud two years ago, staff at The Sports People in Far Hills, New Jersey has been vigilant. That awareness paid off when one of the credit card scammers was arrested and charged following a sting operation when he attempted to rip off the store for a second time.

On April 27, Jose Antonio Sigueira, 47, was charged with attempted grand theft and violation of Florida’s Communications Fraud Act, a scheme to defraud using electronic media or telephone—both low-level felonies, according to sergeant Amy Ameye of the Orlando Police Department’s economic crimes unit.

Jonathan Nabut, general manager of The Sports People, said two years ago, the suspect ordered two high-end road bikes via telephone—a Cervelo and a Look—with top-of-the-line spec valued just under $10,000. The suspect posed as a knowledgeable customer who had been in the shop before and provided a credit card number and phone to call to get a security code, which pushes the charge through. But after the bikes shipped overnight to an address in Florida, the charges were denied, he said.

Nabut said that when the shop got a similar phone call from a person requesting to purchase two high-end bikes for shipment to Florida on April 24, his ears perked up. He contacted the Far Hills Police Department, which got in touch with Sgt. Ameye since the shipping address was a Hyatt hotel in Orlando.

Nabut said the shop supplied Orlando police details of the transaction that involved two bikes priced at $8,659, including credit card number, shipping address, UPS tracking numbers, and phone numbers and email the alleged suspect provided. Instead of shipping the bikes, The Sports People shipped a bike box weighted with rocks and another smaller box since Sigueira had ordered high-end pedals, according to the police report. When Sigueira arrived at the hotel to pick up his shipment, he was intercepted by the Orlando police, which determined after questioning that he along with an accomplice had provided a stolen credit card number and bogus security override code to obtain the bikes, according to the report.

Sgt. Ameye said that others may be involved, but only Sigueira, who posted bond, has been identified. “We’ll put an alert out on a few different servers and have partnered up with people at retail to see if anyone knows anything about this, but I don't have hope we’ll make another case,” Sgt. Ameye said, adding that Orlando police was going to conduct further investigation on the suspect.

“We’re not going to make whole on that first time,” Nabut said. “But at least we hoped to put this guy away so he doesn’t keep doing this. If this guy hadn’t called us again, that would have been the end of it. But they tried it again. They might be figuring bike shops have high turnover, so staff might not be aware. But not here. This is a family business with the same owner for 35 years. And this is the type of thing you don’t forget.”

Nabut said the shop’s trying to build awareness. He thinks the fraud isn’t an isolated case and other retailers could have been victims. “If other retailers have been scammed, we hope they come forward,” he said.

-Lynette Carpiet

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