Allentown
72° F
Scattered Clouds
Scattered Clouds

Alert store clerk helps police crack fraud scheme

By Jennifer Joas, Reporter, JJoas@wfmz.com
Published On: Mar 31 2014 02:38:25 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 31 2014 10:20:17 PM CDT

Crystal Lee Torres, 25, and Terrell Pickering, 19, are at the center of a fraud scheme in Berks County.

RICHMOND TWP., Pa. -

Crystal Lee Torres, 25, and Terrell Pickering, 19, are at the center of a fraud scheme in Berks County.

Police were first alerted Friday afternoon, after Torres allegedly tried to purchase a carton of cigarettes at the Hess Express in Richmond Township.

"The clerk there reported to police that someone had tried to purchase a carton of cigarettes with a fraudulent or stolen credit card. She declined the sale and the suspects left the area northbound on 222," said Fleetwood Police Chief Steven Stinsky.

Police immediately started searching the area north of Hess Express and ended up stopping the duo in Maxatawny Township.

That is when police say they noticed several American Express Gift Cards as well as two trash bags filled with cartons of cigarettes on the back seat.

Torres and Pickering were arrested.

Police say they later found out the magnetic strips on those cards were linked with other bank accounts in the U.S. and Canada.

Police say this was not the only convenience store the couple hit up.

They went to 11 different stores across Berks and Schuylkill counties and if it was not for the cashier, they may have never been caught.

"The clerk was very alert. When the card was swiped to consummate the sale, the cash register receipt printed out," said Stinsky. "Those last four digits on the printed receipt did not match the digits that were printed on the card. So they knew the card was altered."

Police say in one day's work the duo bought 31 cartons of cigarettes totaling $2,100.

The couple allegedly planned to re-sell them on the streets of New York City.

Both Torres and Pickering are in the Berks County Jail on $50,000 bail each.

They each face several charges in different jurisdictions including receiving stolen property.