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How Vernon merchants brought down a scam artist

Ziba and Fareed Lor are glad they acted fast when a suspicious shopper entered their store.
April 22, 2013 - 2:05 PM

The owners of a local jewelery store didn't want to make any assumptions about a customer who dropped $4,000 on a ring after looking at it for only a few minutes.

"But for a $4,000 ring, usually you take a bit more time," Ziba Lor says. Lor owns Gold N Time, a jewelery store located on 30 Ave. near Bookland, with her husband Fareed.

On April 18, they were victims of a scam which had already hit merchants throughout the Okanagan, and the Lower Mainland as well, police believe.

But the Lors did something no one else did—they snapped into action and stopped the man from continuing his fraudulent shopping spree.

After the suspect quickly decided on a ring to buy for his girlfriend, another red flag went up for the Lors. His credit card didn't work properly. He said the magnetic strip was damaged and quickly suggested the number be taken down manually.

"He was very convenient in bypassing the security measures. He was comfortable to do something the average customer does not," Fareed says.

The Lors asked for the man's ID, and photocopied it, before completing the transaction.

"His photo was on them, it was him," Fareed says. "All the numbers were correct."

The man left the store, letting the Lors know he might be back to buy a gold chain.

"He was showing interest in a $3,000 chain. He had a gold chain on his wrist. He was obviously a gold lover, so I knew he'd be back," Fareed says.

In the meantime, the Lors got in touch with Visa. While the process was long and somewhat painstaking, they eventually determined that the name and the cards didn't match.

"That's when I called 911," Fareed says. "We were about 90 per cent sure it was fraud, but not positive."

Cops took position along the street, waiting for the man to return. A constable got in touch with Visa as well, something Fareed says was a great help.

About two hours later, the suspect came back. There were customers in the store, and he didn't come in.

A little later on, he approached the store again.

"They got him at the corner," Fareed says. "He wasn't even expecting it. He was trying to act as if all was normal."

The police cuffed him, and later searched his motel room where they found an array of forged documents.

The Lors say they have to be on guard constantly to protect themselves from incidents like this.

"It's the nature of the business," Fareed says. We have to always be careful. Fortunately, living in a smaller town, we know most of our customers. Once in a while though, you do get out of town, legitimate, customers, and that's not out of the ordinary."

"You don't want to judge people based on a few odd things like that," Ziba adds.

Luckily, the Lors went with their gut.

"If we'd waited another day, or even until the end of the day, it would be too late. He would be long gone," Fareed says.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infotelnews.ca or call (250)309-5230.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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