Police look at Belfast scam allegations

By Abigail Curtis, BDN Staff
Posted Sept. 03, 2010, at 10:38 p.m.

BELFAST, Maine — Local police are investigating two alleged scam artists who recently surfaced in the city.

One is a 19-year-old man now in Orlando, Fla., who police say stole nearly $500 worth of goods and merchandise on July 3 from the Circle K convenience store and thousands of dollars in goods and services in Maine, New Hampshire and Florida.

The man, whom police did not identify, was caught on the store’s video camera buying nearly $500 worth of Visa gift cards, gasoline and scratch tickets. He paid for the purchases with a reloadable Discover credit card, according to Detective Bryan Cunningham of the Belfast Police Department.

When the man had some trouble with the card being accepted by the machine, the employee manually entered the information, and the sale was approved, Cunningham said.

Two weeks later, store officials found that the card apparently had been stolen and never activated by the card issuer, nFinanSe. The man apparently had discovered a way to illegally “reload” the credit card, Cunningham said Friday afternoon.

Belfast police made a photo of him available on an interagency system and an Augusta police officer called saying that a similar-looking man had done the same thing there. That officer made a positive identification earlier this week, Cunningham said.

According to the card issuer and area police reports, the man has used the credit card scam to purchase a car in Manchester, N.H., and to stay at hotels in Maine and Florida, racking up thousands of dollars in charges.

Cunningham said he was in the process of getting an affidavit prepared to issue a warrant for the suspect’s arrest.

The other alleged scammer is Lisa McFarlin, 44, of Bridgton, who allegedly stole a pair of new shoes by deception from Renys department store.

Belfast police issued a warrant Wednesday for her arrest on charges of theft by deception and violation of conditions of release.

Store video cameras reportedly taped McFarlin entering Renys empty-handed on Aug. 9 and then picking up a shoe box in the store and bringing it to the service desk. She allegedly returned the shoes with no purchase receipt, saying they did not fit her correctly.

McFarlin then found another pair of $70 shoes in her size and signed the exchange receipt for the transaction, walking out of the store with what appeared to be a legal pair of shoes, according to a Belfast Police Department official.

When her female companion reportedly tried to “return” two different-sized clogs, both made for the left foot, the service desk worker became suspicious, Detective Bryan Cunningham said Wednesday. The shoes apparently had been on display in the store, he said.

The companion, whose last name also was McFarlin but who was not otherwise identified to police, allegedly created a scene after her exchange was denied. Store workers soon contacted the Belfast Police Department. The companion was not charged with any violations.

http://bangordailynews.com/2010/09/03/news/police-look-at-belfast-scam-allegations/ printed on April 21, 2014