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Gridley clerk defrauds customers
By Mary Weston/Staff Writer

Gridley-Biggs Police arrested a Yuba City man who used the numbers from debit and credit cards of mini-mart customers to dip into their bank accounts, according to police.

Jos Van Hout, a crime investigator from the Butte County District Attorney's Office, assisted the police in serving a search warrant on a clerk at the Fastrack Mini Market on Highway 99 in Gridley, according to a press release from the Gridley Police.

"He's an expert in the field, and that's why we had him assist us," said Lt. Brian Cook.

On Tuesday at 2:35 p.m., officers served the warrant and arrested Jaspal Singh, 19, of Yuba City for multiple counts of identity theft and theft by use of a debit or credit card, according to the press release.

"We encourage anyone who used a debit or credit card at the store since early April of 2005 to check their bank and credit card statements," Cook said in a telephone interview. "We believe there's more victims out there who don't know they've been defrauded."

Singh used customer's credit and debit card numbers to debit their accounts at the store, then he took an equivalent amount of money from the register, Cook said.

The investigation began about a month ago when victims began reporting unauthorized debits from their accounts from Fastrack. Police seized store receipts and bank documents. Officers also found a lap-top computer and store receipts inside the suspect's vehicle.

Singh had 76 credit card numbers in his wallet. A search of his Yuba City home led to the recovery of store receipts containing credit card numbers.

The police department has confirmed 13 victims with a loss of about $1,050 but think there are more. They encourage people who used a card to buy gas at the store to check their bank statements.

Anyone who is a victim can call Detective Hameed Khan or Sgt. Price who are investigating the case, (530) 846-5678. Singh was booked into the Butte County Jail.

Investigator Hout advises people to have a special credit card with a maximum $500 credit limit to use at restaurants, gas stations or retailers where employees could copy credit information.

The lower credit limit lowers the loss risk for the credit card holder as well as banks and merchants who might be liable for unauthorized purchases.

"This helps the merchant and the bank," Hout said.


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