Fraud spree ends at Sam's Club in Frazer, police say
A $3,000 shopping spree at the Sam's Club in Frazer appears to have been the last stop for two men accused of racking up tens of thousands of dollars in fraudulent charges at stores from Florida to Pennsylvania.
Police arrested Lazaro Perez, 36, of Miami after they say he and another man used stolen credit and gift cards to make purchases at Sam's Club on Wednesday and Thursday. According to police, the men are suspected of using the bogus cards to make $28,000 worth of purchases at Sam's Club stores in multiple states on the East Coast.
Police have a warrant for the arrest of Yamil A. Ramos Pages, also of Miami, who they say security camera images show was with Perez in the Frazer Sam's Club. Pages has not been located.
Frazer police Chief Terry Kuhns said the men apparently tried to use multiple cards to make purchases Thursday before finally getting a card that was accepted by the store's computer. Store employees became suspicious and followed the men out of the store after calling police.
The employees told police they saw the men bury something in leaves behind the store. At that spot, police say, they found a wallet containing dozens of gift cards and a driver's license for Pages. But, instead of taking it, police put the wallet back where they found it and waited.
Then, late Thursday afternoon, police say they watched as Perez retrieved the wallet. When police approached, he fled but was arrested after a short chase across the mall's parking lot.
Police say Perez was carrying a Florida ID card and his photo matched surveillance photos taken by Sam's Club.
A U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement agent from Pittsburgh had to be brought in to translate for Perez, who apparently doesn't speak English.
Abut two hours after his arrest, Perez agreed to call Pages to ask him to drive to Pittsburgh Mills mall but Pages didn't answer.
Perez is charged with multiple counts of theft by deception, conspiracy and access devise fraud.
Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4711 or at [email protected].