When two men stood at the Kroger self-checkout line Saturday afternoon, swiping a credit card over and over, trying to buy a bulk of gift cards, store Manager Mike Piatt recognized the drill. He had seen it five days earlier.
On Oct. 28, 24-year-old Frantz Raphel LaMarre and 22-year-old DeShawn Gregory Orr walked into Piatt's store, located at 1205 N. Glenwood Ave. They grabbed gift cards and attempted to pay for them with another card.
That one looked fine. But according to police, the back of the card held a magnetic strip that someone cloned to match another person's credit card. In other words, LaMarre and Orr allegedly were buying gift cards and charging the purchase to some other person -- in this case, a person from North Carolina.
As they did this, Dalton police already were looking into the case. A Woodfin, N.C., resident had noticed mysterious charges from the Kroger at 1365 W. Walnut Ave., and the resident called the local police, and a detective from Woodfin called officers in Dalton.
Then, as a detective went to that Kroger, police got a call from the other Kroger, Piatt's store. The manager spotted LaMarre and Orr acting suspicious, and he stopped them. When officers arrived, they discovered that the men were using fake cards.
LaMarre and Orr, both from New York, were arrested on charges of identity theft and financial transaction fraud. Both men remained in jail Monday without a bond, according to Whitfield County Jail records.
So then, on Saturday, when Piatt noticed two more men trying to buy nine gift cards, he again called police. According to an arrest report, two other employees walked up to 21-year-old Ladaveon Alshawn Brown and 18-year-old Nicholas Elijah Trammel near the self-checkout aisle, and the men took off.
They hopped in a Ford F-150 and drove away from the store. But according to police, officers stopped them soon after. Inside, they found two more people. Police say Shabeyon Shamone Newsome, 24, served as the group's lookout, and that 18-year-old Olivia Nicole Clark was the getaway driver.
Police charged all four Forest Park, Ga., residents with forgery of a financial transaction card and conspiracy to commit a felony. Officers also charged Clark with possession of marijuana and crossing the guard line.
All four remained in jail Monday. Brown, Newsome and Trammell were being held without bond, according to Whitfield County Jail records, and Clark was held in lieu of $15,000 bond.
Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or firstname.lastname@example.org.