A West Manchester Township Police detective was at the right place at the right time last week and put a stop to what appears to be a fraudulent debit gift card ring.
Detective David Bixler was nearly the end of his shift July 11 when he stopped at Rutter's at 1590 Kenneth Road about 7:40 p.m. and saw a man leaving the store with two bags filled with cartons of Newport cigarettes.
"Based on a hunch that this doesn't seem right," Bixler said he kept his eyes on the man.
The man walked to a car parked in another part of the parking at West Gate Plaza, put the bags in the trunk and got into the car.
The car left, and Bixler said he radioed for officers to stop the car because of its heavily tinted windows.
An officer stopped the car nearby at Loucks Road and Route 30 and arrested four Philadelphia men in connection with purchases totaling just over $2,000, allegedly using fraudulent cards.
Arrested: Charged are Siakor Victor Gbawar, 35; Winston Toe Godfrey, 33; Sawoe Narmah, 30; and George Shorlee Nawuoh, 21, according to police.
Gbawar, Narmah and Nawuoh are each charged with conspiracy to commit access device fraud and conspiracy to commit theft by deception, according to online court documents.
Gbawar remains in York County Prison in lieu of $7,000 bail, Narmah is in prison on $20,000 bail and Nawuoh is free on $5,000 bail.
Godfrey is charged with access device fraud and theft by deception and remains in county prison in lieu of $10,000 bail.
All four men are originally from Liberia but currently reside in Philadelphia.
Purchases: Nawuoh told police that he was recruited by Narmah to drive the men from Philadelphia to the York area so they could purchase the cigarettes. Nawuoh was to be paid between $100 and $150 for the ride, according to charging documents.
Police alleged three of the men made individual trips into the store to purchase cigarettes that were then to be sold on the streets in Philadelphia, according to Godfrey's charging documents.
A store employee told police that each man used a number of cards and made multiple purchases, one of which totaled $251, documents state.
"It's a simple thing, and they're in and out (of the store)," Bixler said.
He said some of the cards were declined, so the accused men simply pulled out another card that was accepted.
Police recovered 17 fraudulent cards and $200 in counterfeit bills from the car, he said.
Police obtained a search warrant to scan the cards and found that while each had Visa or Mastercard logos, they were embedded with coding for a Discover card, Bixler said.
The detective said the cards were manipulated by altering the magnetic strip on the back to link to a Discover account.
- Reach Greg Gross at firstname.lastname@example.org.