Suspects Arrested In Attempted Fraud Incident

Thursday, January 17th 2008, 7:44 pm
By: News On 6

An off-duty police officer and a citizen help stop a gang accused of using bogus credit cards on a big shopping spree.   Investigators initially thought the four men might be terror suspects, but it appears that is no longer the case.  The News On 6's crime reporter Lori Fullbright reports police think the men are from New York, who flew to Oklahoma City on Tuesday and rented a car to drive to Tulsa.

The suspects hit the mall, and then went to Best Buy to buy a computer.  The problem, they were using bogus credit cards and unfortunately for them, a police officer was also shopping.

Wen Zou ended up in handcuffs because police say he and his buddies were using bogus credit cards at Best Buy.  Reports say they had three Visas, each with the name Wei Wang on them, but different account numbers.

The first two cards were denied, but the third one went through and that's when they decided to buy $2000 worth of gift cards.  That got the store manager's attention, which caused Zou to bolt from the store with his buddies to their SUV.

"By coincidence, Officer Spitler was off duty shopping and happened to be in the store in plain clothes. He gave chase, knowing something was going on and he chased this guy for like a mile until the suspect just ran out of gas," said Tulsa Police Sgt. Mark MacKenzie.

A citizen got the SUV's tag number and Officer Lance Eberle happened to be close and pulled it over.  Police say the men had thousands of dollars worth of purchases in the vehicle.  Records show all the information on the front of the credit cards was bogus, but the magnetic strip on the back. It checked to an actual account held by a Canadian bank.

"We're just trying to determine if there's a bigger picture out there.  If it's an international problem, cards being funneled in similar to other things, postal money orders.  Things are sending through, slipped into the country. There's not a tie to anything local, so why are they here? It appears they came to town to do transactions and leave," said Tulsa Police Sgt. Mark MacKenzie.

When officers ran the men through NCIC, two of them had a terrorist alert, but police now believe that is not a factor.  Sometimes, an alert can pop up on people with similar names or birthdates.

The men are being held for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to sort out their status.  This kind of fraud usually isn't caught up front, but later, when people get their credit card bills.