Brian Herbert believes a credit card theft ring targeted him and nearly got away Wednesday with at least $15,000 in jewelry and other items ordered over the Internet.
Herbert, owner of Last Stop Computers in Tacoma, wasn’t about to let that happen.
With Herbert’s help and that of his two sons, Tacoma police arrested a 23-year-old California woman who allegedly used Herbert’s credit card to order the jewelry and other items.
Herbert said he didn’t know his card was being abused until the bank called Tuesday, alerting him to the $15,000-plus in charges with a woman’s name attached. The bank told him approval for the purchases had been declined, but that turned out to be wrong.
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The seller would deliver the items only to the address connected to the credit card, so the woman had them delivered by UPS to Herbert’s business. When the packages arrived, she was waiting there, police said.
Herbert became suspicious Wednesday when he saw a UPS truck driver talking to a woman in front of his business on Sixth Avenue.
He found out later she’d come from Sea-Tac Airport and apparently had been sitting near his business in a limousine for a couple of hours, waiting for the truck.
He walked over to the driver. When he found out the name on the packages was the same as the name the bank gave him, he got angry.
“You are going to jail,” Herbert said he told the woman.
She denied doing anything wrong and got back into the limo, Herbert said. He stood in front of the limo and called police. The limo driver also called police and said a man who appeared to have a gun pointed at him wouldn’t let him drive away.
No police immediately showed up, so the woman got out of the limo and started walking up Sixth Avenue, Herbert said. She was talking on her cell phone while she walked.
Herbert’s two sons followed her. Seeing them, the woman began trying to get a ride by pounding on passing cars, claiming two men were chasing her.
Finally one of the sons called police to say there was a robbery in progress. Officers showed up almost immediately, Herbert said.
After everyone was brought back to the computer shop, the officers sorted out what had happened and arrested the woman. She was booked into the Pierce County Jail on a first-degree theft charge.
Police spokesman Mark Fulghum said he couldn’t say for sure if a major credit card theft ring was operating in the area.
Herbert thinks the woman, who had an airline ticket to California in her luggage, was sent to the area to pick up stolen items.
“If she did it to me, she did it to 10 other people and they don’t know it yet,” he said.