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Six Calgarians charged in convenience store lottery purchase scam

RCMP Southern Alberta District’s Crime Reduction Unit lays charges and issues warrants for arrest on numerous Calgary residents
The Sundre RCMP detachment received 88 calls for service from Jan. 1 to Jan. 15.,
File photo/MVP Staff

The RCMP’s Southern Alberta District Crime Reduction Unit has laid numerous fraud charges against multiple individuals from Calgary following an investigation into a series of scams that targeted convenience stores in five Alberta communities.

The specialized RCMP unit, in partnership with Raymond RCMP as well as the Western Canada Lottery Corporation, reportedly led an investigation into a series of crimes that involve a technique known as the manual entry transaction fraud, police said in a statement issued Wednesday.

The crimes were said to have targeted small business convenience stores between Dec. 31, 2023 and Feb. 26, 2024 in Raymond, Lethbridge, Vegreville, Two Hills and Sundre.

Police described the manual entry credit card scam as involving a suspect entering a retailer and then requesting $5,000 in Sports Select tickets as well as $1,000 in Keno, the maximum allowable limit within a 24-hour period.

The suspect or suspects will then request credit card payment and check to see if the terminal will allow for manual entry.

“If it does, they enter a memorized Mastercard credit card number that does not match the card entered,” police said.

“The transaction will go through as approved, but since the actual credit card is not present at the time of purchase in the machine itself, the bank will upon notification of the cardholder dispute reverse the charges and charge back the retailer.”

This process does not happen immediately and might take upwards of several weeks. Upon determining if a retailer’s terminal allows for manual entry, the suspect then purchases additional prepaid credit cards and gift cards along with scratch-and-win tickets.

The RCMP also reported that most retailers admitted that the transactions seemed unusual, but proceeded to sell anyway until a call ends up being placed by the Western Canada Lottery Corporation to the retailer inquiring about the payment made on these purchases.

In the April 17 press statement, police announced that a search warrant had been executed on Tuesday, March 19 by the Crime Reduction Unit in the 2000 block of 34th Street SW in Calgary.

As a result of the investigation, the following were charged in connection with the series of crimes:

Jay Obrador and Maynard Go Recibio, both said to be residents of Calgary, were charged with fraud of more than $5,000; being in possession of or trafficking in credit card data; and laundering proceeds of crime.

Additionally, Melody Velasquez, Jessica Nyome Vinje, Angelo Ross Diaz, and Rommel Manansala Togado, also all reportedly residents of Calgary, were charged with fraud of more than $5,000 and being in possession of or trafficking in credit card data.

Obrador was scheduled for an appearance in Lethbridge court on April 24, while the five other accused are currently on warrant status.

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