Phony 'detectives' run credit card scam


Two con artists who claim to be Anne Arundel County detectives investigating credit-card misuse apparently have devised a scam targeting Asians, county police said yesterday.

In the last week, the men have called four restaurants, three owned by Asians, and claimed to be investigating credit-card fraud in Maryland, Virginia and Washington. They requested names, numbers and expiration dates on credit-card receipts.

Workers at the Grand Palace Restaurant in the 5700 block of Ritchie Highway in Brooklyn Park, and the Sunset Restaurant and Lounge in the 600 block of Greenway S.E. and Ying's Restaurant in the 6600 block of Ritchie Highway, both in Glen Burnie, supplied the information to the bogus detectives, said Detective Ronald Hines, a police spokesman.

William Ng, owner of the Jade Garden Restaurant in the 7600 block of Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard, refused to cooperate and notified police Tuesday.

Detective Hines said one of the men poses as "Detective Robert Smith" and that the other claims to be his captain.

"Detective Smith" called Mr. Ng about noon Tuesday and pretended to have a list of suspects who had used fraudulent credit cards in his restaurant over the weekend. "Detective Smith" then asked Mr. Ng to give him customer information from his credit card receipts. When Mr. Ng asked questions to verify the man's identity, the man put a second man on the line who claimed to be the "detective's" captain, police said.

The "captain" told Mr. Ng to answer the questions and cooperate. Several other businesses had already cooperated, the caller said. When Mr. Ng asked why they didn't send a detective or officer to his restaurant, the "captain" -- who used no name -- told him they were too busy and would send someone later. Mr. Ng called county police.

The pair called the owners of the Sunset Restaurant and the Grand Palace before they called Mr. Ng, Detective Hines said. Tony Yan, owner of Ying's, told police that the pair called him Thursday or Friday and told him they would send a detective at 4 p.m. No one came.

Police said that so far they have found no instances of the credit-card information being used by the bogus detectives, but they are still checking.

Detective Hines said there is no Detective Robert Smith on the county police force and that business owners should not provide anyone with credit-card information. Anyone who gets such calls should dial 911 and have a uniformed officer take a report, Detective Hines said.

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