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Police: Credit Card Scheme Team Busted

Suspects are accused of engaging in a multi-state scheme at Big Ys.

Two New York men were arrested Monday in connection with a multi-state credit card fraud scheme in which more than $8,000 in gift cards were illegally purchased from Big Y supermarkets. 

A Big Y loss prevention officer recognized the suspects, who police identified as Steve Bourne, 27, of Ozone Park, NY, and Charles Whitfield, 24, of Queens, NY,  from a police bulletin as they left the North Branford store.

Bourne and Whitfield were taken into custody at 3:30 p.m. a short distance from the store after an officer spotted a vehicle matching the description provided by the Big Y employee. When the officer stopped the vehicle, he reportedly smelled marijuana. A search of the vehicle uncovered stolen credit cards and marijuana, police said.

Bourne and Whitfield appear to be involved in a credit card scheme in which stolen credit card numbers were purchased from outside of the country and then encoded onto real credit cards, according to police. These cards were then reportedly used to purchase gift cards.

The men are suspected of being responsible for $8,000 worth of fraudulent charges at Big Y supermarkets across Massachusetts and Connecticut since January 2011, police said.  

Bourne was charged with 31 counts of credit card theft, 31 counts of conspiracy to commit illegal credit card use, sixth-degree larceny, illegal use of credit card and conspiracy to commit sixth-degree larceny. 

Whitfield was charged with 31 counts of credit card theft, 31 counts of conspiracy to commit illegal credit card use, sixth-degree larceny, illegal use of credit card, conspiracy to commit sixth-degree larceny, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and operating a motor vehicle without a license.

Both men were arraigned this morning at New Haven Superior Court and held on $25,000 bond.

The above arrest information was supplied by the North Branford Police Department. It does not indicate a conviction. For questions about this report, e-mail at jenn.mcculloch@patch.com.

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