Published December 19. 2013 12:00PM Updated December 20. 2013 1:08AM
Westerly — A Norwich woman was arrested this week after police said she was involved in a credit card-skimming scheme that resulted in thousands of dollars in fraudulent purchases.
Shao Ting Zhu, 44, of 192 Summit St., Apt. 4, was charged Monday with theft of a credit card and two counts of fraudulent use of a credit card.
Westerly police said in early November, they received dozens of complaints from people who said fraudulent purchases were made on their credit cards. A majority of those were made at the Westerly Wal-Mart, and at the Macy’s and Wal-Mart in Warwick.
Police said spoke to a Washington Trust official Nov. 12, who said eight customers complained that their debit cards had been used illegally. The loss totaled $6,825.87, according to the police report.
The bank official said that after reviewing all the credit card statements, it was discovered that the only common link was that the cards were used at the China Buffet at 9 Airport Road.
Police on Nov. 14 executed a search-and-seizure warrant at the restaurant. During the search, police seized credit card scanners, computers, cash registers and other electronic equipment.
Police Chief Edward St. Clair said Zhu did not work at the restaurant. He could not comment further, as the investigation is ongoing and more arrests are expected.
Police said a loss prevention officer at Westerly Wal-Mart showed them surveillance video from the days when the illegal purchases were made. On one such day, Nov. 7 , the video shows an older Asian male make $400 in purchases. The same male then used a different credit card to make an additional $400 in purchases.
The same pattern is repeated at a different register, where the man made two separate $400 purchases.
The video surveillance then showed an Asian woman, who police would later identify as Zhu, making separate credit card purchases in the amount of $527.54, $500 and $320.89, respectively. She allegedly made a fourth transaction as well.
Police said a stocky Asian male also attempted to make a purchase of $699, but that credit card was declined.
One victim told police her credit card had been compromised — an unauthorized purchase had been made at Walmart.com for $884.29. The woman said she had gone to the China Buffet on Aug. 29.
Police also obtained surveillance video from Macy’s in Warwick. The same stocky Asian male and Zhu were spotted making what police said were fraudulent purchases. This time, however, police were able to get video of the car they were in, along with a license plate number that was registered to Zhu.
Connecticut State Police earlier this month arrested Zhu and held her as a fugitive of justice. State police said she admitted to using the credit cards at the Westerly Wal-Mart and at the Warwick Macy’s.
Zhu is out on bond and will be arraigned Jan. 3 at District Court 4th Division in Wakefield.