Police charge two men with fraud to local businesses and believe there may be additional victims

Lethbridge Police have charged two Medicine Hat men in connection with a series of fraudulent transactions at local businesses.

Over the past week, with the assistance of the Medicine Police Service, members of the LPS Economic Crimes Unit have been investigating subjects using fraudulent credit cards to purchase or attempt to purchase items. The transactions involved the subjects attempting to use an admin card to manipulate the point of sale terminal, cards with no banking or financial labelling associated to them and manually entering credit card numbers. Transactions ultimately display as approved, but the merchant will later be informed the card number is not valid.

On July 14, 2016 police located the subjects in U-Haul vehicle that had been associated to them, but they refused to stop and fled from officers. The suspect vehicle was located a short time later in a south side parking area and the subjects were arrested without further incident. During a subsequent search police recovered a small quantity of cocaine and drug paraphernalia, numerous credit and debit cards, a written list of what appears to be credit card numbers, receipts and an assortment of property including electronics, liquor, cigarettes and more.

Police believe the subject attended the city with the sole purpose of defrauding businesses. At this time, the subjects have been charged in connection with fraud/attempted fraud at three local businesses and in an effort to identify any other establishments they may have attended and defrauded, their photos are included for release. Any staff members who recognize them are asked to contact police at 403-328-4444.

Police are also reminding merchants to adhere to transaction best practices for all debit and credit card purchases:
     -Maintain visual contact with customers using handheld point of sale terminals.
     -Do NOT allow customers to manually enter their own credit card numbers into the machine.
     -Do NOT accept any credit card numbers for purchase without obtaining the three-digit security number from the back of the credit card. The best practice for merchants is to only process credit card transactions when an actual credit card is used in the point of sale terminal.

James Robert Stuart, 27, of Medicine Hat, is charged with breach of a recognizance, flight from a peace officer, possession of stolen property, fraud and two counts of attempted fraud.

Nicholas Dwaine Belanger, 27, of Medicine Hat, is charged with possession of a controlled substance (cocaine), possession of stolen property, attempted fraud and fraud.

Both men made their first court appearance this morning and were remanded in custody. They next appear in court Wednesday.