Deputies arrest alleged phone thief masquerading as fast food re - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Richland deputies arrest alleged phone thief masquerading as fast food restaurant employee

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Johnny Alston (Source: Richland County) Johnny Alston (Source: Richland County)
Raheem Scott (Source Richland County) Raheem Scott (Source Richland County)
RICHLAND COUNTY, SC (WIS) -

The Richland County Sheriff's Department has arrested a man they say was masquerading as a fast food employee so he could steal phones from people he lured to restaurants using mobile apps for buying and selling.

Johnny Alston, 21, and an alleged accomplice, Raheem Scott, 22, face charges after deputies set up a sting last week at an area restaurant.

The elaborate scheme, according to deputies, started with Alston getting jobs at at least three area restaurants in order to get his hands on a uniform and once he had the uniform, he would stop showing up for work at that particular location. Then he would set up an exchange using a variety of mobile apps to buy someone's personal property at a different location of that same chain so he could pose as an employee, deputies said.

After setting an appointment using "Letgo" or "Offer Up," Alston, according to deputies, would meet the victims in the parking lot wearing his uniform. During the meeting deputies said he'd ask to use the victim's cell phone and give them as excuse that he needed to go inside to get something. He'd then go into the restaurant and then leave out another door, investigators said.

Alston and Scott would then try to sell the phone on Craigslist for $300, deputies said.

Investigators, after identifying both suspects, set up at one of the restaurants and arrested Alston when they saw him trying to steal someone's phone. They later arrested Scott.

The Richland County Sheriff's Department would not release any of the restaurant names or locations.

The sheriff's department is using this example as a reminder to be mindful of scams and people trying to steal from you. Should you set up an exchange through an online service or any other way, remember you can use the Richland County Sheriff’s Department's ‘Safe Exchange” locations at Region Headquarters. "It’s always better to be safe then to become a victim," Sheriff Leon Lott said. 

Other Midlands department have set up similar areas for these types of transactions.

If you know anyone or feel you have been a victim, you are urged to come forward. To receive money for information leading to the arrest of the persons responsible, contact Crimestoppers in any of the following ways: Call 1-888-CRIME SC (888-274-6372), Text TIPSC plus your tip info to CRIMES (274637), visit www.midlandscrimestoppers.com and email a tip. Your identity will be kept anonymous, and if your tip leads to an arrest, you could be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000.


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