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Police arrest two for credit card fraud

Washington Square mall is targeted again by thieves

ZhaoTwo men have been arrested for using counterfeit credit cards at Washington Square, the third set of similar arrests in the past three months.

Yu Zou, 28, of San Gabriel, Calif., and Shenghua Zhao, 33, of Olympia, Wash., were arrested on Wednesday, Dec. 4, after going on a shopping spree at Washington Square mall and in Portland using fraudulent credit cards.

According to Jim Wolf, a spokesman with Tigard Police, a retailer in Salem contacted its sister-store at the mall to warn about possible fraudulent card purchases. The retailer relayed information and photos of the two men, after employees in Salem suspected them of using fraudulent credit cards at the store.

When employees in Tigard spotted the men not long after, they contacted Tigard Police, who began their investigation, Wolf said.

The two men reportedly purchased $1,645 worth of merchandise and giftcards from retailers at Washington Square before being arrested in Portland.

ZouThe two men face charges of identity theft and first-degree theft and are being held by customs and immigration officials.

This is the third similar crime reported by Tigard Police in the past three months.

Each case has involved California residents in their 20s and 30s allegedly making thousands of dollars worth of purchases at Washington Square mall using fake credit cards.

Xiaoling Cao, 29, of Monterey, Calif., Khailee Soong, 29, of Monterey Park, Calif., and Mengzhao Tu, 20, of Rosemead, Calif., were arrested in November on charges of payment card factoring, first-degree aggravated theft and aggravated identity theft after police claim they went on an $8,000 spending spree at Washington Square. The trio is also linked to about $150,000 worth of fraudulent credit card purchases in Oregon and California.

A month earlier, police arrested Xunhai Zheng, 33, and Jin Hua Lin, 22, after police followed the two men as they made $29,000 worth of fraudulent purchases at Washington Square and The Streets of Tanasbourne in Hillsboro, Wolf said. The two men are linked to more than $100,000 worth of fraud purchases across the Portland area.

Wolf said there is no indication of a connection between the incidents, but the area has seen an uptick in similar cases in the past few months.

“The general public is not aware of how prevalent this is right now,” Wolf said. “The use of counterfeit credit cards is plaguing the retail industry. But we have been fortunate — with information sharing among law enforcement and retailers. This is a great example of how those corroborations can work.”

Wolf said it’s unclear what has brought the increase in cases to Tigard.

“That is a question that law enforcement is unable to answer,” Wolf said. “We are not sure why, all of a sudden, people are coming up from California on these shopping sprees in the Northwest. Is it accessibility from (Interstate) 5? Is it the Northwest itself?”

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