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Secret Service Hunts For 'Person Of Interest' In Gas Station Fraud

SIERRA MADRE (CBS) — Police on Thursday released a photo of a "person of interest" being sought who withdrew money from a Montebello ATM using information fraudulently obtained at a Sierra Madre gas station where more than 280 victims have been victimized, with losses totaling more than $82,000.

Investigators from the U.S. Secret Service have joined with Sierra Madre police in working to solve the case, Elisa Weaver of the city of Sierra Madre said.

EVG Quality Gas at 50 S. Baldwin Ave. was the common thread in each case, police said. On Dec. 27, a woman told police she that someone stole her credit identity after she used a credit card at the station. Within a week, police got another 175 reports of fraud linked to the business, police said.

To date, 282 victims have contacted police, Weaver said. The grainy photo was taken on Dec. 30, and shows a man withdrawing money from an ATM in Montebello, Weaver said. His description was unclear.

Most of the crimes involved a single fraudulent transaction for an amount less than $200, police said. Most of the multiple-transaction cases involved ATM and retail transactions, police said.

The largest single loss was $3,782.

Detectives have served a search warrant at an undisclosed location in connection with the crimes and were questioning people.

The EVG Gas station has been closed by the owner, who apparently has left the area, police said.

Police urged people who used credit or debit cards at the station to check their accounts dating back to June and to notify police of any suspicious activity. Anyone with information on the case was urged to call Sierra Madre police at (626) 355-1414.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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