A 19-year-old man stole credit card swiping devices from a Brooklyn Park bowling alley, allowing his cohorts to run off more than 250 unauthorized refunds that drained the business of nearly $200,000, according to federal charges.
Michael U. Cole Jr., of Brooklyn Park, also is accused in federal court in Minneapolis of stealing or trying to steal the same type of device (known as a point of sale machine, or POS) from other retail businesses in the Twin Cities.
Cole was charged by summons in what’s called an information, signaling that he intends to plead guilty to the allegation.
According to prosecutors:
Cole stole POS machines from the Brunswick Zone XL on Brooklyn Boulevard, and they were used from late July through much of August of 2014 to submit 251 unauthorized refunds to the co-conspirators’ debit and credit card accounts, totaling $199,441.26.
The transactions were carried out at the home of Bobbie Jean Martin, who pleaded guilty last week to conspiracy to commit access device fraud. Martin has yet to be sentenced.
On Aug. 18 and 19, 2014, additional POS machines were stolen, and 26 unauthorized refunds were made totaling $16,400.
For the next few days afterward, the conspirators made the rounds, succeeding or trying but failing to steal POS machines at businesses in Eden Prairie and Blaine and at a Twin Cities restaurant.
In exchange for his crimes, Cole was paid by two other co-conspirators with cash, food, movie tickets and clothing.
A message has been left with Cole’s attorney Wednesday seeking a response to the accusations.