Lincoln City responded to the Tanger Outlet Mall on a suspicious person call by a store clerk. The Manager of Zumiez reported that a male and female had just been in the store and had attempted to make a purchase with a Visa Gift Card that was declined when swiped through the store’s credit card machine. The manager reported that the male had tried to get him to enter the Visa number manually into their credit card machine. The manager refused and phoned the police as something just didn’t seem right.
Police Officers quickly located the male, 27 year old Donovan Stieff from North Dakota and began an investigation that led to Stieff being taken into custody on attempted theft charges. As police officers were investigating the call, they were contacted by other merchants of Outlet mall who reported that the couple had made charges and attempted to make charges using VISA Gift Cards. Upon further investigation, police located the female, 28 year old Samantha Rautanen of Arizona and the couple’s vehicle which was parked nearby. A search of the car and suspects produced numerous forged VISA Gift Cards. Numerous stolen credit card numbers and new merchandise that was purchased with the bogus cards in Lincoln City and Newport were also recovered.
Police were able to identify the victim merchants in Lincoln City, Newport, and at least one merchant in Washington County. Investigators learned all of the merchandise had been paid using counterfeit VISA Gift Cards. Lincoln City Police are working to identify the account holders of the stolen credit cards numbers and believe all of those victims live outside of Oregon. Detectives from The Oregon State Police, The Lincoln County Sheriff’s office and The Beaverton Police Department are assisting with the investigation.
Stieff and Rautanen were lodged in Lincoln County Jail and are being held on a charge of Aggravated Identity Theft. Their bail has been set at $250,000
Lincoln City Police encourages local businesses to be alert and report this type of activity. In this case the suspects were encouraging store employees to manually enter card numbers alleging the magnetic strip was defective. The request along with the suspects demeanor was a red flag to the store manager who alerted police and resulted in the arrest. It is apparent these suspects had been successful at numerous other business using this ploy.
Anyone with information about this case or businesses who think they were a victim of this fraud are asked to call Lincoln City Police at 541-994-3636.