Smith's clerk charged in refund scheme

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Crime > Police say customers lost hundreds of dollars when returning items

By Tris DeRoma

A Smith’s grocery store worker is under arrest for allegedly operating a refund scheme that bilked customers of the Los Alamos store out of hundreds of dollars.
In May, the store’s loss prevention department determined that a store clerk, Pamela J. Chacon, 43, had defrauded numerous customers out of hundreds of dollars by claiming unclaimed refunds for herself. Police were called, and Chacon was charged with one felony count of embezzlement.
“ ... Ms. Chacon had been refunding customer purchases when they did not use their Smith’s card and keeping the money for herself,” police said in the report.
According to store detectives, Chacon had taken about $554.98 since January by the time they caught on to what was happening. The last known fraudulent transaction was May 18, store personnel said in the report.
When confronted by store management, Chacon said she did it because she got into some financial problems, according to court documents. She also agreed to pay the money back.
During an interview with police, she said her financial troubles began when she took out $400 loan to pay for a truck. When it grew to $900 because of interest charges, that’s when she started embezzling from the store, she told police.
After she was processed in court, she was released on her own recognizance. Her first court appearance in magistrate court is scheduled for 10:15 a.m. June 10.
When contacted about the incident, and whether there were going to be any changes to the store’s refund policy, store management said they had no comment.
“The incident is still under investigation, so we have no comment on the matter,” said an on-duty manager at the store.