Police: SLC employee used customer accounts to buy, reload gift cards

Gift card fraud. (Photo: MGN)

(KUTV) — A female Kroger employee from Salt Lake City faces two felonies charges for allegedly using customers' accounts to purchase or reload gift cards for herself. According to court documents, she admitted to fraudulently spending $23,500.

Another Kroger employee, identified as Michelle Suazo, caught onto the fraudulent activity in April 2016, court documents state.

Suazo discovered that the 34-year-old suspect, identified as Tamara J. Sousa, would search the Kroger system for customers who had large amounts of money on Visa or gift cards, court documents state. Sousa would then forge invoices for the purchase of a gift card or reload an existing card.

According to court documents, Sousa would use customers' money to buy or reload gift cards. She would then use this money to make purchases for herself.

Suazo became privy to the scheme because several customers had complained that charges had been made to their cards that were not theirs, court documents state. Suazo investigated the matter and found that the customers' missing money had been used to for the scheme previously described.

It was then found out that the purchased or reloaded gift cards were linked to Sousa's Kroger loyalty number, court documents state. The scheme was found to have begun in June 2015 until Suazo caught and confronted Sousa.

Sousa admitted to police post-Miranda that she had indeed been fraudulently loading gift cards for the preceding 9 months, court documents state.

"Sousa said that, at first, she did it because she was a single mother and was having trouble with her finances," court documents state. "Sousa wrote out a full admission and estimated the total amount of money she fraudulently loaded onto gift cards and spent was $23,500.00."

Suazo documented that Kroger had processed charge-backs on $15,100 of that amount.

Sousa faces two second degree felonies — theft by deception and communications fraud.

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