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Fraud suspect tries to recover personal info by 'bear hugging' clerk

NIAGARA FALLS – A customer service employee at the Tops International store on Niagara Falls Boulevard told police that a man "bear-hugged" her Friday night after she copied down his personal information from what turned out to be a phony credit card.

The victim, 23, told police that around 10 p.m., the man tried to purchase several gift cards with a credit card and was told he would need to show identification to complete the purchase. He provided a driver's license that was flimsy and "visibly fake," the woman told police, along with a credit card in a woman's name hand-printed on it and with no numbers. Realizing it was phony, the clerk jotted down the personal information on the card.

The sale was declined and the man tried to grab the slip upon which the clerk had been writing. In the process, he "bear-hugged" the woman, she said, but she screamed and kicked at the man's sensitive areas, according to reports. The commotion attracted the attention of a retired police officer nearby, who came to the woman's aid.

The suspect fled the store after accusing the victim of trying to "steal" his credit card.

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