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Two arrested in parking lot sales scam ; Accused of trying to sell box filled with paper, saying it contains iPad

It looks like two teams used the same scam against shoppers in parking lots in recent months proving yet again that if a bargain looks too good to be true, that's probably the case.

Two Buffalo men were charged Thursday night with trying to sell a box filled with paper after claiming there was an iPad inside. The scam took place in a parking lot outside a Military Road business, Town of Niagara Police Chief H. James Suitor said Monday.

The two men accused of the crime -- Don Mumford, 54, and Jonathan A. Crosby, 51 -- are not the same two behind a rash of similar incidents that have been reported in recent months in shopping plaza parking lots in and around Niagara Falls, police said.

The cases could somehow be related, State Police Investigator Christopher Puckett said, but Mumford and Crosby are not the same men suspected in a rash of thefts from Canadian shoppers that took place between mid-August and Black Friday last month.

Two 49-year-old men are suspected in those thefts, Puckett said Monday, and a Niagara County grand jury is considering charges.

One of those men -- Clifford Brown, of Niagara Falls, has been in the county jail on $10,000 bail since he was arrested Dec. 7, following a Black Friday theft, and charged with fraudulent accosting and petit larceny, Puckett said.

A second suspect, from Buffalo, has not yet been charged.

Both men could face first-degree robbery counts, Puckett said. They are accused of stealing a total of $3,000 from Canadian shoppers by selling empty boxes they claimed held electronic merchandise. In one case, the investigator said, a woman was robbed at knifepoint when she tried to look in the box before handing over her cash.

"The two suspects [charged last week] don't resemble the descriptions given by all 10 of my victims and witnesses. I was shocked there was another [duo]," Puckett said.

However, he said, the packages are the same and the cases could somehow be related.

"[Mumford and Crosby] must have gotten involved earlier, because the packages are identical. The same newspapers, the same size, the Fed Ex packages, it's all identical," Puckett said.

Mumford and Crosby have refused to cooperate, he said.

"I assume they know these [other] guys," he said. "It would be impossible to assume that they had the exact same packages and they weren't working together."

Mumford was arrested after allegedly trying to sell an iPad that turned out to be a box filled with paper. Crosby was charged with trying to sell imitation gold jewelry, Suitor said.

e-mail: nfischer@buffnews.com

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