An Oakland man who worked for an authorized Verizon dealer in North Berkeley has been charged with a dozen felonies after using the credit card numbers of elderly customers to rack up thousands of dollars in fraudulent fees, according to court papers.
The employee, identified by the Berkeley Police Department as 28-year-old Demario Jackson, used the cellphones of five elderly customers to email or text himself their personal and credit card information while ostensibly helping them at the shop, at 1831 Solano Ave. (at Colusa Avenue), according to court records.
One of the customers is an 86-year-old who has macular degeneration and cannot see. After he left the shop, police say Jackson used three of the man’s credit cards to make $3,700 in fraudulent charges. Another customer, identified by police as a 76-year-old stroke patient, had a charge of more than $1,200 on her credit card after Jackson used her phone to text himself her credit card and identification information, according to court documents. An 82-year-old woman helped by Jackson found more than $1,000 in fraudulent charges on her card.
Police said, in court documents, they found the personal identification of more than 53 people on Jackson’s phone after getting a search warrant to seek evidence of fraud and identity theft in the case. In Jackson’s email, police also found a receipt for a purchase that had been made with the 86-year-old’s credit card.
The Verizon shop on Solano Avenue is an authorized retailer owned by a company named Victra, not a Verizon corporate-owned store. Berkeleyside attempted to reach Victra for comment on Friday but was unsuccessful. A Solano Avenue staffer who declined to comment on the case said Jackson no longer works at the shop.
According to police, the investigation began in mid-April when the 86-year-old man with macular degeneration went to the Verizon shop to upgrade his phone to allow for voice activation. Jackson, the only employee in the shop, helped the man, police wrote. The 86-year-old gave Jackson three of his credit cards, as well as his phone, so Jackson could buy a voice activation plan and install it, according to police.
After the visit, there were fraudulent charges on all three of the man’s credit cards, police wrote. The man’s wife later found a deleted email that had been sent from her husband’s phone while he was at the Verizon shop. The man “does not know how to email from his phone nor can he see well enough to do so,” police wrote.
Officers arrested Jackson at the Solano Avenue Verizon shop on April 30 on suspicion of identity theft, elder abuse and other crimes, according to court documents. He admitted to police that he emailed himself the customer’s credit card numbers, expiration dates and security codes, police wrote. Initially, Jackson was held on $950,000 bail.
Police said in court papers that they also spoke with 10 people whose information Jackson had. They all said Jackson did not have their permission to have those details, according to police.
The Alameda County district attorney’s office charged Jackson on May 2 with 12 felonies and one misdemeanor in connection with five victims. Charges include identity theft, the fraudulent transfer of information and theft from an elder or dependent adult.
According to court papers, Jackson has one felony conviction, from 2010, for grand theft of personal property.
Jackson is set to return to court June 4 to enter a plea. He was released on his own recognizance, according to court records online.