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Crime Trackers: Ex-con scamming major retailers - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

Crime Trackers: Ex-con scamming major retailers

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Tucson police detectives say 62-year-old Cedric Pierce has been going all over Tucson saying he's with a non-profit organization and wants to return merchandise without a receipt. Tucson police detectives say 62-year-old Cedric Pierce has been going all over Tucson saying he's with a non-profit organization and wants to return merchandise without a receipt.
TUCSON - A convicted con artist is using the name of well known non-profit organizations to scam major retailers.

Tucson police detectives say 62-year-old Cedric Pierce has been going all over Tucson saying he's with a non-profit organization and wants to return merchandise without a receipt.

His name and picture came up at the monthly Retail Theft meetings held at Operations Division West. 

"He always comes to the business empty handed, and selects items from the shelves and goes and does an exchange without a receipt," said Detective Olga Ramirez. "Most of the time, he would receive a gift card. He would in turn exchange the gift card for cash at another location."

She added, Pierce would always call the store first, tell them he was representing the nonprofit organization and give them the name of the manager saying he had already spoken to them about the issue.

Police said the 62-year-old Pierce also used his girlfriend 32-year-old Cathi Magallanes in the scam.

Detective Ramirez said his crime spree goes back to August. She's documented 15 stores he conned out of thousands of dollars. 

"As far north as Oro Valley, Marana and I think one of his last incidents was Green Valley," she said.

Teen Challenge was among the many non-profit organizations he named when police say he carried out his scam. Teen Challenge is a non-profit organization that is faith-based residential treatment facility. They've been in Tucson 50 years and are very successful. When they heard that Cedric Pierce was using their name, the center director said, "It saddens my heart that there's a desperate guy out there who has felt the need to use our name."

Jon Ellingson said they had received calls from stores regarding this.

"We keep our receipts and all that so obviously that's not something we're going to do," said Ellingson.

He added, this does make it difficult for non-profits who are here to help people. In their case they take people with severe issues, "And they're able to go back into the community and be a positive influence."

The couple was arrested and charged with organized retail theft, trafficking in stolen property and fraud.

Pierce is a convicted felon who has spent time in prison for fraud.

When he was arrested last month, he told Det. Ramirez, "He had a drug problem and that was his main reason for doing this scam."

The Teen Challenge director said he hopes the man gets help.

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