Man sought in money order scheme

SAN DIEGO - Authorities asked the public Thursday for help in identifying a man who has cheated San Diego-area supermarkets out of hundreds of dollars in recent months through a scam involving money orders.

The man has targeted Albertsons outlets in Alpine, El Cajon, Lemon Grove, San Marcos and Santee, starting in late January and continuing into mid-April, according to sheriff's investigators.

The suspect's method is to contact a guest-service cashier at a supermarket, hand him or her a stack of $20 bills totaling $480 and ask for a $500 money order. When the employee notes the shortage, the swindler takes the cash, appears to add the missing currency and hands it back.

Unbeknown to the clerk, the man has surreptitiously pocketed six to eight $20 bills before handing the money back. The worker then gives him a $500 money order without recounting the cash, and he leaves.

Surveillance cameras have captured images of the crook.

Anyone with information on his identity is asked to call San Diego County Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477, or contact the agency online at sdcrimestoppers.com. Tipsters may remain anonymous and could be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

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