An employee at a downtown Clinton business has been arrested for allegedly using customers’ credit card information to make personal purchases, according to Clinton Police authorities.
Monica Sykes Shultz, 36, of 103 Oakland Blvd., Clinton, was arrested Friday afternoon by the Clinton Police Department Neighborhood Improvement Team on three counts of identity theft. Shultz is accused of making unauthorized transactions using customer credit cards from Unique Gifts by Jacquelynn, where she was employed, Police Chief Jay Tilley stated.
Investigators transported Shultz to the Sampson County Detention Center, where a county magistrate set Schultz’s bond at $35,000 secured.
Assistant Police Chief Donald Edwards said the identity theft charges stemmed from a months-long investigation by NIT members, launched after information was received from a female victim who had patronized Unique Gifts by Jacquelynn, located on Vance Street in Clinton.
“It was reported to us on May 14,” Edward said when reached late Friday afternoon, following Shultz’s arrest. “(The victim) had used the card at the business then found multiple other transactions (on her statement).”
Edwards said that initial victim alone had approximately $1,000 worth of unauthorized transactions on her credit card statement.
“While working on that (investigation),” Edwards noted, “we had another victim come forward. If any other victims come forward, it will be investigated just like those were.”
Jacquelynn Richardson, owner of Unique Gifts by Jacquelynn, said she was completely taken aback by the arrest of her daughter Friday. She called the Sampson Independent when news of the arrest was posted on social media.
“I was unaware of any credit card information being stolen from anybody. I didn’t have a clue until (the police officers) were here today taking her away,” Richardson said. “I’ve worked hard my whole life and I want everybody to know that I knew nothing about this. I’m hurt, I’m frustrated and I’m beside myself. I’m to the point of throwing up. I would never in a million years hurt anyone or steal from anyone.”
An emotional Richardson said her daughter is “gone” from the business, an occurrence that was unfortunate as Shultz has a 2-year-old son — Richardson’s grandson — but said she simply had no choice but to “remove that situation” from her business.
“The person that did it was my daughter and I’m hurt. I’m crushed,” Richardson said. “I can’t believe this.”
Tilley said the incidents are believed to be isolated to Unique Gifts by Jacquelynn.
“These crimes are isolated to this one downtown business,” the police chief said in a prepared statement, before adding, “The downtown area of Clinton is a safe and secure environment for citizens to shop and enjoy.”
Richardson was distraught Friday, saying she was happy to be part of the downtown. She opened the business last November and wants to stay for years to come.
“I don’t want this to keep anyone from coming here,” said Richardson, who cited her 30-plus-year career in business, including in payroll and HR. “I have a clean record. I’ve never stolen from anyone in my life. I just want people to know I’m honest.”
Reach staff writer Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.