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Police nab alleged '$80 bandits'

By: Laura Newell Telegraph Staff Writer
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After hitting multiple local businesses with an alleged over-charging scam, police say they’ve nabbed the bandits. When Katheran Willis, 24, and James Armstrong, 41, of Sacramento, devised an “overcharged customer” scheme, they stayed with what worked, said Sgt. Jason Browning of the Folsom Police Department. After striking four businesses in Folsom, and several more in other areas, they were finally caught in Folsom on June 12, Browning said. On Sunday, Armstrong allegedly called Smash Burger on East Bidwell Street in Folsom and identified himself as “corporate,” said Browning. Armstrong told the manager the restaurant had overcharged a customer by $80, and the customer would be in to collect her refund. The manager recognized the scheme from a June 2 police department press release which had been circulated by the Folsom Chamber of Commerce. He immediately called the police department and advised that the suspects were at his restaurant. “Chris Rich was our manager on duty that day,” said Philip Riepe, general manager for Smash Burger. “When it took place, he agreed to give the money back to the (suspects) but went in to the back and called Folsom Police Department.” Officers arrived and conducted surveillance, observing Armstrong circling the parking lot in the same gold Lexus witnesses described in previous crimes. Armstrong was stopped in the vehicle by officers, and the gold Lexus was determined to have been reported stolen from Sacramento. Willis was arrested inside Smash Burger without incident, Browning said. “We are very pleased the suspects were caught,” said Riepe. “Chris really did a good job.” Armstrong and Willis allegedly struck Subway, Togos, Straw Hat Pizza and an It’s a Grind coffee shop before their capture. They were booked into the Sacramento County Jail on charges of possession of stolen property, conspiracy and burglary, Browning said. Armstrong and Willis are scheduled to appear in court in at 1:30 p.m. on June 14. According to Browning, no photos are available at this time due to the ongoing investigation.