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Fraudulent purchases at SFO land cabdriver behind bars

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A cabdriver with a seeming penchant for electronics will spend a year behind bars after being sentenced for using fraudulent credit cards “every couple of weeks” at two San Francisco International Airport stores.

During at least a two-month period ending in September, 38-year-old Vipan Kumar Sharma of Hayward, who often picked up and dropped off fares at SFO, regularly purchased about $1,200 worth of electronics at Brookstone and InMotion Entertainment, prosecutors said Friday.

“He develops a pattern of going into Brookstone and Inmotion stores every couple of weeks, buys several expensive electronic devices and pays by credit cards, all in his name,” San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

Eventually one of his cards was declined, Wagstaffe said, and another charge came back as fraudlent. Both occurred at InMotion.

The store’s employees investigated two months of his purchases and contacted the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office. Investigators learned that Sharma had nine times gone to either Brookstone, InMotion, or both and made fraudulent purchases, Wagstaffe said.

On Sept. 28, when Sharma was arrested in Brookstone, he was found to be in possession of 11 fraudulent credit cards, Wagstaffe said, all of which were in his name. The last four digits of each card were reportedly altered. A subsequent police search of Sharma’s Hayward home turned up several more fraudulent cards and “dozens” of electronics.

They included “headphones, gadgets, a computer, video players and items still in Brookstone boxes,” Wagstaffe said.

Sharma, who pleaded no contest to felony charges of burglary, identity theft and credit card fraud Nov. 29, remains in custody on $500,000 and has also been ordered to pay restitution to the stores and other victims.

maldax@sfexaminer.com