By MELINDA WILLIAMS
WYTHE COUNTY – A North Carolina man has been charged in connection with a cigarette scam Virginia State Police say resulted in a loss of at least $50,000 to a Wythe County convenience store.
Virginia State Police Sgt. Michael Conroy said police believe other Virginia stores may have been a victim of the scam Ming Keang Louie, 64, of Charlotte, N.C. is alleged to have perpetrated with the help of a store employee, who also was charged.
According to Conroy, Louie was purchasing multiple cartons of name-brand cigarettes from the store several times a week over the past six months. Louie, with the help of the store employee, was charged a significantly reduced amount for the cartons, resulting in a loss the store’s owner estimated to be in excess of $50,000.
“There is a possibility that other area businesses may also have been victimized by this individual. Therefore, we encourage store owners to evaluate their inventory and if they have any concerns or recognize the individual to please contact Virginia State Police,” said Trooper C.A. Thompson, who is continuing to investigate the case with the help of the Wytheville office of Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
Virginia State Police can be reached at (276) 228-3131 or by emailing the Area 26 Office at Area26@vsp.virginia.gov.
Louie was arrested without incident on charges of conspiring to steal cigarettes valued over $200, stealing cigarettes valued at $200 or more, and two counts of grand larceny with the intent to sell or distribute stolen property. He has been released on bond from New River Valley Regional Jail.