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Newport auto store the sufferer of theft, fraud

NEWPORT — CJ’s Tire & Auto Service on JT Connell Freeway isn’t something fancy.

There’s no espresso machine or large display screen tv, mentioned Mark Gorman, a loyal buyer. With supervisor Rick Edwards and proprietor Carl Russell, CJ’s Tire is “an old school, trustworthy automobile restore store that treats its prospects proper and builds a long-term relationship,” Gorman mentioned in an e-mail to The Each day Information.

“I belief them to the moon and again. Rick works arduous to get elements at an affordable worth and he by no means, ever tries to promote you a restore you don’t want. He at all times quotes you an actual worth for a restore and he sticks to that worth, it doesn’t matter what.”

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Susanne Day is one other long-time buyer who has put her belief in Russell and Edwards for years. When she labored shut by, they’d even give her a experience to her place of employment whereas her automobile was serviced.

“They’re simply so honest,” Day mentioned. “They’re really easy to speak to. I by no means really feel like I want to buy round.”

“It’s horrible what has occurred to them,” Gorman mentioned.

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Newport police charged a 24-year-old Middletown man with 4 felonies, alleging he swindled hundreds of {dollars} from Edwards personally, in addition to from CJ’s Tire.

Police say the person in October 2021 stole $20,938 from the auto store within the type of varied fraudulent checks. That’s one cost. One other cost stems from the person’s allegedly fraudulent use of Edwards’ bank card, additionally in October of final yr or round that point.

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Rick Edwards is the supervisor of CJ’s Tire & Auto Service on JT Connell Freeway in Newport.

In November and December 2021, and January of this yr, police additionally allege he stole greater than $10,000 from the enterprise. Police charged the person with conspiracy to commit larceny via fraudulent checks.

The person didn’t enter pleas in District Court docket on Feb. 9, which is typical for felony circumstances heard in District Court docket. Bail was set at $15,000 with surety, or $1,500 money. Court docket data point out the person didn’t make bail and was transferred to the Grownup Correctional Establishments in Cranston. A screening is scheduled for March 24.

‘This nearly put me out of enterprise’

Edwards continues to be crunching the numbers and assessing the monetary hit.

“This nearly put me out of enterprise,” Edwards mentioned. “If it wasn’t for a number of the associates I acquired, I’d be actually dangerous proper about now … We’re nonetheless attempting to get better right here. We’re holding our head above water a bit bit, however that’s about it.”

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The person charged with the crimes didn’t work for the auto store, however Edwards mentioned he hung on the market and “helped out as soon as in awhile. Serving to after I scrubbed the flooring and stuff … principally he gained our belief.”

“He had some associates are available right here. I did work on their vehicles,” Edwards mentioned. “He introduced us some enterprise. However he stole greater than he introduced us, let’s put it that approach.”

Edwards doesn’t know but whether or not he’ll be capable of get better the allegedly stolen funds. “Now I do know why folks get their identities stolen, they simply file chapter and finish it,” he mentioned. “It’s so irritating.”

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“By no means had an issue like this,” Edwards mentioned. Russell, the proprietor, is ailing and “actually upset about it … He doesn’t should be coping with the stress.”

The alleged incidents have upended Edwards’ life in myriad methods. It’s a small group at CJ’s, and now the store is open Saturdays by appointment to attempt to make ends meet.

“I’m 55 years outdated now,” Edwards mentioned. “I don’t need to be working six days per week underneath a automobile.”

Manager Rick Edwards stands inside CJ's Tire & Auto Service on JT Connell Highway in Newport.

Supervisor Rick Edwards stands inside CJ’s Tire & Auto Service on JT Connell Freeway in Newport.

The stress of the monetary woes is sort of crippling. “All this has saved me up,” Edwards mentioned. “Not sleeping or consuming or something.”

It’s leveled his private plans, too.

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“I had an ideal credit standing: 800. And now my credit standing is in the bathroom. I couldn’t even hire an condo if I needed to. My credit standing’s so dangerous … I deliberate on shopping for a home this yr, (however he) screwed me out of that, too.”

Requested if he thinks he can keep in enterprise, Edwards mentioned: “I’m attempting, with assist from my associates. I’m doing the most effective I can, nevertheless it couldn’t occur at a worse time of yr. Taxes and the whole lot else.”

Plus, this comes after the Pell Bridge ramp reconfiguration final summer time disrupted enterprise for CJ’s Tire. That “actually killed us,” Edwards mentioned. “That was like a motocross down right here for awhile … My prospects (didn’t) even need to come down this highway.”

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At this level, Edwards is simply hoping for extra enterprise to assist offset the monetary pressure he’s underneath.

“I imply, I’m hanging on right here,” he mentioned. “I acquired associates that put all of it out on Fb. I’ve gotten some work out of it. Folks have known as me for work. I simply hope it retains going. I simply hope this man will get what he deserves.”

The best way to shield your self from fraudsters

“Watch your stuff and who’s round it,” Edwards warned. “I acquired my financial institution accounts now the place my telephone will ding, let me know if somebody’s attempting to get in or the rest.”

Listed below are some suggestions for banking on-line safely, by way of the Washington State Division of Monetary Establishments:

• Defend your electronics with passwords. The passwords needs to be no less than eight characters lengthy and embrace a mix of numbers, symbols and higher and lowercase letters. Change your passwords each three months.

• Use multi-factor authentication, which means you acquire entry to your gadget solely after efficiently offering two or extra items of knowledge.

• Do not maintain your accounts logged in. Whenever you’re accomplished with on-line banking, log off.

• Keep away from banking on public Wifi, which is not essentially safe.

• Keep away from accessing your checking account on a shared laptop, or a pc that’s not your personal.

• Examine your account repeatedly for unauthorized expenses or withdrawals. Report any fraudulent expenses to your financial institution instantly.

• Report misplaced or stolen bank cards to your monetary establishment instantly.

This text initially appeared on Newport Each day Information: Newport RI: CJ’s Tire & Auto Service struggling after theft, fraud


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