National scam artist makes last stop in Augusta

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News 12 at 11 o'clock, August 7, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---An alleged scam artist swindles more than $300,000 from all over the country but he made his last stop right here in Augusta. 35-year-old Jeffrey Canter is behind bars at the Columbia County Jail accused in a national credit card scheme.

At Portman's Music Store it's not every day when a customer asks to see a Martin, the most expensive guitar in the business. "I always tell customers if you got one, someone either must really love you or you've made it," said Cevin Clay, the assistant manager. On Saturday Clay thought not only was he about to land a huge sale but this customer was interested in buying even more from the store. "I told him about a 1972 saxophone we had for $6,000 and he said 'I want it' and told me 'I'm gonna call my bank and make this happen.'"

But what the flashy buyer didn't know was that the store's manager already knew his face. "We got an e-mail three weeks prior to this from our manager to be aware of this person going around music stores," he said.

This is how investigators say the scam worked: Canter would ask for the most expensive guitar, and when it was time to pay, his credit card would be declined, which was all a part of his elaborate scheme. Once it was rejected, he'd tell the employee to repeat the transaction with a fake five-digit code from his credit card company. By then the machine prints out a receipt- but the sale never goes through. It's not until weeks later the store finds out it was not a legit sale, and by then Canter is long gone.

"I was overwhelmed at how he was able to pull wool over people's eyes," said Investigator Nash Garrett with the Columbia County Sheriff's Office.

The scam worked so well, investigators say he did it 146 times all over the country since May from Orlando, FL to Springfield, Ill. But perhaps this time Canter struck a chord at the wrong store.

Canter is being on charges for theft by taking without a bond.

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