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Man accused of ID theft in scam to steal from employer

COLUMBUS, Neb. (AP) _ A Clarkson man is accused of using customers’ Social Security numbers to create bogus accounts for stealing money from the rent-to-own store he was managing in Columbus.

The Columbus Telegram reports that 43-year-old Michael Schnelle is charged with identity theft and related theft crimes. His lawyer didn’t immediately return a call Wednesday from The Associated Press. Schnelle’s next court hearing is scheduled for Jan. 11.

Authorities say a store audit uncovered around $250,000 in losses in missing merchandise.

Court documents say store employees told investigators that, under Schnelle’s direction, they were told to create bogus accounts by using customers’ Social Security numbers but changing the names on the accounts. The employees say Schnelle told them the fake accounts were being used to “prop up” store sales numbers.

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