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    Core-Mark International Hit Hard by Scam Artist

    Cigarette store owner defrauds wholesalers, banks, others for nearly $1.8 million.

    LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Core-Mark International, a distributor of tobacco and convenience store products based in San Francisco, was one of the wholesalers hit hardest by the owner of two Kentucky cigarette stores whom the U.S. Secret Service said defrauded wholesalers, banks and others of nearly $1.8 million, reported the Associated Press.

    A civil forfeiture action has been filed against three homes -- worth about $590,000 -- owned by Zafar Nasir and his wife.

    Nasir, 38, pleaded not guilty to a state criminal charge that parallels the federal forfeiture allegations. His arrest warrant claimed he was involved in a criminal syndicate with four others who were not identified.

    In an affidavit, Secret Service agent Paul A. Sims said Nasir, the owner of Cigarettes for Less in Lexington, executed his scheme by obtaining credit cards and checks in the names of other businesses and people. He used them to buy cigarettes and gift cards for resale in Kentucky and other states, the affidavit said.

    The Secret Service affidavit said Nasir and others bounced about $668,000 on money orders, mostly to Core-Mark, drawn on a closed account that had belonged to another company.

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