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Police: Scam artist in custody

Photo by Donnie Ikpa

Photo by Donnie Ikpa

WINDER -- The woman behind what area merchants described as a despicable ruse is in police custody, authorities said.

Marsha Lynn Foster, 47, is said to have preyed on the trust of at least five businesses in Gwinnett and Barrow counties by purporting herself as a Toys For Tots worker.

Winder police said Foster bilked at least $200 from businesses in the city who thought they were donating to the metro Atlanta charity, which aims to provided nearly a half-million toys to kids this Holiday Season. Foster hit other businesses in Bartow County, police said.

Foster was apprehended Saturday night at her Decatur-area home by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office, officials said. She's being held in DeKalb on warrants for a probation violation, said Winder police spokeswoman Sgt. Rachel Love.

Winder police have charged Foster with three counts of theft by deception and four counts of identity fraud.

"Any other business that comes forward is an additional charge," Love said.

It's unclear when Foster will be transported to Barrow for prosecution, she said.

Foster coerced three Winder businesses -- Barberitos restaurant, a Cuban eatery called Little Havana and a Shane's Rib Shack location -- into forking over cash donations of between $50 and $100, Love said. She also approached a carwash but received no cash, Love said.

An employee of Stars and Strikes in Dacula told the Post last week that a suspect fitting Foster's description approached the business as well. The employee was apprehensive and declined to donate.

Several of the targeted businesses provided key video images and tag information, Love said.

"During the court process, I'd hope to see restitution for these businesses," she said.

Merchants had described the suspect as articulate and conniving. A representative with Toys For Tots in Atlanta said the alleged scam is a first for the charity.