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Easthampton Police Investigating Store over Bill Pay Service

EASTHAMPTON, Mass. (WGGB) — A local convenience store is under investigation after several customers say the owner has been pocketing their money.

Jones News in Easthampton is facing accusations that it’s bill payment service isn’t what it seems.

Customers are alleging that their cash payments mysteriously disappear.

Retired state police officer Chuck Perry and wife Sherry Lyn say they’ve paid bills through Jones News for about a year.

The store offers a walk-in bill payment service for customers who prefer not using checking accounts or banking online. Customers can pay bills here, in cash, with a receipt like this, guaranteeing it will be paid.

It’s a small fee per transaction, but for some, like the Perry family, a fast convenient way to manage finances.

“I can totally trust the fact go in there, pay $2.50 to have my bill paid,” says Perry.

That is what Perry assumed happened when she paid in-cash a $300 dental bill last month.

“I paid it and he gave me a slip showing it was paid for and when it was going through a month later, I got a bill from my Cabella Visa saying I had insufficient funds.”

But when Perry went back to Jones News, receipt in hand, to ask owner Alan Bouyea where her money was, she says he was discourteous and made her feel unwelcome.

Instead of an explanation, Bouyea quickly gave her $300 back, but was hesitant to pay the late fee.

Perry adds. “We basically confronted him with the fact I paid $300 cash and there’s no way in the world I could have insufficient funds on cash. I asked him if other people had had this happen to them and he said a couple.”

At Jones News, Bouyea confirmed he was familiar with the situation but refused to speak to us about the allegations.

[A couple of people contacted our station about their bill payments not going through, in particular the Perry family. Do you want to explain?]

“No comment,” Bouyea replied.

[We're told police are investigation, are you sure?]

“No comment.”

In fact, Easthampton Police say they’re investigating Jones News. They say almost a dozen others have come forward with the same allegations.

As for the Perrys, their money’s back, but they say they’re concerned about other victims who may not know their credit’s being compromised.

“That’s criminal. That’s a criminal mind. Has to be to be able to do that to people. No, I would never go back in that store. Never and I hope other people in town don’t either,” says Chuck Perry.

If you’ve had issues with Jones News on Main Street in Easthampton, please contact the Easthampton Police Department.

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