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COLUMBUS — 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.

Michael Schnelle, 43, is charged with identity theft and related theft crimes. Schnelle's next court hearing is scheduled for Jan. 11.

Authorities said a store audit uncovered about $250,000 in losses in missing merchandise.

Court documents said 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 said Schnelle told them the fake accounts were being used to "prop up" store sales numbers.

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