Unhappy Ending for Va. Book Dealer

By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 16, 2005

Fairfax County police said yesterday that a Springfield man found a profitable way to run an online bookstore: stealing books to fill orders.

Undercover detectives caught him doing just that Wednesday at Fair Oaks Mall, authorities said. Sultan M. Ferozi, 29, was arrested with a bag full of stolen books -- and numerous shipping labels with the same titles and the names of customers from around the country who had paid for them, police said.

When police searched his Mercedes sedan, they found packages filled with books ready to be shipped out, receipts from the post office and more packing materials and mailing labels, according to court records.

Ferozi was charged with grand larceny, larceny with intent to distribute, petty larceny, possession of burglary tools and carrying a concealed weapon: two box-cutters that police said were used to remove price tags. Ferozi was being held in the Fairfax jail last night in lieu of $16,000 bond.

"It's an unusual case," said Officer Beth Funston, a Fairfax police spokeswoman. "Unusual in the sense that we were able to connect it to an online business."

Investigators believe that Ferozi was running an online bookstore, Premier Book, out of his parents' home in the 6800 block of Ridgeway Drive in Springfield. Detectives obtained a search warrant for the home early yesterday and found more evidence of the low-overhead, high-profit book dealer, Funston said.

An affidavit in support of the search warrant stated that a loss prevention manager at Macy's in Fair Oaks first spotted Ferozi and pointed him out to undercover officers, who have increased their presence at the mall during the holiday season. Police watched Ferozi swipe a book from the Borders Express store and leave, the affidavit says.

Ferozi allegedly then went to the Family Christian Books store and filled a bag with items he did not pay for, the affidavit states. He was arrested after he left the store, about 9 p.m.

Investigators found records indicating that Ferozi was selling the books on eBay, according to the affidavit. Police believe he was using his mailing labels "to indicate which books he needed to steal to fulfill his orders," the affidavit states.

"The undercover officers did a great job," Funston said, "because they homed in on an individual who was taking items and compiled it into a big case." The police affidavit said the U.S. Postal Service is also investigating Ferozi for alleged mail fraud.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company