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Credit Card Fraud Ring Busted At Lafayette Park Hotel; Suspect Goes Out The Window

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This car, reported stolen after it was leased with a fraudulent credit card was allegedly used by the crew. Photo: LPD

Information we were getting that at least one mail theft ring was at work in Lamorinda was borne out by the recent news that Lafayette police were able to break up one such group operating from a room at the Lafayette Park Hotel.

Police said the case came together on July 2 when officers were dispatched to the hotel in answer to a report of a stolen car on the premises. Police confirmed that the car, an SUV, was a rental car leased with a fraudulent credit card.

A search of the car turned up several items recently purchased at local retailers along with numerous credit cards – all with different names on them.

Officers determined that at least two people associated with the car had checked in to the hotel, but could not pinpoint which room they were using. Investigators lingered, hoping to catch sight of the pair, when hotel security advised them they had spotted a third suspect associated with the group elsewhere on the grounds.

A credit card embossing machine used to imprint account numbers onto cards was allegedly found in the hotel room. Photo: LPD
A credit card embossing machine used to imprint account numbers onto cards was allegedly found in the hotel room. Photo: LPD

Police followed that person to a room in the hotel and determined that it had been booked by the people allegedly seen leaving the stolen rental car. Officers were able to intercept two of the three suspects as they were attempting the leave the hotel, detained another in the area but were not able to catch a fourth suspect who eluded capture by escaping out a fourth floor window.

Officers searching the room allegedly found equipment used to create fraudulent credit cards, with machines on hand to emboss new numbers on credit cards, re-encode the electronic strip to the rear of credit cards. Dozens of altered credit cards were also allegedly recovered at the scene.

Police Chief Eric Christensen said his investigators have been able to link the group to several identity cases from the Lamorinda area. Investigators continue their review of computers and documents collected at the scene.

Investigators told NEWS24-680 that the group apparently purchased a large number of iPhones with their bogus cards, apparently for quick resale to a receptive market.

While it is not yet clear how the suspects obtained personal information from individuals, the suspects were found in the possession of computer records bearing the names, addresses, drivers’ license numbers, employer names, social security numbers, telephone numbers, and dates of birth of several people. They were also allegedly found in the possession of articles of mail belonging to others, Christensen said.

Two suspects, Joshua Simms, 43, originally from Fresno, and Ronette Torres, 42, of Fresno, were booked at county jail. One person, whose name was not given, was released at the scene. The fourth person who eluded capture has not yet been identified.

 

9 COMMENTS

  1. “but were not able to catch a fourth suspect who eluded capture by escaping out a fourth floor window.”

    That’s curious. Usually, the guy fleeing out the 4th floor window is the easiest to apprehend, on account of the pavement.

  2. So one or more highly mobile groups or gangs whatever you want to call them moving from town to town with equipment that enables them to make their own credit cards and all they need is a steady supply of new indentities. Throw the book at these creepers.

  3. I was hoping the guy would come up with a rolled ankle at least. Must be some kind of parkour guru.

  4. “If you ask me our troubles started when our young people stopped saying ‘sir’ and ‘maam.”

  5. I know nothing about the Lafayette Park Hotel, so I looked it up. First, it’s not a Hotel, it is a Hotel and Spa. The cost for 2 bedrooms and three adults seem to be $400 to $500 a night. So, I guess this line of work pays off. I’m guessing they all have prior arrests for this sort of thing, and our court system will let them go again to avoid overcrowding the jails.

  6. I hope these people get their fill of meth while the getting is good, because the new “chip & pin” style credit cards (or use Apple Pay now) are completely immune to this sort of thing. You need the actual card (which cannot be cloned by simple embossing and mag stripe writing) and the PIN to transact.

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