Fontana police arrest six in credit card, check fraud operation
Aug 29, 2009 (San Bernardino County Sun - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Fontana police nabbed six people Friday on suspicion of running a credit card and check fraud operation in San Bernardino.
Officers searched two Fontana hotel rooms and a house in San Bernardino and found 300 fake or stole credit cards and fake IDs as well as the equipment needed to make more. The arrests came after Fontana detectives were tipped off about a bad credit card used to book rooms at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fontana.
"They were making lots of credit cards," said Fontana Police Sgt. Jeff Decker.
He said the suspected fraudsters had booked the hotel rooms to give them close access to shopping outlets, including Target and the Ontario Mills mall.
"They had set up shop to go shopping," he said.
Decker said the five people arrested Friday -- three of whom were still in custody Saturday -- are suspected of using fake credit cards and stolen credit card numbers to go shopping, both for themselves and to buy items they planned to resell or return for cash.
Detective Darren Robbins said identity thieves intend to keep most purchases for themselves -- a member of the grup arrested Friday bought an air conditioner -- but that some want cash to support a drug habit.
"Virtually all the guys in this crew are heavy drug users," Robbins said.
The group was using equipment to reprogram gift cards with stolen credit card numbers and making fake IDs to go along with stolen credit cards.
Officers made five arrests in the wee hours of Friday morning at the
Hilton Garden Inn in Fontana. The manager of the hotel discovered that the card used to book two rooms at the hotel had been used at another Hilton Garden Inn, and that the other hotel was still owed $150, Robbins said.
"The manager was pretty astute," he said.
Items seized from the hotel included a manual describing how to steal credit card numbers and make fake credit cards, as well as equipment used to laminate, program and emboss fake cards.
Later on Friday, police arrested a sixth suspect, Eduardo Reyes, after he ran from his San Bernardino home. A search of Reyes' home found lists of stolen credit card numbers as well as equipment used to make counterfeit checks.
Reyes, 34, was also booked on assault charges. Reyes hit another suspected counterfeiter, La Habra resident Kenneth Gill, with a bottle while at the Hilton Garden Inn, according to a police report.
Gill, 43, is also in custody.
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