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October 24, 2012

L.A. Man Sentenced to Over 6 Years in Prison for Using Information from Elderly Victims to Obtain Credit Cards and Buy Luxury Goods

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 5:38 pm

LOS ANGELES – A Los Angeles man has been sentenced to 76 months in federal prison for his role in an international identity theft and credit card fraud scheme that targeted elderly victims.

Doren Harold Ward, 37, who resides in the Park La Brea district of Los Angeles, was sentenced yesterday by United States District Judge Terry J. Hatter. In addition to the prison term, Judge Hatter ordered Ward to pay nearly $300,000 in restitution.

During yesterday’s sentencing hearing, Judge Hatter asked Ward if he knew the credit cards belonged to real people, and despite a jury finding him guilty of six felony counts in June (see:, Ward continued to deny that he knew the credit cards he abused belonged to 45 victims of identity theft.

“Identity theft is a serious crime that often has far-reaching effects on its victims,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. “This lengthy prison sentence should also have a far-reaching impact, sending a powerful message to thieves like Ward that their criminal conduct will lead to severe consequences.”


April 4, 2012


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 2:32 am

ANTA ANA - The leader of a crime ring was convicted yesterday of stealing thousands of personal identities and counterfeiting credit cards to buy high-end goods to be resold on eBay and Craigslist. Christopher John Aragon, 51, Capistrano Beach, pleaded guilty March 26, 2012, to 50 felony counts including 33 counts of unauthorized use of personal identifying information, 13 counts of grand theft, two counts of counterfeiting access cards, and one count each of conspiracy to commit a crime and the sale or transport of a controlled substance. He also admitted to two sentencing enhancements for property damage over $1 million and aggravated white collar crime over $500,000. Aragon is expected to be sentenced to 25 years in state prison at his sentencing Sept. 28, 2012, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-45, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

Co-defendants Clara Aragon, 39, Capistrano Beach, Sarah Jean Gunderson, 29, Tustin, Elizabeth Ann Esquer, 34, Irvine, Nancy Diaz Silva, 29, San Juan Capistrano, Guy Itzak Shitrit, 28, Miami, FL, and Federico Vigo, 52, Northridge, pleaded guilty to the court at various times in 2007 to over 80 felony counts each, including conspiracy to commit identity theft, identity theft, burglary, and possession of stolen property. Marcus Phillipe Rojas, 37, Mission Viejo, pleaded guilty in 2007 to 17 felony counts including identity theft, grand theft, burglary, possession of stolen property, possession of drugs for sale, possession of counterfeiting equipment. Their sentences ranged from one year in Orange County Jail with three years of formal probation up to seven years in state prison.

Between March 29, 2004, and April 15, 2007, Christopher Aragon led a crime ring which included his wife Clara Aragon and six co-defendants. Co-defendant Shitrit was a hacker who obtained victims’ credit card numbers used to encode forged credit cards. Christopher Aragon and his co-defendants used credit profiles and personal identifying information of victims to make fraudulent California driver’s licenses, credit cards, and gift cards. The defendants encoded the magnetic strips of the credit and gift cards with stolen account information, and used the cards to purchase high-end merchandise, including designer handbags, jewelry, clothing, and electronics. Christopher Aragon hired a crew of primarily women to make purchases for him. These women traveled throughout California and to Las Vegas to purchase high-end goods. Christopher Aragon and his co-defendants resold the merchandise on eBay and Craigslist. Clara Aragon hired an employee solely to sell stolen goods on eBay.


November 7, 2011

Orange County Man Found Guilty of Using Credit Cards Stolen from Victims in the Vietnamese Community to Purchase Luxury Goods

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 5:26 am

LOS ANGELES – A resident of Costa Mesa has been convicted of identity theft and other federal offenses – some of which were committed while he was free on bail in a state case – for his role in a credit card fraud scheme that targeted members of the Southland’s Vietnamese community.

Hung Van Tieu, 62, was found guilty Thursday afternoon of conspiracy, two counts of credit card fraud and aggravated identity theft by a federal jury. As a result of the verdicts, Tieu faces a mandatory minimum sentence of two years and a statutory maximum sentence of 32 years in federal prison.

The evidence presented during a three-day trial in United States District Court showed that Tieu was involved in a conspiracy to fraudulently obtain credit cards. Tieu and other members of the fraud scheme phoned credit card issuers, impersonated Vietnamese victim cardholders and asked the credit card companies to send replacement cards to the victims’ real billing addresses. The credit cards were intercepted before they could be delivered to the legitimate cardholders.

Tieu used the stolen credit cards to withdraw thousands of dollars in cash at the Bellagio, MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay hotels in Las Vegas. He also purchased more than $100,000 in luxury goods, including Rolex watches and items at Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Burberry stores across Southern California and in Las Vegas. Tieu was found guilty in relation to conduct committed in early 2010 and in early 2011.


October 28, 2011

Parolee Sentenced to 8 Years in Federal Prison for Identity Theft

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 8:11 am

LOS ANGELES – A man who was on parole for identity theft when he participated in a second identity theft scheme that resulted in authorities recovering 300,000 consumer profiles has been sentenced to eight years in federal prison.

Robert Delgado Jr., 40, of Monterey Park, was sentenced yesterday by United States District Judge R. Gary Klausner, who warned Delgado that if he returned to crime after his release, he could expect an even longer sentence.

Delgado pleaded guilty in May 2011 to conspiracy to commit bank fraud. When he pleaded guilty, Delgado admitted participating in a scheme in which he and others impersonated victims and used their credit to purchase goods at stores such as JCPenny.

The investigation began after one victim complained to the Post Office that a vacation hold had been placed on his mail without his consent, and that there were fraudulent charges on his Lowe’s credit card, which was maintained by GE Moneybank. Delgado’s telephone records showed that he had called GE Moneybank’s automated service line, which allows callers to check their available credit, 350 times in three months, even though he did not have a Lowe’s account.

When Postal Inspectors arrested Delgado on March 8, 2011, he was attempting to hide an external hard drive that contained:

•more than 300,000 victim profiles, including names, addresses, dates of birth and Social Security numbers;

•computer images used to create copies of credit cards for American Express, Target, Best Buy, Circuit City, Ikea, JCPenney and Lowe’s;

•computer images used to create copies of California Department of Motor Vehicle documents and identification cards; and

•Scanned checks in the names of others.

Delgado has been held without bond since his arrest.

Authorities are continuing to investigate how Delgado came into possession of the 300,000 identity profiles.

Three other men involved in the scheme have also pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

October 20, 2011

Former MLB Player Pleads in Auto Theft Case

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , , — fayarfa @ 2:09 am

SAN FERNANDO – Former New York Mets star Lenny Dykstra pleaded no contest today to three counts of grand theft auto and filing a false financial statement and admitted the loss was more than $100,000, the District Attorney’s office announced.

Dykstra, 48, entered his plea before Judge Cynthia Ulfig, who released him pending sentencing on Jan. 20, 2012, said Deputy District Attorney Alex Karkanen with the Auto Insurance Fraud Division. As part of the plea, Dykstra faces up to four years in state prison, Karkanen said.

Beginning in January, Dykstra and two co-defendants tried to lease various high-end automobiles from several area dealerships by providing fraudulent information and claiming credit through a phony business, Home Free Systems.

At two dealerships, Dykstra and Robert Hymers, 27, his accountant, provided information from a man they claimed was a co-signer but who had not authorized his name to be used. The leases were not approved.

However, at a San Fernando Valley auto dealer, Dykstra, Hymers and a third defendant, Christopher Gavanis, 30, a friend of Dykstra’s, were able to drive off with three cars by providing fraudulent information to the dealer.

When LAPD detectives investigating the case executed a search warrant at his Encino home on April 14, the day he was arrested, they allegedly found cocaine and Ecstasy along with Somatropin, a synthetic human growth hormone.

Dykstra was charged with five counts of attempted grand theft auto, eight counts of filing false financial statements, four counts of identity theft, three counts of grand theft auto and three counts of possession of a controlled substance. All are felonies. In addition, he was charged with one misdemeanor count each of possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and unauthorized possession of a syringe.

In exchange for his plea, the remaining charges will be dismissed at sentencing. If Dykstra fails to appear for sentencing, he faces up to six years in state prison.

In September, Hymers pleaded no contest to one felony count of identity theft and Gavanis pleaded no contest to one felony count of filing a false financial statement. Their sentencing was put over for a year.

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