157 Victims Confirmed in Eagan Identity Theft Ring

A criminal complaint is revealing more details about an Eagan identity theft ring that affects at least 157 victims.

The investigation began after an asset protection manager at the Eagan Sam’s Club called Eagan police at 3:40 p.m. Monday, Dec. 21, about suspicious activity. The manager said there was a group of men in the store who were making repeated purchases of large amounts of gift cards.

The manager said the group matched the description of other men who had bought about $7,000 in gift cards at the Apple Valley Sam’s Club an hour earlier.

The manager said the men were using multiple credit cards to make the purchases, with some of them being declined.

Officers responded to the store, and the manager said two of the men had bought about $3,500 in gift cards, and a third man had bought an additional $3,500 in gift cards. Police say the group used 14 different credit cards to buy more than $7,000 worth of gift cards at the Eagan Sam’s Club.

Officers stopped the suspect vehicle and identified the occupants as 39-year-old Heredi Gutierrez-Arregui, 34-year-old Giraldo Salas Avila, 35-year-old Alberto Perez-Martin, 45-year-old Osvaldo Pilas-Rojas and 39-year-old July Antonio Alvia, all from Las Vegas.

Police say surveillance video shows all five men making gift card purchases.

Police searched the men and say July Alvia was found in possession of nine Mastercard gift cards and four credit cards; Pilas-Rojas was in possession of 10 credit cards; Giraldo Avila was in possession of one Mastercard gift card; and Gutierrez-Arregui was in possession of one Mastercard gift card and 12 credit cards.

Police say all but one credit card were counterfeit and had been created using someone else’s credit card number.

In an interview with police, Gutierrez-Arregui said he had received an email about a “work opportunity” in Minnesota, so he and the four other men came to Minnesota and called the Minnesota contact person. They then got a key to a motel room, where a package was delivered that contained about 200 credit cards in their names.

The men were told to use the credit cards to buy gift cards and then split the money with their “employer,” according to the criminal complaint.

Police say a search warrant of the vehicle revealed 126 more counterfeit credit cards along with two Olive Garden gift cards, four $50 Mastercard gift cards, 27 $100 Mastercard gift cards and 90 $200 Mastercard gift cards.

The total amount was $21,000.

Police say all of the counterfeit credit cards were real credit card accounts belonging to 157 victims.

The five men have been charged with identify theft.

Article source: http://kstp.com/news/stories/s4004250.shtml

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