By Joe Segura
firstname.lastname@example.org @JoeSeguraPT on Twitter
A routine traffic stop in Lakewood three years ago has led to the arrest of five people for alleged grand theft and fraud, involving over $200,000 in Macy’s gift cards throughout the state, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies said Friday.
A total of 41 Macy’s Department Stores were targeted, including those in Lakewood, Cerritos, Woodland Hills, Burbank, Northridge, San Bernardino and Manhattan Beach and Torrance.
The five arrested suspects include Richard Reyes Duenas, Justin Delgadillo, Noemi Fuentefria, Geovani Vega and Daniel Alvarez.
The case began Dec. 6, 2010, when Lakewood deputies stopped Duenas on a traffic violation. During the traffic stop, deputies said Duenas resisted and was subsequently arrested, leading to a search of his vehicle that led to the discovery of 16 fraudulent Macy’s gift cards.
In January 2012, the District Attorney’s Office charged Duenas with one count of grand theft, one count of conspiracy to commit fraud, three counts of acquiring access card account information to commit grand theft and nine counts of access card forgery in connection with gift card fraud associated with Macy’s Department Store.
Authorities believe Duenas was obtaining Macy’s Department Store gift card account numbers and associated PIN codes, which he utilized to prepare forged Macy’s gift cards, via
inactive gift cards stolen from various Macy’s stores.
The forged gift cards were sold at street level to consumers by Duenas’ associates.
The fraudulent gift cards were also utilized by Duenas and his associates to buy Apple electronics from Macy’s. Duenas had been connected to the theft of approximately $218,000 in Macy’s Department Store gift card dollars, deputies said.
A total of 41 Macy’s Department Stores were targeted, ranging from the Oakland area to San Diego: Los Angeles, Chula Vista, El Cajon, San Diego, Culver City, Glendale, Santa Barbara, Laguna Hills, North Hollywood, Mission Viejo, Montclair, Montebello, Newport Beach, Escondido, National City, Pleasanton, City of Industry, San Bernardino, Daly City, Redondo Beach, Costa Mesa, Hayward, Sunnyvale, Thousand Oaks, Canoga Park, La Jolla, Ventura, Rancho Cucamonga.
Duenas’ associates have been prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Office, while Duenas had remained at large. However, the Commercial Crimes Bureau recently received information that Duenas was residing in Las Vegas, Nev. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department was contacted and subsequently placed Duenas under arrest.
Duenas waived extradition and was transported to the Walnut Sheriff’s Station, where he was booked on Wednesday for the indicated charges.
Anyone with information or questions regarding this case is asked to contact Detective R. Barton at 562- 946-7217.