Five Bay Area residents were arrested Saturday for theft using fraudulent credit cards, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said. The fake cards contained numbers from legitimate credit cards but a false name or the name taken from a stolen driver’s license, sheriff’s Sgt. Mike Raasch said. Two of the suspects tried to get cash from an ATM machine at the Graton Resort and Casino with a fraudulent credit card over the weekend, Lt. Steve Brown said.
Three of the suspects, however, were able to get several thousands of dollars from the ATM machines, Sgt. Mike Raasch said. A sheriff’s deputy who contacted one of the suspects at the casino later discovered that an elaborate counterfeit credit card operation was taking place in a Rohnert Park hotel room, Brown said. The suspects began their stay at the hotel on Friday and used a counterfeit credit card to rent the room, Raasch said.
Sheriff’s detectives found several stolen credit cards in different names, cash, a credit card reader, laptop computers and several blank credit cards in the hotel room, Brown said. Detectives also found methamphetamine and smoking paraphernalia in the hotel room. The suspects were making the false credit cards and using them at the nearby casino operated by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria and at several other businesses, Brown said.
Three Mercedes Benz vehicles were also located in connection with the suspects, Brown said. One car was found at the casino and two were in the hotel parking lot. Two of the cars were stolen and one belonged to one of the suspects, Raasch said. The suspects stole the two vehicles by renting the cars with false credit cards and failing to return the vehicles, Brown said.
The suspects are Walnut Creek resident Jhona Matthews, 33, Hayward resident Zephyr Carter, 41, and San Francisco residents Michael Anger, 32, Robert Serrato, 37, and Nicole Dunlap, 30. They were arrested on charges including forgery, theft of credit card information, altering credit card information, manufacturing false identification documents, burglary, conspiracy, vehicle theft and possession of drugs and stolen vehicles. Sheriff’s detectives are trying to identify other victims of the operation, Brown said.
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