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Mendota police arrest 4 in very strategic ID theft ring

Four suspects are in custody after Mendota police busted an identity theft ring, but they say the threat isn't over yet.
Saturday, June 21, 2014
Four suspects are in custody after authorities busted an identity theft ring here in the Valley, but they say the threat isn't over yet. Mendota police say the four arrests may lead to many more -- as they filter through newly obtained evidence.

This is just some of the evidence Mendota police gathered from the homes of four suspects on Friday. Melissa Gonzalez, Sylvia Gonzalez, Anthony Ochoa and Cathy Estrada are accused of taking people's personal information and using their identities to turn a profit.

"There's a lot of people involved. It takes a lot of cooperation amongst different individuals at different residences to share information," said Cpl. Joel Warkentin.

The evidence collected suggests Social Security numbers and other information has been gathered for years. Cpl. Warkentin says it's likely IDs and passports are stolen by thieves then traded or collected to an identity thief specialist.

"It's not so much a loss to you personally. But anytime there's fraud, anytime there's theft it really affects the economy as a whole," said Warkentin.

He says most consumers are insured so the loss won't directly affect their wallets. However, any time there's large amounts of fraud, credit card rates go up for merchants and insurance rates go up for consumers.

Diana Toscano is a victim in this identity theft ring. "It's very stressful so no I don't have any debit cards at all because it's continuing, they continue to do it. This is the second time that it's happened so it is stressful," said Toscano.

Warkentin says they're expecting to serve more search warrants as they further the investigation. The four suspects face identity theft charges which are felonies.

Related Topics:
news identity theft arrest crime crimetracker drugs fresno county Mendota
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