Identity theft ring busted
June 9, 2011
Three alleged members of an identity theft ring suspected of more than 150 theft cases in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties were arrested on Friday.
San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s detectives, Pismo Beach Police, Santa Maria Police and United States Postal Inspection Service investigators recovered evidence of mail theft, stolen checks and identity fraud during the raid of a Santa Maria home. Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Bomb Task Force processed an improvised explosive device at the scene.
Ring members allegedly stole checks from mailboxes and washed off the payee’s name. They then created online accounts and transferred funds to debit cards that accomplices used to remove money from the unsuspecting victims’ bank accounts, authorities said.
Police booked Natalie Rae Fuentes, 26, into San Luis Obispo County Jail on numerous fraud charges with bail set at $20,000.
Both Michael John Hastings, 44, and Casey Sartain, 29, were also charged with parole violations and are being held without bail.