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Police arrest 4 identity theft ring suspects

Authorities say counterfeit credit cards and IDs were used to buy merchandise and sell it on eBay.

May 17, 2007|By Kelly Strodl

Two men arrested on suspicion of using bogus credit cards on a weekend Fashion Island shopping spree led police to the arrest of two others suspected of operating a identity theft ring to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise, Newport Beach Police said Wednesday.

The suspects used counterfeit American Express, MasterCard, and Visa credit cards and California Driver's licenses to buy items from local department stores then return the purchases for cash or sell them on eBay, police said.

Police have yet to determine the total loss, but it appears to be in the six-figure range, maybe more, Sgt. Evan Sailor said.

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Saturday police arrested Christopher John Aragon, 47, of Capistrano Beach, and Guy Itzak Shitrit, 23, of Miami, in the parking lot just outside of the Bloomingdale's store in Fashion Island. The two men had just left the store having purchased a number of Coach handbags, police said.

After a tip from store security, officers stopped the pair finding the handbags and much more inside Aragon's Chevy Tahoe parked in the lot, Sailor said. Police found nearly $13,000 worth of items in the SUV.

Both were arrested on suspicion of committing commercial burglary, police said. Aragon and Shitrit were in possession of approximately 70 counterfeit cards at the time of their arrest, Sailor said.

Tuesday police served search warrants at Aragon's home in Capistrano Beach and at his business in Aliso Viejo, seizing more than 100 phony credit cards, police said. They also found several more Coach handbags, mp3 players and an assortment of new cameras, Sailor said.

Police also found a half-ounce of cocaine and four pounds of marijuana. At that time they arrested Clara Lee Aragon, 34, of Capistrano Beach for possession of stolen property and Marcus Phillipe Rojas, 32, of Mission Viejo for possession of marijuana intended for sale, police said.

Detectives are working with American Express and a number of bank investigators with the account information obtained from the phony cards, Sailor said. Police believe the suspects were purchasing the counterfeit credit cards that contained legitimate personal information already embossed onto cards and magnetized into the black strip on the back of each card, Sailor said.

All four suspects are being held at the Orange County Jail in Santa Ana. Christopher and Clara Aragon had their bail increased to $1 million, police said. Shitrit's and Rojas' bail has been set at $100,000.

Police encourage anyone with information to call the department at (800) 550-NBPD.


  • KELLY STRODL may be reached at (714) 966-4623 or at kelly.strodl@latimes.com.

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