LASD: Purported ‘Sovereign Citizen’ Charged With Forging Macy’s Gift Cards In Alleged $218,000 Scheme

recommendedreading1Macy’s, the American department-store chain famous in real life and in fiction, was the victim of a $218,000 theft at the hands of purported “sovereign citizen” Richard Reyes Duenas and four others, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said.

Duenas, 30, recently was arrested in Las Vegas and taken back to Los Angeles to face trial on charges of grand theft, conspiracy to commit fraud, acquiring access card account information to commit grand theft and access card forgery. He is jailed. Bail was set at $218,000, the amount of the alleged theft.

Also charged (and already successfully prosecuted) for their roles in the scheme were Brent Justin Delgadillo, Noemi Fuentefria, Geovani Vegaion and Daniel Alvarez, LASD said.

As often is the case with “sovereigns,” deputies encountered Duenas during a 2010 traffic stop, LASD said.

Duenas “became resistive and was subsequently arrested,” LASD said. A search of his vehicle led to the discovery of “16 fraudulent Macy’s Department Store gift cards,” LASD said.

From a June 21 statement by the sheriff’s department (italics added):

A subsequent investigation determined that Richard Reyes 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 Macy’s gift cards stolen from Macy’s Department Stores. The forged Macy’s Department Store gift cards were sold at street level to consumers by Richard Reyes Duenas’ associates. The fraudulent gift cards were also utilized by Richard Reyes Duenas, and his associates, to make Macy’s Department Store purchases of Apple electronics. Richard Reyes Duenas had been connected to the theft of approximately $218,000 in Macy’s Department Store gift card dollars.

Duenas, though, left Los Angeles before he could be prosecuted on the charges. But deputies discovered he was in Las Vegas, and asked police there to arrest him, LASD said.

A total of 41 Macy’s Department Stores were targeted in the scam, LASD said, “ranging from the Oakland area to San Diego.” Because Oakland is in Northern California and San Diego is in Southern California, the circumstances suggest a criminal network targeting Macy’s was operating virtually throughout the entire state.

Here is a list of the cities in the scammers’ wakes, according to LASD. Los Angeles, Burbank, Chula Vista, Torrance, El Cajon, San Diego, Culver City, Glendale, Santa Barbara, Laguna Hills, Lakewood, North Hollywood, Cerritos, Manhattan Beach, Mission Viejo, Montclair, Montebello, Newport Beach, Escondido, Northridge, 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, and Woodland Hills.

Macy’s sponsors the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. It also is immortalized in the 1947 movie “Miracle on 34th Street,” a Christmas classic that suggests a man hired by Macy’s to play Santa Claus is the real Santa.

“Sovereign citizens” have been implicated in all sorts of commercial crimes. In 2011, for instance, Christopher H. Cannon was found guilty in federal court in the Northern District of Indiana of using counterfeit currency to pay for big-screen TVs from Sears.

In November 2012, four purported “sovereigns” were arrested in Florida on charges they were passing counterfeit checks.

Purported “sovereigns” also have been known to participate in tax scams, bids to scam banks and extort money from public officials, Ponzi schemes, securities-fraud schemes and scams involving purported “bonded promissory notes.”

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