RPD Catches Professional Identity Thieves

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Julietta Smith mugshot

On January 19, 2018, in the evening hours, Elisa Bearden, 44 years of Redding, had her wallet stolen from her while shopping at TJ Maxx. Within an hour of the theft, Bearden began receiving notifications from her credit card providers that her cards were being used at multiple locations in Redding. Bearden began going to each business as soon as she received the alerts, only to find the suspects left before her arrival. Bearden went to multiple stores and missed the suspects by mere minutes. Bearden was at the Mt. Shasta Mall checking more locations when she learned the suspects were using her credit cards at Macy’s. Bearden responded to Macy’s and worked with loss prevention to find the suspects on video surveillance.

Bearden contacted the police for assistance. Officer Jamie Rouland responded and with the assistance of loss prevention officers from both Macy’s and Mt. Shasta Mall security, located the two female suspects at Foot Locker. Both suspects were uncooperative and had to be detained in handcuffs. A search of their belongings revealed they had numerous items stolen from Bearden. They also had a “booster bag” – a purse with false compartments and lined with aluminum foil, used to thwart electronic security devices. The purse also contained a powerful magnet, which is used by thieves to deactivate electronic security devices.

One female falsely identified herself with a fake Puerto Rico ID card. She was later identified through her fingerprints as Camila Fernandez, 25 years of Los Angeles. The other female identified herself as Julietta Smith, 29 years of Los Angeles, with a Puerto Rico ID card. Even though Smith was later fingerprinted at the Shasta County Jail, her identity could not be confirmed or refuted at the time of this press release.

Camila Fernandez mugshot

A search of both suspects revealed they had already created a fake Nevada identification card using Bearden’s name, but with a picture of Camila Fernandez. This was accomplished by the suspects in a very short amount of time and allowed them to use Bearden’s credit cards at multiple stores.

In all, Smith and Fernandez charged nearly $10,000 in credit card purchases within a two hour period. The suspects also stole approximately $6,000 in cash from Bearden’s wallet. Just over $1,200 was recovered by police. Aside from the missing cash and wallet, officers were able to recover all of the Bearden’s property.

During the investigation, Officer Joanna Bland was able to locate the suspects’ vehicle. Officer Bland found items inside the car that are used to create fake identifications. There was also a large amount of property that appeared to be recently purchased from nearby stores.

The suspects in this case appear to be professional identity thieves. They worked in tandem to steal the victim’s identity and quickly defraud her of thousands of dollars. They have no prior contacts in the Redding area. Both suspects were booked for a number of charges related to identity theft, in addition to conspiracy. After Fernandez’ true identity was confirmed by the Shasta County Jail, it was discovered she had a felony warrant out of Oregon.

This investigation was an excellent example of how multiple organizations can work together, along with victims, to thwart the efforts of criminals – even sophisticated professional criminals.

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