LOS ANGELES—The Los Angeles Police Department indicated on their website that on April 25, Van Nuys Narcotics Detail (NED) and Commercial Crimes Division (CCD), working in collaboration, responded to a community tip that led them to Fraud and Identity Theft suspects residing at a local motel. Officers monitored the activity and served a search warrant in the 4700 block of Sepulveda Boulevard at the motel where 13 adults were arrested for identity theft crimes.

During the serving of the search warrant, skimming devices, card readers, $36,062, and a large number of false identification cards and documents were recovered.  The suspects have been stealing millions of dollars monthly in the state of California using card skimmers and Automated Teller Machines (ATM) to drain Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) accounts. The officers determined the individuals may be part of a Romanian syndicate known to target persons experiencing economic hardship for their EBT Cards.

Commercial Crimes Division, for the past two years, has been working in conjunction with the United States Secret Service, the United States Department of Agriculture – Office of Inspector General, as well as the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Bureau of Investigation – Cyber Crime Section, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Fraud and Cyber Crimes Unit, as part of the Southern California High Tech Task Force, which has been working to combat EBT Benefits Fraud.

Anyone with details about this incident or the identity of additional suspects is asked to call the Southern California High Tech Task Force, Detective Casciani at (818) 374-9420. During non-business hours or on the weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (877-527-3247). Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477).

Tipsters may contact Crime Stoppers by texting to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Tipsters may also go to LAPDOnline.org, for additional information on how to report suspected criminal activity.