This story began on Friday, March 29, at 12:23 pm when Community Service Officers from the Santa Monica Police Department went to Fireside Cellars, a beer, wine and spirits retailer located at 1424 Montana Avenue in order to investigate a fraud case.
When they arrived they spoke with a staff member who told them what had happened.
He said that he had assisted three suspects who had entered the store and selected several items of alcohol for a party.
After totaling the items in the register, the dollar amount was at $6,183.36 (some party?).
The suspects gave the employee a credit card, and when it was processed, the system declined the purchase.
The suspect then used his cell phone to call the credit card company, and apparently obtained an authorization code.
The employee entered the code into the system, and hey-presto, the purchase was approved!
After the three suspects had left the store with their alcoholic beverages, the employee decided to check with the credit card company the validity of the purchase.
He was told that the numbers provided were fraudulent, and the authorization code was also invalid, but had somehow managed to override the system and approve the purchase.
The Community Service Officers filed a report and the case was handed over to investigators.
On Thursday, April 25, suspects entered The Farms, located at 2030 Montana Avenue and inquired about purchasing a bottle of alcohol.
The price of this bottle of alcohol was $1,300 (huh?).
The owner of The Farms became suspicious because he had heard of other frauds concerning expensive alcohol in the area, so he immediately called the police.
The police came and located the suspects in the 2700 block of Wilshire Boulevard.
The investigators from the Fireside Cellars case arrived at the scene shortly afterwards, and confirmed that two of the three suspects from that previous case were inside the vehicle.
When the vehicle was searched the officers discovered evidence from the Fireside Cellars case as well as another fraud case.
During the arrest, investigators learned that the suspects were all wanted in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles for similar crimes all amounting to losses of well over $200,000.
The suspects were charged as follows: Male aged 32 of Compton, charged with burglary, forging an access card, and providing false information. Bail was set for him at $200,000.
Male aged 30, of Anaheim, charged with burglary and forging an access card. Bail was set for that one at $200,000.
Editor’s Note: These reports are part of a regular police coverage series entitled “Alert Police Blotter” (APB), which injects some minor editorial into certain police activities in Santa Monica. Not all of the Mirror’s coverage of incidents involving police are portrayed in this manner. More serious crimes and police-related activities are regularly reported without editorial in the pages of the Santa Monica Mirror and its website, smmirror.com.
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