Credit card scam covers 4 counties

An alleged credit card fraud spree was so widespread it could take another month for the rest of the evidence to roll in.

Cynthia Johnson and Vanessa Ravare are charged with running up and down Interstate 70, and using forged Capital One credit cards and fake driver licenses to illegally take tens of thousands of dollars of cash advances. The caper encompassed Summit, Eagle, Garfield and Mesa counties.

Among other things, authorities are waiting to see what other information rolls in, as well as checking on Johnson’s previous criminal activity in California. She’s on felony probation there, said Heidi McCollum, assistant district attorney who’s handling the case.

California’s probation officials say Johnson missed a meeting and issued an arrest warrant for her. It turns out she missed the meeting because she is in the Eagle County jail.

The bond was in Santa Clara County. She was released from Folsom State Prison after serving time for a sting for similar charges, McCollum said.

Prosecutors say the women used the same scheme among banks, attempting to get cash advances on forged Capital One credit cards and using false identification. When the card was denied, they reportedly told the teller that the credit card company was not aware of their travel plans and told bank employees to call the number on the back of the card. For that call another accomplice would pose as a Capital One customer service representative.

Johnson’s preliminary hearing was postponed Tuesday at the request of defense attorney Thea Reiff, chief public defender for the 5th Judicial District.

Alpine Bank officials told investigator they lost $37,000. Customers did not lose any of that, said Mike Brown with Alpine Bank.

Johnson does not have the money or have access to it, but several others do, some of whom are known to prosecutors, McCollum said.

This was a larger enterprise with the money going somewhere else, Reiff said.

Reiff said Johnson was headed to Denver for a housework job when she was caught up in the purported crime spree.

Reiff asked District Court Judge Paul Dunkelman to reduce Johnson’s $100,000 bond.

“The nature of these crimes indicates sophistication in identity theft,” McCollum said. “With a 96-year maximum hanging over her head, if Ms. Johnson makes this bond, the court will never see her again.”

Johnson’s preliminary was postponed to 9 a.m. Jan. 6, and will probably take more than a day. Agencies from all over the state are involved, and will be asked to testify.

Ravare made her first appearance Tuesday in Dunkelman’s courtroom.

Ravare’s Summit County charges were consolidated into the Eagle County case. She’s being held on $50,000 bond.

Source: http://www.postindependent.com/news/19587307-113/credit-card-scam-case-covers-4-counties

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