Check fraud investigation: Questions arise surrounding California dental office

Hanford police continue to investigate the case of Platinum Dental, a group named earlier this month in a check-fraud scheme that left several businesses around town with a significant hole in their pockets.

Police investigators say people claiming to be Platinum Dental employees are trying to cash checks bearing the company logo at local retailers. When retailers go to the bank for reimbursement, they are told that the checks are issued from a nonexistent or bad account.

One victim, Harrod’s Market on East Sixth Street, lost more than $1,000 to the bad checks, money that has not been returned since the business was hit in early November. Police say so far four businesses have been taken for about $4,000 and they predict there may be other victims out there.

Police said no arrests have been made regarding these incidents. Department officials said the high volume of cases has slowed down the investigation.

But what started out as a simple case of suspected fraud has since become “very weird,” according to Lt. Pat Crowe.

Platinum Dental’s official Web site describes the group as an “affordable full-service cosmetic dentistry office.” It goes on to say they are a member of “the Better Business Bureau, the American Dental Association, the California Dental Association and the Hanford Chamber of Commerce.”

However, not one of these organizations contacted by The Sentinel claimed any knowledge of the group.

“I’ve never even heard of them,” Chamber of Commerce CEO Hope-Williams Morikawa said earlier this month.

Officials with the California Dental Association said that while their organization normally keeps track of dentists by name, they have never had any registered dentists affiliated with a Platinum Dental company in Hanford.

The city Finance Department says there are no businesses with the name “Platinum Dental” licensed to operate in Hanford.

Only one company is registered with the California Secretary of State’s Web site to operate under the name Platinum Dental, but it’s based out of San Marcos. Officials there said they have no affiliation with Hanford’s Platinum Dental.

Beaver said he called the company to ask the name of their practicing dentist, only to be immediately disconnected. A return call was answered by a message saying the number was no longer in service.

“I would tell anybody to be cautious about stepping in there,” Beaver said. “Their refusal to answer Sentinel phone calls combined with their peculiar telephone behavior raises a huge red flag to me. We cannot establish their legitimacy with the dental board and, combined with the bad check issue, we have every reason… to be cautious.”

The California Board of Dentistry could find no record of a dental license being issued to Platinum Dental, but an investigator said “this doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. We just have to look into the matter further.”

A Kings County resident who wished to remain anonymous told The Sentinel that her teeth were cleaned at the company’s 425 W. Seventh St. office by a dentist who “only drives down to Hanford on Wednesdays.” She said she didn’t recall the dentist’s name, but that he was based in Fresno.

A Sentinel reporter visited the company’s office on several occasions throughout the month of December and consistently found the location dark, with only a taped paper sign bearing the group’s logo on the door.

A representative of Platinum Dental who did not identify herself answered “no comment” when asked about the company’s possible involvement in check fraud and did not answer repeated return phone calls.

The group could potentially face such charges as the unauthorized practice of medicine, violation of the business and professions code and fraud, according to Beaver.

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San Jose CA dental employee convicted of embezzlement

San Jose’s Rochelle Banting was convicted in 2015 of felony grand theft, insurance fraud and forgery relating to her work in two dental offices.

In charge of the billing in two dentists offices over five years, Banting embezzled about $40,000, according to District Attorney Investigator Glenn McGovern.

“You cannot have one person be the only one who understands the billing process,” McGovern said. ” I see this more and more where they trust someone, they are the only one who understand the whole process and they get out of control.”

Banting was convicted of scamming her insurance carrier, which was not identified, by filing false claims for her, her husband or her six children, that were directly reimbursed to her. Later, at another dentist’s office, she directly pocketed cash payments from patients, McGovern said.

At the time that she was charged with these offenses, media reports indicated that she had left her family and was in hiding.

Banting, who may now be using the name “Chel Malig” and may be living in Sacramento, does have previous felony convictions in 2000 and 2001. There was an additional felony charge in 2011 that does not appear to have resulted in a conviction.

In 2019, Ms. Banting requested that we remove this post, on the basis that she had been “cleared”, but the documents and court record suggest otherwise.

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Cold Case Cracked — 1986 California Murder / Embezzlement case solved by retired detective

When Detective Dan Salcedo retired after more than 16 years investigating homicides for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, he wasn’t “looking to do anything other than [go to the] beach and golf.” But in the summer of 2014, just a few months after he’d left his desk, his old department came calling.The Orange County Sheriff’s Department was initiating a Cold Case Homicide Task Force, and they wanted to hire back a few retired investigators to work part-time and head up the team. It was an offer Salcedo, who has more than 200 homicide investigations under his belt, couldn’t resist. He was back, at least a few days a week, as a “part-time retired cold case homicide task force investigator,” as he tells LAist.

On March 7, 1986, Dr. Cedric Horn, a 77-year-old dentist, left his home for a business meeting in Northern California, with plans to also visit his daughter in Oregon. Horn never returned. His family members reported him missing on March 13, 1986. His body was never found, although his car did surface in Houston several weeks after he’d been reported missing.

According to the O.C. Register, a neighbor claimed at the time that Horn believed that one of his business partners, along with some of his money, had gone missing shortly before his own disappearance.

Steven White, a business associate of Horn’s, was identified as a person of interest in the case early on, but White had disappeared from Orange County shortly thereafter and the case had been gathering dust ever since.

The Cedric Horn case—which had been cold for nearly three decades—was one of the first that Dan Salcedo looked at when he returned to the force. Salcedo began to pour over the original case book, which had been assembled by the investigators who’d worked on the case in 1986 and 1987. Steven White’s name had been mentioned as a person of interest then, but “him disappearing from Orange County and not wanting to be contacted by our guys” had slowed things down.

On Dec. 12, 1987, White had been convicted by a Florida jury for murdering another business associate in April 1987, and had been in a Florida prison facility ever since.

“Really not much had been initiated, as far as his involvement in the Cedric Horn case,” Salcedo told LAist. But Salcedo pushed on, he found “some things that the guys back in the day had gathered that pointed to Steven White possibly being responsible for the disappearance.” Salcedo was not able to share details, but he said the evidence was sufficient enough for him and his partner to request a trip to Florida to speak with White about the case.

Salcedo and his partner William Griffin—another retired O.C. detective who had returned to the Cold Case task force part-time—traveled to Florida in May 2015.

After coordinating with Florida prison officials, Salcedo and Griffin went in to meet White, who is now 66. The suspect was “very cordial and very soft-spoken,” according to Salcedo.

If anyone could get a confession out of White, it would be Salcedo. In an O.C. Register story about his retirement, Saucedo’s colleagues and supervisors praised his “old-fashioned detective work,” saying he did his best “when sitting across the table from suspects or knocking on doors. More specifically, the detective was blessed with, as his last supervisor described it, ‘the gift of gab.'” Another supervised compared him to Columbo, the famously chatty ’70s-era television detective.

Griffin and Salcedo were cautiously optimistic as they went in to speak with White. They’d come a long way, but the case was still nearly three decades old, and they had no way of knowing if White would be cooperative, as Salcedo told LAist. They needn’t have worried.

“[White] let us know what the circumstances were both prior to and following Cedric Horn’s death, and that he was solely responsible for it,” Salcedo said.

“I don’t know that without us going here he would have ever confessed to anyone what he had done, ” Salcedo said, adding that he considers their trip to talk to him “well worth it.”

White arrived in California Wednesday, and made his first appearance in a Santa Ana courtroom this afternoon. Because White is already serving 25 years to life in his Florida sentence, he now faces a “special circumstance allegation of committing another murder,” meaning he would face at least life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of Horn’s murder, according to City News Service.

It’s believed that White befriended Horn to try and convince Horn to enter into business dealings with him, and White is accused of gaining access to Horn’s bank accounts and fraudulently transferring funds from Horn’s account into his own, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. White was charged with Horn’s murder shortly after Salcedo and Griffin returned from Florida, but he fought extradition charges, which is why it took almost a year for him to be brought to California.

“There certainly is a satisfaction in it,” Salcedo said.

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Drugs, Burglary and Embezzlement in California

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Suspect First Name

Suspect Last Name

Suspect Middle Name


Date of Birth

Arrest Date

12-12-2013 10:40:00








Place of Birth



Total Bond

Booking Date

12/12/2013 16:14


Lake County Law Enforcement arrested Fonda Rae Underwood on December 12, 2013. The charge against Underwood is POSS CONTRL SUBS PARAPH, POSS CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE, BURGLARY:FIRST DEGREE, EMBEZZLEMENT [OVER $950], a M. She weighs 220lbs with black hair and brown eyes;

Embezzlement isn’t always about stealing money — sometimes it is information

$500,000 credit card fraud fueled by information theft by dental office employee

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Grisha Stpanov opened a credit card, charged up $20,000, but never paid it back.

That’s because Stpanov doesn’t exist.

Stpanov, or at least his credit profile, was the creation of Arman and Wachagan Hovhannisyan, two brothers from California who were accused of scamming 21 banks and the three major credit reporting bureaus by inventing hundreds — possibly thousands — of fake identities, and charging $500,000 on fraudulent credit cards.

While it may sound like the plot of a Hollywood heist movie, anyone who understands how credit works can easily game the system.

Even after the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, banks are still doling out credit cards to any borrowers who look good on paper — even when that’s the only place they exist.

And the Hovhannisyan brothers are proof positive that most banks are still very susceptible to fraud.

How they did it

It all started when the Hovhannisyan brothers joined forces with a man named Jamal Hyde, who worked in a dentist’s office extending loans to patients and then reporting payments to Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus.

According to the government complaint filed in California federal court, which summarized the investigation, the brothers, along with Hyde, made up hundreds of fake social security numbers to establish false identities. The men then began reporting loan information and on-time payments for fictitious dental services to Experian.

Once the fake credit profiles had high credit scores, the men opened credit cards and took out loans, fooling issuers like Bank of America, Capital One , Wells Fargo , US Bank , Chase  and Discover. In all, the government estimated that the men duped at least 21 financial institutions.

At first, they paid off the balances on time to improve the fake scores. Eventually, they ended up with hundreds of cards with a combined $500,000 credit limit, which they used to pay their own bills and purchase two luxury automobiles, federal documents show.

The Hovhannisyans were eventually caught by the FBI. After pleading guilty to lesser charges, they were both sentenced to more than 20 months in prison for bank fraud and must each pay restitution of $486,143. They entered prison in March.

Hyde is scheduled to appear at his sentencing in May.

How they got caught

About a year into the scheme, Experian flagged the fake accounts, saying the loan amounts seemed unusually high for dental services and that the geographic distribution of the patients was also unusual.

A spokesman for Experian said the company did carefully vet the dental practice involved in the case, and worked with law enforcement as soon as Experian became aware of the scam.

“In [this case], the dentist’s office involved was a legitimate business, which hired a rogue employee who reported the account data in question,” he said.

The three men likely picked the social security numbers at random and simply made up names, addresses and dates of birth, according to the case documents.

(Even if a social security number is already in use, if the name and other information doesn’t correspond when a credit bureau receives it, a new profile can be created.)

When government agents received a search warrant to check the homes of the three men, they found hundreds of documents with account numbers, drivers licenses, social security numbers and other personal information relating to the many identities they created.

The fact that the scheme went on for a year means that it probably could have continued a lot longer if the men had been a little more careful, said John Ulzheimer, personal finance expert at

“They got greedy,” he said. “They were smart, but not smart enough — if they used modest credit lines and were more geographically sensitive, they could have kept it going.”

Why it could happen again

While this is considered a “victimless crime” since most of the “individuals” defrauded didn’t exist, (though the government believes several of the identities did belong to real people), the banks ultimately recoup fraud losses from their customers, said Ulzheimer.

“The takeaway from this case is that the system isn’t fool proof,” said Ulzheimer. “It can be manipulated. So it’s crucial that the credit bureaus do a good job making sure that folks who have credit profiles and access to reporting information are legitimate.”

But the job of the credit bureaus is to report the information given, not necessarily to take additional measures to determine its accuracy, said Jay Foley, founder of the Identity Theft Resource Center.

“The credit reporting agency may or may not realize there’s fraud, but they usually won’t do anything about it. Why would they? That’s not their job,” said Foley.

The banks disagree.

“Banks rely on the credit reporting, so they need to count on it being reliable,” said John Hall, spokesman for the American Bankers Association. “The weakest link in this case seems to be the credit reporting folks, because the product we get from them is only as good as it is accurate.”

While Experian said it typically alerts lenders to potential fraud, a spokeswoman from Wells Fargo said the bank doesn’t receive proactive alerts from credit bureaus. Instead, fraud risks are flagged through internal tools, network providers like Visa and MasterCard, merchants and customers.

A spokeswoman for Discover said the company advises merchants to use security processes to prevent fraud.

Capital One and US Bank could not be reached for comment, and the other major banks named in the complaint declined to comment.

“Our country still has no method of defining exactly who the customer is, how honorable the business reporting information is, or how accurate the information on the report is,” Foley said.

Creating better fraud prevention systems would be expensive, and consumers would likely end up paying, he added.

Experian said cases like this are rare. But if a more secure system isn’t developed, similar schemes could easily happen, Ulzheimer warned.

“These guys are almost trailblazers, they’ve proven the concept works, so now it’s just a matter of someone coming along and creating 25 more human beings and improving the process,” he said. To top of page

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Jamal Hyde release conditions:


Social Security No. 2 6 0 0 (Last 4 digits)


In the presence of the attorney for the government, the defendant appeared in person on this date. May 25 2011

Nina Marino (Name of Counsel)

X GUILTY, and the court being satisfied that there is a factual basis for the plea.


There being a finding/verdict of GUILTY, defendant has been convicted as charged of the offense(s) of:

Possession of at least 15 Counterfeit and Unauthorized Access Devices in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1029(a)(3) as charged in Count Seven of the Eight-Count First Superseding Indictment.

The Court asked whether there was any reason why judgment should not be pronounced. Because no sufficient cause to the contrary was shown, or appeared to the Court, the Court adjudged the defendant guilty as charged and convicted and ordered that: Pursuant to the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, it is the judgment of the Court that the defendant is hereby committed to the custody of the Bureau of Prisons to be imprisoned for a term of:

Five (5) years on Probation under the following terms and conditions:

The first twelve (12) months of probation shall be spent in a Residential Re-entry Center;

The defendant shall comply with the rules and regulations of the U. S. Probation Office and General Order 05-02;

The defendant shall refrain from any unlawful use of a controlled substance;

During the period of probation, the defendant shall pay the special assessment and restitution in accordance with this judgment’s orders pertaining to such payment;

The defendant shall apply all monies received from income tax refunds, lottery winnings, inheritance, judgments and any anticipated or unexpected financial gains to the outstanding court-ordered financial obligation;

The defendant shall not obtain or possess any driver’s license, Social Security number, birth certificate, passport or any other form of identification in any name, other than the defendant’s true legal name; nor shall the defendant use, for any purpose or in any manner, any name other than his true legal name or names without the prior written approval of the Probation Officer; and

The defendant shall cooperate in the collection of a DNA sample from the defendant.

It is ordered that the defendant shall pay to the United States a special assessment of $100, which is due immediately.

It is ordered that the defendant shall pay restitution in the total amount of $120,000 pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §3663A to victims as set forth in a separate victim list prepared by the probation office which this Court adopts and which reflects the Court’s determination of the amount of restitution due to each victim. The victim list, which shall be forwarded to the fiscal section of the clerk’s office by the probation officer, shall remain confidential to protect the privacy interests of the victims.

Restitution shall be due during the period of probation, at the rate of $100 per month or 10% of defendants’s gross monthly income, whichever is greater, and shall begin within 30 days from the pronouncement of judgment.

If the defendant makes a partial payment, each payee shall receive approximately The defendant shall be held jointly and severally liable with co-defendants Wachagan Hovhannisyan and Arman Hovhannisyan for the amount of restitution ordered in this judgment. The victims’ recovery is limited to the amount of their loss and the defendant’s liability for restitution ceases if and when the victims receive full restitution.

Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3612(f)(3)(A), interest on the restitution ordered is waived because the defendant does not have the ability to pay interest. Payments may be subject to nd delinquency pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3612(g).

The defendant shall comply with General Order No. 01-05.

All fines are waived as it is found that the defendant does not have the ability to pay a fine in addition to restitution.

It is recommended that the Bureau of Prisons conduct a mental health evaluation and provide all necessary treatment.

On Government’s motion, all remaining counts are ORDERED dismissed as to this To the extent defendant retained any rights to appeal, defendant is advised to file a notice of appeal within fourteen days.

Bond exonerated upon checking into the Residential Re-entry Center.

In addition to the special conditions of supervision imposed above, it is hereby ordered that the Standard Conditions of Probation and Supervised Release within this judgment be imposed. The Court may change the conditions of supervision, reduce or extend the period of supervision, and at any time during the supervision period or within the maximum period permitted by law, may issue a warrant and revoke supervision for a violation occurring during the supervision period.

U. S. District Judge

It is ordered that the Clerk deliver a copy of this Judgment and Probation/Commitment Order to the U.S. Marshal or other qualified

Clerk, U.S. District Court May 25, 2011 By Kendra Bradshaw Filed Date Deputy Clerk

The defendant shall comply with the standard conditions that have been adopted by this court (set forth below).


While the defendant is on probation or supervised release pursuant to this judgment:

The defendant shall not commit another Federal, state or

10. the defendant shall not associate with any persons engaged in criminal activity, and shall not associate with any person convicted of a felony unless granted permission to do so by the probation officer;

the defendant shall not leave the judicial district without the written permission of the court or probation officer; the defendant shall report to the probation officer as directed by the court or probation officer and shall submit a truthful and complete written report within the first five days of each month; the defendant shall answer truthfully all inquiries by the probation officer and follow the instructions of the probation officer; the defendant shall support his or her dependents and meet other family responsibilities; the defendant shall work regularly at a lawful occupation unless excused by the probation officer for schooling, training, or other acceptable reasons; the defendant shall notify the probation officer at least 10 days prior to any change in residence or employment; the defendant shall refrain from excessive use of alcohol and shall not purchase, possess, use, distribute, or administer any narcotic or other controlled substance, or any paraphernalia related to such substances, except as prescribed by a physician; the defendant shall not frequent places where controlled are illegally sold, used, distributed or

11. the defendant shall permit a probation officer to visit him or her at any time at home or elsewhere and shall permit confiscation of any contraband observed in plain view by the probation officer;

12. the defendant shall notify the probation officer within 72-hours of being arrested or questioned by a law enforcement officer;

13. the defendant shall not enter into any agreement to act as an informer or a special agent of a law enforcement agency without the permission of the court;

14. as directed by the probation officer, the defendant shall notify third parties of risks that may be occasioned by the defendant’s criminal record or personal history or characteristics, and shall permit the probation officer to make such notifications and to conform the defendant’s compliance with such notification requirement;

15. the defendant shall, upon release from any period of custody, report to the probation officer within 72-hours;

16. and, for felony cases only: not possess a firearm, destructive device, or any other dangerous weapon.

The defendant will also comply with the following special conditions pursuant to General Order 01-05 (set forth below).


The defendant shall pay interest on a fine or restitution of more than $2,500, unless the court waives interest or unless the fine or restitution is paid in full before the fifteenth (15th) day after the date of the judgment pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §3612(f)(1). Payments may be subject to penalties for default and delinquency pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §3612(g). Interest and penalties pertaining to restitution , however, are not applicable for offenses completed prior to April 24, 1996.

If all or any portion of a fine or restitution ordered remains unpaid after the termination of supervision, the defendant shall pay the balance as directed by the United States Attorney’s Office. 18 U.S.C. §3613.

The defendant shall notify the United States Attorney within thirty (30) days of any change in the defendant’s mailing address or residence until all fines, restitution, costs, and special assessments are paid in full. 18 U.S.C. §3612(b)(1)(F).

The defendant shall notify the Court through the Probation Office, and notify the United States Attorney of any material change in the defendant’s economic circumstances that might affect the defendant’s ability to pay a fine or restitution, as required by 18 U.S.C. §3664(k). The Court may also accept such notification from the government or the victim, and may, on its own motion or that of a party or the victim, adjust the manner of payment of a fine or restitution-pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §3664(k). See also 18 U.S.C. §3572(d)(3) and for probation 18 U.S.C. §3563(a)(7).

Payments shall be applied in the following order:

1. Special assessments pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §3013;

2. Restitution, in this sequence: Private victims (individual and corporate), Providers of compensation to private victims, The United States as victim;

3. Fine;

4. Community restitution, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §3663(c); and

5. Other penalties and costs.

UCLA Dental School employee accused of embezzlement

Tuesday, January 7, 1997


Suspect was employed by School of Dentistry; thought to have stolen some $50,000.

After five years of alleged embezzlement of funds from the UCLA School of Dentistry, a former school official was arrested last month in connection with the loss.

Joseph Castano, the former manager of the UCLA School of Dentistry’s Faculty Group Dental Practice, was arrested Dec. 19 on a warrant issued by the UCLA police department connecting him with embezzled funds totalling $50,600.

Charged with one count of grand theft and a second count of embezzlement, Castano was released on $100,000 bail shortly after the arrest. A preliminary hearing is set for Jan. 18.

The suspect, who was also a part-time law student, was placed on investigatory leave last February after a paper trail allegedly charged his spouse’s dental surgery to the school. Dental school
officials also allege that Castano charged law school textbooks to the school as well. Castano was fired from his position on March 29.

Following the discovery, internal auditors for the school were alerted to the situation and launched an in-depth investigation.

Auditors reported their findings to the police after completing the investigation last August.

According to university police, Castano allegedly submitted refund invoices for people who were never patients of the school or for patients of the school who were not due refunds.

Castano then allegedly filtered those funds out among family and friends, eventually landing them back in his own hands for personal use, police said. UCLA and dentistry school officials will seek reparation of the lost funds.

Officials said that the School of Dentistry takes the management of public funds very seriously and will charge Castano to the fullest extent of the law.

“There is no excuse for betraying the public trust,” said school Dean Rory Hume in a statement on the case. “The School of Dentistry takes very seriously its role to ensure responsible employee behavior,” he added.

Shortly after the allegations, the school implemented several changes in its accounting and management systems. All financial transactions are now electronically monitored and responsibility for cash management, refund approval and accounting are now distinct jobs that will belong to separate individuals.

Dentistry administrators are now in the process of restructuring the school manager’s job description and will hire an accounting manager for the new position.

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CA Dental Office Assistant Serving 120 Days In Jail For Fraud

Frances Aguirre, a 32-year old Dental Office assistant, has been prosecuted for Workers’ Compensation fraud.  Aguirre was charged by the Ventura County District Attorney with 3 Felony counts of Insurance Fraud.
Probe Information Services reported that Aguirre was working at Vista Village Dental as an office assistant when she alleged an industrial injury.  Aguirre was off work and receiving disability benefits and medical treatment when surveillance found her working at a mall kiosk. 
Probe Information Services’ investigator obtained a recorded statement wherein Aguirre denied concurrent employment or earning income. Employment records were located which provided wage and employment data for Aguirre concurrent to the time period in which she was receiving medical and disability benefits.  As a result of her misrepresentations, Aguirre received WC benefits to which she was not entitled. Probe’s SIU referred the case to the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office and felony criminal charges were filed and Aguirre was arrested and pled guilty to Insurance Code 1871.4(a)(1).  Last week Aguirre was formally sentenced to pay $35,060 in restitution for the theft of benefits, to serve 120 days in jail and 5 years of formal Probation.
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Santa Clara CA dental worker steals patient info, lands in prison


SAN FRANCISCO—Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. said six individuals arraigned today on identity theft charges “wreaked financial and emotional havoc” on victims by making tens of thousands of dollars in fraudulent charges in their names. The defendants face multiple felony counts of identity theft, conspiracy, possession of stolen property, and grand theft.

The identity theft ring was able to steal 20 identities and over $170,000 worth of cash, expensive clothing, jewelry and accessories. They bought flat screen TVs, a Gucci watch and $31,000 worth of merchandise from Neiman-Marcus. Members of the ring raised cash by returning items bought using fake identities.

“This criminal identity theft ring wreaked financial and emotional havoc on the victims, who will now endure hours of work fixing their credit and rebuilding their lives,” Brown said. “It’s important to keep these fraud rings from ripping off other victims.”

The six defendants face charges of violating California Penal Code section 182 for conspiring to commit identity theft, section 484 for theft, section 530.5 for identity theft, and section 496 for possession of stolen property. Possible sentences for each defendant range from a minimum of four years to a maximum of 27 years and four months.

The individuals facing charges today include:
• Matthew Medlin, 31, of Campbell.
• Jessica Campos, 30, of Santa Clara, also faces charges of violating California Penal Code section 502(c) for using dental office clients’ personal information.
• Chev Chan, 31, of San Jose, also faces charges of violating California Penal Code section 496 for receiving stolen property.
• Quang Le, 32, of Santa Clara. Le also faces charges of violating California Penal Code section 487 for grand theft.
• Daniel Lee Lesly, 31, of Los Altos. Lesly also faces charges of violating California Penal Code section 487 for grand theft.
• Nick Phuong Luu, 29, of Vallejo. Luu also faces charges of violating California Penal Code section 487 for grand theft, and section 496 for receiving stolen property.

In late 2009, Brown’s office was notified by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service that several individuals reported their social security numbers had been illegally used to apply for credit cards. The credit card information was sent to a San Jose residence later discovered to be the home of Chev Chan.

The subsequent investigation revealed that between June and December of 2009, the defendants, along with other unnamed suspects, engaged in an identity theft spree throughout the Bay Area. The ring’s leaders, Nick Luu and Chev Chan, used several San Jose, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, and Campbell addresses to divert the victims’ mail. Luu and Chan also had victims’ mail sent through false change-of-address forms and opened five Post Office boxes in San Jose.

Most of the victims’ identities were stolen from clients at a San Jose law office and Santa Clara dental office where two of the defendants worked.

During a search of Nick Luu’s residence, Brown’s office found 10 dental claim forms that contained patients’ names, addresses, dates of birth and social security numbers. The forms were given to Luu by Jessica Campos, an employee of the Santa Clara dental office, to use to manufacture fake identities. Campos was told by leaders in the ring to obtain current employers and addresses of Asian males who were about the same ages as the conspirators. As a result of Campos’ involvement, three dental office patients had their personal information used to make fraudulent purchases.

Chev Chan, used stolen identities to open Discover, Bank of America, and Chase credit cards while he worked at the San Jose law office. Chan used his work computer to change account addresses and open fraudulent credit card accounts under two victims’ names. Chan also used his employment address to receive mail and open two Post Office boxes under the victims’ names.

One of the defendants, Quang Le, was seen on video surveillance at Zales Jewelers in Eastridge Mall making a fraudulent purchase of $4,400. Le also racked up over $31,000 in fraudulent charges at Neiman-Marcus.

The fraud ring also opened fraudulent bank accounts and wrote dozens of checks. Daniel Lesly wrote 15 non-sufficient-funds checks totaling almost $2,000 from an account he fraudulently opened at Bank of America. The checks were written from the account to Target and Lucky’s. Lesly also returned a Gucci watch, previously purchased using a fake identity, and took over $2,000 in cash for the exchange.

To enable him to use the credit cards, defendant Mark Medlin used the victims’ identities to open credit lines and manufacture fake California driver’s licenses. These fraudulent driver’s licenses were used by Nick Luu, Chev Chan, and Quang Le.

Additional items purchased with the stolen identities include:
• A watch worth $8,150 from Ben Bridge Jewelers
• Merchandise worth $6,402 from Nordstrom
• A 55” flat screen television worth $3,277 from Sears online
• A 40” flat screen television worth $1,509 from Sears online
• Comforters and bedding worth $725 from Macy’s
• A Movado watch worth $1,281 from Kay’s Jewelers
• A Tag Heuer watch worth $4,485 from Macy’s
• Jewelry worth $8,150 from Ben Bridge Jeweler

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Beaumont, CA woman alleged to have embezzled more than $100k

A 35-year-old Beaumont woman has been arrested by deputies for allegedly stealing nearly $25,000 from a dentist’s office where she was office manager.

According to law enforcement, Yvonne Mendoza was arrested Jan. 5 at the Yucaipa dentist’s office where she had been employed for three years and admitted embezzling an average of eight, $500 credit card transactions a  month and depositing the money into her own account.

Investigators contend that about a year ago the suspect was made office manager at the dental office and, without the knowledge or approval of her employer, she changed her payroll status from an hourly to salaried employee.

Afterward, she allegedly began paying herself $8,000 a month, causing the business to suffer a loss of  about $96,000, sheriff’s investigators contended.

Over the course of several months, the investigators said, she transferred about $25,000 into her personal account.

Because of the fraud, according to deputies, the dental office sustained losses of more than $100,000.

Mendoza has been fired from the dental office. She was arrested for grand theft and embezzlement and has been released from custody on $50,000 bail.

Do you have questions about embezzlement?  Give Prosperident a call at 888-398-2327 or send an email to

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