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Two Chinese citizens arrested for allegedly operating sophisticated gift card scam

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Deputies seize 800 allegedly stolen gift cards from two Chinese nationals

Deputies seize 800 allegedly stolen gift cards from two Chinese nationals


Ventura County detectives with the region’s retail theft task force arrested two suspected Chinese nationals for allegedly carrying out a sophisticated gift card scam.

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said deputies arrested the two men during a “blitz” operation in Moorpark last Friday. A “blitz” operation embeds undercover detectives and uniformed deputies with store loss prevention officers to arrest shoplifters and shut down organized crime rings. 

The task force was staking out a large retail store in the 800 block of New Los Angeles Avenue when the business’ security guards alerted them to two men stealing numerous gift cards from a rack and stuffing them into a bag. The deputies arrested the two men shortly after they left the store. 

Detectives said they arrested 39-year-old Tingxiang Yang and 35-year-old Lingyu Chen with about 800 gift cards allegedly stolen from the Moorpark store and other retail stores. Investigators linked the thefts to an organized theft tactic called “card draining.” In these scams, thieves steal gift cards from stores, open them, record card numbers and PINs, or replace the barcodes.

Then, they return to the stores with the newly repackaged cards and place them back on the racks. When a customer purchases the card and loads money onto it, the suspects access the account and drain it. 

Yang and Chen were arrested on felony charges of conspiracy to commit organized retail theft and booked into a Ventura jail. They posted bail and are expected to appear in Ventura County Superior Court on May 24.

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