TWO ARRESTED ON FEDERAL CHARGES FOR ALLEGEDLY USING COUNTERFEIT CREDIT CARDS TO BUY HIGH-END ELECTRONICS
LOS ANGELES – Two Chinese nationals were arrested today on federal charges stemming from their role in a retail theft ring that used counterfeit credit cards to buy high-end electronics from Wal-Mart stores throughout the Los Angeles area.
Renjie Huang, 51, of Alhambra, and Yong Xu, 25, of Monterey Park, were taken into custody this morning by federal agents. The men were named in a 10-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury on July 1 that charges them with conspiring to use and traffic in counterfeit devices and using counterfeit access devices. If convicted, they each would face a statutory maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
Appearing in United States District Court late this afternoon, Huang and Xu pleaded not guilty to the charges in the indictment. Both men were ordered held without bond pending a trial that was scheduled for September 13.
This morning’s arrests are the result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the U.S. Secret Service.
Earlier this year, federal agents arrested a third defendant in the case, 28-year-old Gong Xu, of Alhambra (who is not related to Yong Xu). Gong Xu was taken into custody January 21, pleaded guilty in April to unauthorized use of an access device, and is scheduled to be sentenced on July 25. At sentencing, Gong Xu faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.
According to court documents, the theft ring has been active for at least the past year. The investigation revealed the defendants used counterfeit credits cards produced in China, along with stolen credit card information, to purchase expensive high-end electronics from Wal-Mart stores throughout Southern California. The electronics included iPods, laptop computers, cameras and Nintendo Gameboys. The indictment notes that when Gong Xu was arrested earlier this year, he was in possession of a list Wal-Mart stores, along with credit card numbers belonging to nearly 200 credit cards holders in the U.S. and overseas.
“We believe this theft ring is responsible for close to a half million dollars in financial losses,” said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for ICE HSI in Los Angeles. “These kinds of scams cause incalculable harm to both retailers and consumers. We need to send a message to those who perpetrate such rip offs that they will likewise pay a price.”
B. Bernard Ferguson, inspector in charge for the Los Angeles Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, stated: “Individuals who use the U.S. Mail to perpetuate their criminal enterprises, including victimization of the American retail and banking sectors, will be aggressively pursued by postal inspectors. We are committed to working with our law enforcement partners in these investigations.”
Jim Kollar, assistant special agent in charge of the Secret Service’s Los Angeles Field Office, commented: “This is another example of several federal agencies collaborating to come to a positive and successful outcome in a joint investigation. The Secret Service is committed to continuing the efforts with our federal partners to combat these types of crimes in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.”
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
Release No. 11-103
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