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NEWS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI


JOHN F. WOOD


Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html


OCTOBER 4, 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


PERUVIANS INDICTED FOR CREDIT CARD THEFT, FRAUD;

CONSPIRACY TARGETED ELDERLY WOMEN


            KANSAS CITY, Mo. – John F. Wood, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that three Peruvian nationals have been indicted by a federal grand jury for participating in a conspiracy to steal credit cards from elderly women, then make thousands of dollars in purchases with the stolen credit cards.


             Carlow Vidaurre, 40, Jeans Vega-Iturrino, 29, and Felix Jimmy Vega-Iturrino, 36, all citizens of Peru living in California, were charged in a five-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Kansas City on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2007. Jeans Vega-Iturrino is the sister of Felix Vega-Iturrino.


             The federal indictment alleges that all three of the co-defendants participated in a conspiracy to steal credit cards and to use those credit cards to purchase merchandise and gift cards at retail stores in Missouri (in Independence and Lee’s Summit) and Kansas (in Overland Park, Olathe and Lenexa).


             According to the indictment, all three of the co-defendants traveled from California to Kansas City, Mo., in order to steal credit cards. The indictment alleges that they targeted elderly women who were shopping, employing distraction techniques to steal their wallets and credit cards so that the thefts could be accomplished without the victims becoming aware that their belongings were being stolen. Before the victims realized the cards had been stolen, and before the victims could contact their credit issuers to cancel the cards, conspirators allegedly used the stolen credit cards to purchase digital cameras, laptop computers, Ipods and other merchandise as well as gift cards.


             Conspirators allegedly packaged the stolen items and had them sent to California, where accomplices would hold them until the conspirators returned from Kansas City.


             In addition to the criminal conspiracy charge, the indictment charges each of the defendants with four counts of access device fraud. Vidaurre is also charged with three counts of interstate transportation of property taken by fraud and one count of reentering the United States after having been deported in November 2000.


             The indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation, which would require the defendants to forfeit to the government any property derived from the proceeds of the alleged offenses, including five laptop computers, eight Canon digital cameras, 29 Apple Ipods, and $3,000, all of which was seized by law enforcement officers from two residences and a Federal Express facility in Van Nuys, Calif., as well as the following items seized from the defendants: gift cards from Best Buy, Cheesecake Factory and Target, a one-carat diamond ring, a 1/10th-carat yellow gold men’s ring and $735.


            Wood cautioned that the charges contained in the indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.


            This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John E. Cowles. It was investigated by the Overland Park, Kan., Police Department and the U.S. Secret Service.

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This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html