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    United States Attorney's Office
    Central District of California

    Thom Mrozek
    Public Affairs Officer

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    Release No. 10-120

    August 18, 2010


    The owner of Chez Gabriela Studio in Beverly Hills was arrested this afternoon on federal fraud charges for allegedly taking credit card information from celebrity clients and running up hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulent charges.

    Maria Gabriella Perez, 51, of Beverly Hills, was arrested without incident at her salon by special agents with the United States Secret Service. A criminal complaint that led to today’s arrest charges Perez with two counts of access device fraud, charges that carry a maximum statutory penalty of 25 years in federal prison.

    The affidavit in support of the criminal complaint alleges that Perez ran up approximately $68,000 in unauthorized charges on a credit card belonging to the designer of high-end jewelry. Most of the charges were made from Chez Gabriela Studio when the numbers from the credit card were entered manually, meaning that the card was not “swiped.” The victim told investigators that “she had spoken with several other high-profile victims who stated that, after legitimately paying for services at the Studio, charges from the Studio would appear on their credit cards without authorization,” according to the affidavit.

    An investigator with American Express also told the Secret Service that he had discovered approximately $214,000 in fraudulent charges that were made from Chez Gabriela Studio to two American Express credit cards that had been issued to an actor.  These charges were incurred over a five-month period in 2009.

    Perez is expected to make her initial appearance this afternoon in United States District Court in Los Angeles.

    A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

    The case against Perez is being investigated by the United States Secret Service.


    Release No. 10-120

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