California Fugitive Since 2012 Located in Utah Following $3.00 Credit Card Fraud

A fugitive from California wanted for murder since 2012 has been located in Utah after he committed a credit card fraud for a whopping $3.00.

Murder in California

Photo by: Tom Britt

In 2012, 29 year old Jordan Vigil was found dead in a garage in Castro Valley, California. The man suspected of his murder fled prior to police arriving on scene. Police assumed the suspect may have fled the country as he possibly had ties outside the United States. The case went cold until just recently when the suspect was located in Utah.

Credit card fraud in Utah

33 year old Cody Tripp was the sole suspect in the murder of Jordan Vigil in California but managed to steer clear of law enforcement’s radar for seven years. It wasn’t until Tripp made the mistake of fraudulently using another person’s credit card in Utah that he was eventually caught for credit card fraud as well as the seven year old murder. It isn’t known publicly what Tripp used the stolen card for, but the amount of just over $3.00 probably wasn’t worth it.

Criminal charges

Photo by: cafecredit.com

When someone unlawfully takes possession of another’s credit or debit card in Utah, it is considered a type of fraud – regardless of whether or not they used the card to go on a shopping spree or to buy a drink at a mini-mart. Credit card fraud that gets reported to police as what happened in this case is investigated thoroughly and penalized as a second or third degree felony, depending on the quantity of cards stolen. Utah Code 76-6-506.3 states “. . . an individual is guilty of a third degree felony who: acquires a financial transaction card from another without the consent of the card holder or the issuer”. If the person is in possession of 100 or more stolen cards, the charges are increased to a second degree felony.

Don’t run – Get an attorney

Tripp’s fraud charge in Utah is nothing compared to the homicide charge he faces back in California. Facing serious criminal charges can be frightening, especially when facing a charge that could mean life in prison or even the death penalty. Running from the law may buy a person some time, but it is always better to face a charge head on with the help of a reputable criminal defense attorney.

California Couple Arrested in Utah for Forgery after Creating and using Counterfeit Bills

A California couple was arrested for forgery in southern Utah after police discovered the duo had been washing and reprinting money to create counterfeit bills.

Fraudulent spending

Photo by: Travis Goodspeed

46 year old Dean Anthony Fagas and 38 year old Crista Jeanette Avila, both of southern California were arrested after a grocery store located in St. George, Utah reported a woman to have been trying to use what appeared to be counterfeit money. Police located the woman nearby and found her to be in possession of multiple hundred dollar bills that were not what they seemed.

Clean cash

After inspecting the bills officers determined them to be counterfeit and upon investigating further, found that other fake bills had been used at various stores throughout the St. George area. The woman, Crista Jeanette Avila, told officers that her boyfriend who was waiting for her at a motel would wash one dollar bills then reprint them as hundred dollar bills. Then Avila would use the fake bills at stores, returning to the hotel with the real monies she received as change. Officers went to the hotel where they found Dean Anthony Fagas and the equipment used to make the counterfeit bills. Although Fagas originally denied his involvement in the fraud scheme, he eventually said he was aware of what was going on but put the blame solely on Avila. Avila and Fagas were both arrested for fraud as well as forgery.

Forgery

Utah Code 76-6-501 states, “a person is guilty of forgery if, with purpose to defraud anyone, or with knowledge that the person is facilitating a fraud to be perpetrated by anyone, the person:

(a) Alters any writing of another without his authority or utters the altered writing; or
(b) Makes, completes, executes, authenticates, issues, transfers, publishes, or utters any writing so that the writing or the making, completion, execution, authentication, issuance, transference, publication, or utterance. . .”
That section also defines “writing” to include “printing, electronic storage or transmission, or any other method or recording valuable information including forms such as:
(i) Checks, tokens, stamps, seals, credit cards, badges, trademarks, money, and any other symbols of value, right, privilege, or identification. . . “

Monetary forgery is a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. Since currency is issued by the United States, counterfeiting currency can often end in federal charges as well. U.S. Code 18 USC 470 punishes counterfeiting currency with a fine and/or imprisonment of not more than 20 years.

Check for fake cash

Photo by: Neubie

While those who create counterfeit money can face criminal charges for their actions, so can those who end up with the fake cash when they unknowingly spend the fraudulent bills. Since most counterfeit money is found in higher valued bills, anyone using 20, 50 or 100 dollar bills are encouraged to be aware of any abnormalities in the print and feel of the monies. They should also look for identifying watermarks as well as any embedded thread or security strip. While looking for any watermark or thread can be done quickly by holding a bill up to the light, it is important to note that scammers will often use actual low value currency to create higher value counterfeit bills. Checking a bill in the light for ANY watermark or thread is not enough to avoid fraudulent bills since a five dollar bill could be bleached and reprinted as a 100 dollar bill. To avoid accepting fake cash, it is imperative that those accepting large bills ensure the watermark matches the portrait or the monetary value of the bill they are getting. Anyone facing charges for unknowingly using counterfeit bills should consult an attorney immediately.

Lawyers Arrested For Money Laundering After Baiting and Suing Porn Downloaders

Two lawyers and a sidekick were arrested for money laundering after authorities unraveled a plot the trio had created to bait illegal porn downloaders in order to turn around and sue them.

Legal knowledge

Photo by: Woody Hibbard

Minneapolis, MN lawyer Paul Hansmeier along with his brother Peter Hansmeier and co-conspirator John Steele used their legal expertise to not only sue individuals for pirating pornography, but to plant the movies on file sharing websites for the unsuspecting individuals to find. Hansmeier and accomplices created or obtained rights to pornographic movies before uploading the files to sites known for pirating movies. They then waited for downloaders to take the bait. Once the movies were downloaded, the trio claimed to be representing the companies who created the movies and sued those caught pirating. After collecting a three grand each settlement from hundreds of thousands of online downloaders, the million dollar illegal business was finally discovered and shut down.

Fraud and money laundering

Photo by: Chris Potter

After extorting the individuals pirating porn for nearly six million dollars, the phony legal team was busted and charged with fraud as well as federal charges for money laundering. Money laundering has been considered a federal offense since the Money Laundering Control Act of 1986 was passed. Section 1956 of the Act states: “Whoever, knowing that the property involved in a financial transaction represents the proceeds of some form of unlawful activity, conducts or attempts to conduct such a financial transaction which in fact involves the proceeds of specified unlawful activity. . . With the intent to promote the carrying on of specified unlawful activity; . . . knowing that the transaction is designed in whole or in part . . . to conceal or disguise the nature, the location, the source, the ownership, or the control of the proceeds of specified unlawful activity . . . shall be sentenced to a fine of not more than $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater, or imprisonment for not more than twenty years, or both.“ Hopefully with their background in the legal field, the criminal charges brought against the extortionists came as no surprise.