Hundreds of stolen gift cards discovered in Ventura County 'card drain' scheme, two arrested


Two people have been arrested in Ventura County in connection with a “card drain” theft scheme that saw them steal hundreds of gift cards.

The Ventura County Sheriff's Office identified the suspects as 39-year-old Tingxiang Yang and 35-year-old Chen Lingyu.


On May 10, detectives conducted an undercover raid at a retail store in the 800 block of New Los Angeles Boulevard in Moorpark.

A “blitz” refers to an operation in which plainclothes detectives and uniformed officers work with store loss prevention staff to identify and apprehend suspected thefts.

During the operation, store security alerted plainclothes police and discovered two men removing a large number of gift cards from a store display case and hiding them in bags.

As the men left the store, they were immediately detained by detectives.

On May 10, 2024, 800 stolen gift cards were discovered in Ventura County in a
On May 10, 2024, 800 stolen gift cards were discovered in Ventura County in a “card skimming” scheme, and two suspects were arrested.

During the arrest, approximately 800 stolen gift cards were discovered. Authorities believe the cards were taken from several nearby stores in addition to the Moorpark store.

“The gift card thefts are believed to be directly related to an organized theft strategy known as 'card draining,'” officials said.

Bust photos show that most of the gift cards are from Apple, Target, Visa and Razer Gold, with each card costing between $25 and $200.

With card skimming, thieves remove gift cards from store shelves, open them, and then record the card number and PIN (Personal Identification Number) or replace them with new barcodes.

The thieves then repair the packaging and place the gift cards back on the store shelves where they were stolen.

When a customer makes a purchase and deposits money to one of the compromised cards, a thief can access the card online and steal the balance before the customer realizes what has happened.

“These types of thefts have resulted in millions of dollars in losses to victims across the country who unknowingly purchased stolen gift cards,” deputies said.

Both suspects were arrested on felony charges of conspiracy to commit organized retail theft. They both posted $20,000 bail and were later released. A court hearing is scheduled for May 24 in Ventura County Superior Court.

The incident remains under investigation by the Ventura County Organized Retail Theft Task Force.

“The task force's goal is to provide a safe environment for everyone while working hand-in-hand with retailers, law enforcement agencies and the public to identify, locate and apprehend criminals involved in these crimes,” officials said.

Anyone with information about the theft or similar cases is asked to call the Ventura County Task Force: 805-383-8703.

You can provide anonymous tips to Los Angeles Area Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-8477 or visiting lacrimestoppers.org.



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