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Police: Group Used Gift Cards In Alleged Counterfeiting Scheme

(L-R) Raymond Walter Thomas, Whitney Michelle Okel, Brenda Wallace, and Sean Michael Wallace (courtesy: Fullerton P.D.)

FULLERTON ( — Four suspects in Orange County are facing burglary and other charges in an alleged counterfeiting scheme involving gift cards, police said Wednesday.

On March 5, detectives located and arrested four suspects in connection with an elaborate scheme that involved the production of counterfeit currency, which was then used to purchase American Express gift cards from Target stores, according to Fullerton police.

An investigation by Fullerton detectives, along with investigators from the US Secret Service and agents from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, resulted in the arrests of Raymond Walter Thomas, 41; Sean Michael Wallace, 38; and 40-year-old Brenda Wallace.

Investigators believe the group is responsible for thefts dating back to November 2012 and totaling more than $2,200 from locations in Fullerton, Orange, Buena Park, La Habra and Anaheim Hills.

The group is accused of counterfeiting $20 and $100 bills and then using the currency to purchase the American Express gift cards that could then be used for other purchases without arousing suspicions, Fullerton police Sgt. Jeff Stuart said.

The suspects were located and arrested at a motel in Costa Mesa, where they were in possession of $1,600 in counterfeit currency, as well as a printer, paper and other items used in the manufacture of the counterfeit currency, police said.

A fourth suspect, Whitney Michelle Okel, 34, was arrested at a mobile-home park in Santa Ana. It is alleged that they were printing as much as $1,200 dollars in counterfeit currency on a weekly basis.

All four were subsequently charged with multiple counts, including second-degree burglary, police said. As of June 25, 2013, court records indicate that all four defendants pleaded guilty to multiple counts.

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