The Los Angeles Police Department says that 13 people were caught at a Van Nuys motel on Tuesday. They were thought to be running an identity theft and Electronic Benefits Transfer card theft ring and have ties to a Romanian crime group.
The LAPD said in a news release that authorities served a search warrant at a motel in the 4700 block of Sepulveda Boulevard. They found credit card skimming devices, card readers, more than $36,000, and a lot of fake ID cards and papers.
Police found out about the suspects from a tip from the public. The LAPD says the suspects may be part of a Romanian group that targets poor people for their EBT cards.
The LAPD said that the suspects took millions of dollars from ATMs in California by using card skimmers to take money out of EBT accounts.
The LAPD said that for the last two years, it has been working with the U.S. Secret Service and other state and local law enforcement agencies as part of the Southern California High Tech Task Force to stop EBT fraud.
Officials say that more than $19.6 million in EBT benefits were stolen in Los Angeles County in 2022. This is more than 20 times as much as the year before when the county lost less than $1 million. This January, the county lost more than $2.9 million, which is a record for a single month.
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