Two Chinese roommates residing in a Los Angeles County apartment stole $408,000 in merchandise during an identity theft operation that targeted high-end shops at Orange County’s South Coast Plaza mall, according to the U.S. Secret Service.
Special Agent Kendra Fuentes reports that on July 5, Zhi Huo Zhong and Lisheng Huang used a Bank of China debit card belonging to an unwitting China resident for purchases at stores including Cartier, Chanel, Van Cleef & Arpels, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany and Co. and Hermes.
The colorfully-dressed duo eventually caught the attention of South Coast Plaza security employees who spotted them leave the mall parking lot in a Honda Odyssey van bearing Nevada plates, which traced back to Huang and a Las Vegas address.
Both men obtained California driver’s licenses about a month after their alleged illegal shopping spree.
Before filing their Sept. 18 criminal complaint against Zhong and Huang inside Orange County’s Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse, special agents matched those license photographs with store surveillance footage.
The victim—who lives in Nanning, China, which is northeast of Hanoi—discovered more than 40 unauthorized transactions on his debit account during the thefts, withdrew funds, notified police and, thus, managed to block some of the later transaction attempts.
At least at this point, the case is being handled by U.S. Department of Justice officials in Los Angeles.
CNN-featured investigative reporter R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; earned six dozen other reporting awards; and been hailed by two New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing entrenched Southern California law enforcement corruption.