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Sonoma County detectives bust up suspected credit card ring

Sonoma County sheriff's detectives have arrested five people suspected of making fake credit cards in a Rohnert Park hotel room, then using the bogus cards at the Graton Resort & Casino and other businesses.

Property crimes detectives began investigating the case Saturday after deputies arrested two people trying to withdraw money from an ATM at the Rohnert Park casino using counterfeit credit cards, Sgt. Mike Raasch said Monday.

While arresting the second person, the deputy learned the cards were being manufactured in a Rohnert Park hotel room, Raasch said. He alerted property crimes detectives, who headed to the hotel to investigate, Raasch said.

Inside a hotel room, they found several stolen credit cards in a number of different names, a credit card reader, several laptop computers and several blank credit cards, Raasch said.

Detectives believe the group was using the equipment in the room to make fake cards, then using the cards and stolen identification at the nearby casino and other businesses.

While investigating, detectives also found two Mercedes-Benz which they believe the group stole from rental companies by using fake credit cards to rent the vehicles, then never returning them, Raasch said.

The group also rented the hotel room using fake identification, Raasch added. The hotel manager told detectives he'd been suspicious.

"He was great, very cooperative," Raasch said of the hotel manager.

Detectives arrested Michael Anger, 32, Robert Serrato, 37, and Nicole Dunlap, 30, all from San Francisco, as well as Jhona Mathews, 33, of Walnut Creek and Zephyr Carter, 41, from Hayward.

All five were arrested Saturday on suspicion of a range of crimes, including forgery, theft of credit card information, manufacturing false identification documents, burglary, possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of methamphetamine, conspiracy and vehicle theft.

Detectives are still investigating the complex case and trying to identify possible victims, Raasch said. So far, it doesn't appear that any of the stolen items were taken from Sonoma County residents. Raasch asked that anyone with information call 565-2185.


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