Judge denies bail for 2 suspects allegedly found with 100 fraudulent gift cards – St George News

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ST. GEORGE – Two suspects were denied bail reductions during a hearing on Tuesday after they were arrested last week for multiple offenses related to a financial card scheme.

File photo for illustration purposes only of City of Washington Police Officers responding to an incident near Red Robin in Washington City, Utah on October 22, 2021 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St George News

The precious Marie Powell, 33, and co-defendant Deniqka Annette Mone Allen, 30, appeared in 5th district court on Tuesday. Both are residents of Contra Costa County, about 45 miles east of San Francisco, California.

During the hearing, District Judge Eric A. Ludlow denied their bail reduction request and both remain in custody without bail. Allen is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on August 20, while the hearing in Powell’s case will take place on August 8, when the bail amount in each of the cases continues to be considered, according to court records.

The hearing follows an arrest set in motion on July 7 when a patrol officer was dispatched to a report of possible fraud at Walmart on Telegraph Street just after 10 p.m. in Washington City.

The officer responded to the store and spoke to an employee who said he called the police after two women tried to pay for multiple multi-dollar gift cards using multiple bank cards — many of which were declined because the documents were charged .

The employee said the activity was suspicious and something they often see in the store display of customers allegedly using stolen credit cards or stolen information printed on blank financial cards. Those cards, the employee said, would then be used to, for example, load money onto gift cards — a tactic designed to make tracking the stolen cards and money more difficult.

The store’s security footage showed the two women using the multiple cards to purchase the gift cards before exiting the store. Footage also showed the couple getting into a maroon Mitsubishi Outlander and driving away. Officers also noted that the SUV had an Illinois license plate, and when the tag was run through emergency dispatch, the report said officers learned it belonged to a rental vehicle.

2020 file photo for illustration purposes only of the outdoor parking area of ​​the Walmart store in Washington City, Utah on July 15, 2020. | Photo by Chris Reed, St George News

Shortly thereafter, officials in Washington City were notified that the vehicle had been spotted at a gas station by an officer in St. George.

Officers responded to the gas station where they found the maroon car, which matched the one shown in the Walmart footage, and the occupants also matched the two suspects seen on the Telegraph at the store. The driver was later identified as Powell through her California driver’s license, while the passenger was identified as Allen.

During the stop, officers conducted a search of the Mitsubishi and recovered multiple prepaid debit cards and gift cards belonging to both suspects.

Officials also obtained documentation showing that multiple gift cards were purchased for about $450 each, while 11 of the transactions failed when the allegedly stolen bank cards were declined.

Each transaction listed the last four digits of the card used. Most of the fees were for the purchase of prepaid gift cards, about $450 each. They provided documentation where at least 11 cards were declined.

When the officer attempted to match the cards found during the stop with the transaction records, he found that the card numbers did not match the records.

Powell allegedly told the officer that they bought gift cards using other gift cards as payment. She explained that the bank cards are not read by the card reader, so they cannot use the cards at other retail locations.

When questioned, Powell also said they put small amounts on each card, but then changed their story and said they tried loading each of the cards multiple times with smaller amounts. The officer also noted that the cards looked new, so he saw no reason why the cards couldn’t be read by the card reader – as the suspects had claimed.

Following the arrests, a criminal background check of both suspects revealed that this “was not the first time they have been charged with fraud,” the officer wrote, leading to previous convictions for both. The couple also have multiple counts of cheating in California, and Allen also has a history of cheating in Colorado — multiple counts involving fraudulent card possession. They also found an active warrant issued by California for Allen’s arrest for failing to appear in court.

Salt Lake International Airport in Salt Lake City, Utah, date not given | Image courtesy of Salt Lake International Airport, St. George News

Officers then learned that the women had flown to Salt Lake City that same day and then rented a car to travel to southern Utah. Once there, the suspects went to the Washington City Walmart and directly to the St. George Walmart to obtain additional gift cards that allegedly used stolen card information.

Officers obtained approximately 100 cards between the two suspects, and based on the significant amount of evidence gathered, the officer wrote, the incident warranted further investigation by detectives.

Additionally, none of the suspects have ties to Utah, and both Allen and Powell appear to be “making careers fraudulently obtaining money through the use of recoded cards.” The officer then demanded that both women be held without bail. The application was approved last week and the couple remain in jail pending bail reduction hearings.

This report is based on testimony obtained from court records, the police or other emergency services and may not contain the full scope of the findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty by a court or otherwise determined by a hearing of evidence.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2022, All Rights Reserved.

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