Stolen credit cards allegedly used to book Bay Area hotel rooms 

click to enlarge Andrea Chestnut, 28, Arthur Elbert, 38, and Liesta Masellis, 26, were all arrested in South San Francisco and evidence of credit card fraud was found at the scene.
  • Andrea Chestnut, 28, Arthur Elbert, 38, and Liesta Masellis, 26, were all arrested in South San Francisco and evidence of credit card fraud was found at the scene.

They are all prisoners of their own device.
Some of the less brilliant credit card thieves of our time have been living it up at San Mateo County hotels recently, apparently unaware that victims can easily get wind of activity on their plastic.
And before the suspects can get cozy over pink Champagne on ice, law enforcement agencies storm in and force them to check out — but not leave.
Take the Aug. 29 case of three suspected thieves who booked a room at the Embassy Suites in South San Francisco. They used a credit card that had been stolen from a Los Angeles woman, according to prosecutors, and the woman got a call from her financial institution about the odd charge.
“She called police, who determined that all three defendants were in the room that had been rented with the victim’s credit card,” San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.
When police arrived, prosecutors said, the hotel was no longer such a lovely place for the suspects. Police reportedly gathered a feast of evidence that indicated a fake credit-card-making operation was taking place in the room. Andrea Chestnut, 28, Arthur Elbert, 38, and Liesta Masellis, 26, were all arrested.
In a separate case last month, it was apparently a woman in the hotel doorway who showed police the way to a room full of crooks.
On Jan. 25, prosecutors said, two more suspects were arrested after booking a room at the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay. Paige Boswell, 20, of Redding and Robert Spiva, 29, of Walnut Creek reportedly booked the room with a stolen credit card and a nonmatching stolen ID card, easily tipping off a hotel employee.
However, the female clerk said there was plenty of room at the hotel for the suspicious pair, and her decision to keep them there would help lead to their arrest.
“[The clerk] rented the room and later called the Sheriff’s Office,” Wagstaffe said.
When police arrived, they reportedly found credit cards, checks and mail in the names of 17 people. In the suspects’ vehicle, stolen items from 26 more people were recovered.
Court proceedings for suspects in both cases are ongoing.
maldax@sfexaminer.com

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