GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Four people face criminal charges after being found with more than a hundred counterfeit credit cards and thousands of dollars in apparently ill-gotten merchandise.
Mercedes Cruz-Diaz, 42; Jessica Garcia-Hernandez, 21; Edel Montero-Perez, 22; and Shantiell Portuondo, 18, are now in the Kent County jail, each facing charges of unlawful use of a financial transaction device, conducting a criminal enterprise, conspiracy and identity theft.
Police were tipped off to suspicious behavior from the suspects by a loss prevention manager for Ulta Beauty. According to court documents, authorities say the four suspects had been to three Ulta stores in Kent County and used multiple credit cards to buy gift cards and merchandise. At one of the stores, when a credit card was denied, one of the suspects simply pulled out another to pay.
The Ulta loss prevention manager thought credit card fraud may be involved, so he tried to get the license plate number on the suspects’ car. He couldn’t, but he remembered what it and the suspects looked like and happened to spot it later as he was driving. He followed it to an area Olive Garden, at which point he called police.
Officers from the Grand Rapids Police Department later stopped the suspects and found they had “various identifications, multiple credit cards and numerous gift cards,” according to the court records.
Investigators say that when they searched the suspects’ vehicle and the Motel 6 where they were staying, they found more than 100 counterfeit or cloned credit cards bearing various names. Police say they also found thousands of dollars in merchandise from various stores, some of which looked like it had been prepared for shipping. Receipts recovered indicated more items had already been shipped to Miami.
The suspects were booked in to the Kent County Correctional Facility on May 4 and are each being held there on $1 million bond.
Three of them — Garcia-Hernandez, Portuondo and Montero-Perez — on Thursday waived their preliminary exams, sending their cases to circuit court. Cruz-Diaz is currently scheduled to be back in court on June 2 for her preliminary exam.