SANTA BARBARA – An organized ring of credit card counterfeiters and identity thieves was apprehended last week at Santa Barbara County’s popular Chumash Indian Casino.
Responding to a call from casino management at approximately 2:45 p.m. Feb. 15, sheriff’s deputies contacted a man and woman who had each been using credit cards to obtain cash for gambling in the casino. Thomas Lamb, 47, and Cynthia Borjas, 36, were found to be in possession of fraudulent credit cards.
“It was obvious they had been working together throughout the day,” said sheriff’s spokesman Drew Sugars.
It was soon determined that Lamb was in violation of probation on prior charges of identity theft, and was booked into Santa Barbara County jail on charges of criminal conspiracy, commercial burglary, and use of a fraudulent credit card. His bail was set at $500,000. Borjas was booked on the same charges in addition to misappropriation of lost property and parole violation, and is being held without bail.
Subsequent investigation into the activities of Lamb and Borjas revealed three other people who had been working in concert with them at the casino that day.
“Deputies acted quickly to find these individuals before they left the area,” Sugars said.
On the following morning, Walter Harrsch, 45, Michael West, 46, and Ety Siauw, 42, were stopped in a vehicle at a nearby gas station. Detectives found substantial evidence of criminal activity inside the vehicle, including equipment used to make credit cards, documents bearing stolen identity information, drug paraphernalia, methamphetamine, and more than $1,000 in cash. All three suspects were booked into Santa Barbara County jail on charges ranging from criminal conspiracy and identity theft to multiple drug charges.
Michael West is currently held on $50,000 bail; Harrsch is held without bail on parole violation while Siauw is held on an immigration detainer.
Sugars indicated that the investigation into criminal activity at the Chumash Casino is ongoing. The department’s Detective Bureau currently seeks any additional information from the public, which may be anonymously reported to the SBSD Tipline at (805) 681-4171.