Identity Theft Investigation May Include More Victims
Detectives from the Palmdale Sheriff's Station are conducting an identity theft investigation that has a link to the Santa Clarita Valley and are seeking public assistance in locating other potential victims.
The investigation began in January when a Camarillo resident reported to the Ventura County Sheriff's Department that someone had used her bank debit card without her authorization to make a purchase over the Internet.
Detectives from the Ventura County Sheriff's Department began investigating and quickly determined the online transaction had originated from the city of Palmdale and the merchandise shipped to a Palmdale area address in the 3500 block of East Avenue R. The victim had no idea how her debit card information was obtained by the suspects.
Detectives from the Palmdale Sheriff's Station were notified and took over the investigation. On Friday, March 4, the Palmdale Sheriff's Station served a search warrant at the above location. During the service of the search warrant and the subsequent follow-up investigation, detectives determined there were at least three suspects allegedly involved in several incidents of theft of identification information and/or the unauthorized use of the credit or debit card information.
Detectives were also able to identify two additional victims whose personal and credit information was jeopardized or used in fraudulent Internet purchases which were delivered to the same address. Palmdale detectives determined that the three victims, who resided in Groves, Texas; Chino Hills and Camarillo, California all had one common link to Specialty Laboratories -- 27027 Tourney Road in Valencia. Each victim had recently provided credit or other personal identification information to an employee at the laboratory in payment for previous services.
Detectives determined that one of the suspects, Molly Fontenot, 29, of Palmdale, was an employee of Specialty Laboratories working in a billing capacity and may have had access to each of the victims credit information. Fontenot was arrested on March 11 on suspicion of felony charges of obtaining credit information with the intent to use it fraudulently. She was booked at the Palmdale Sheriff's Station and has since been released on her own recognizance pending future court proceedings.
Specialty Laboratories has been notified and has launched their own internal investigation into the alleged theft of information. They are working closely with the Santa Clarita Valley and Palmdale Sheriff's Station to determine what customer information the suspect may have had access to during the course of her employment. Detectives believe there may be other victims who have not yet come forward or who have reported similar incidents of fraudulent credit card transactions in other areas or states.
Anyone who has conducted recent business transactions with Specialty Laboratories in Valencia and has also been a victim of fraudulent credit or debit card charges is asked to immediately contact the Palmdale Sheriff's Station -- Detective Layne Arnold at (661) 272-2469. Potential Santa Clarita victims should contact Sergeant Jim Anderson at (661) 799-5136.