2 arrested in St. George for attempted fraud with fake IDs

ST. GEORGE — Two California men were arrested Thursday when officers were called to a cell phone retailer on North Bluff Street on a report that two men were inside of the store attempting to open lines of credit using what appeared to be false identification cards.

Officers in St. George searching a Honda following the arrest of two suspects attempting to purchase cell phone using allegedly fake identification cards, St. George, Utah, April 28, 2022 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Officers were also provided a description of the suspects.

When the first two officers arrived and were parking their patrol vehicles, they observed two Hispanic men leaving the retailer that matched the description.

When one man was approached by police, the report states, he told authorities he needed to go to the bathroom, which is when the officer repeatedly told him to stop.

When he reportedly failed to comply, the officer attempted to restrain him. He continued to resist until the officer was able to place him in handcuffs.

The officer obtained the suspect’s passport identifying the man as 31-year-old Christian Chavez of Pico Rivera, California.

Chavez told officers he was in the store with his friend, whom he identified only as “Alex.” Chavez claimed Alex was either paying his bill or possibly changing his cell phone number.

Chavez went on say he needed to use the restroom because his friend was taking so long inside of the cell phone store.

The report also states the second suspect described to police was no longer at the scene. Officers began circulating the area in search of the second suspect, identified as 26-year-old Hector Alexander Galvez, of Venice, California.

Galvez was found shortly thereafter attempting to take a Lyft ride when he was located by police.

When asked how the men got to the store, Galvez said he drove there in the white Honda that was in the parking lot in front of the cell phone store.

Meanwhile, officers inside of the store obtained the state-issued ID card that Galvez reportedly used to take out the line of credit. The card was purportedly issued out of California under the name of Jordan Meza, and upon closer inspection, the officer noticed that the photo on the ID card matched Galvez but appeared to have been “photoshopped,” the officer noted in the report.

Officers also learned the pair had also been at a cell phone retailer on River Road attempting to open a line of credit, similar to what took place on Bluff Street, but the attempt failed.

As soon as officers arrived at the Bluff Street store, Chavez attempted to stuff the ID card into one of the holes in the display case.

Galvez gave officers the name that was on the ID card, Jordan Meza, and the date of birth that was listed on the card. The officer told Galvez he thought the ID card was a fake.

The suspect admitted the card was fraudulent and said he only used it to get into clubs. However, he later admitted to using the ID card at the store in an attempt to purchase two phones.

The suspect initially told officers his name was Alex, and then later he said his name was Hector, and that Alex was his middle name.

Later, when officers recovered a California Identification Card under the name of Galvez, they ran it through dispatch. The physical description matched the man they were speaking with.

In the meantime, a K-9 unit indicated the possible presence of drugs and the car was searched.

During the search officers found 17 SIM cards from one cell phone carrier, along with three brand new iPhones connected to another carrier. All phones were recently purchased in St. George.

Officers in St. George respond to a cell phone retailer on Bluff Street on a report of two suspects attempting to purchase cell phone using allegedly fake identification cards, St George, Utah, April 28, 2022 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

They also recovered multiple loadable debit cards, as well as an electronic embossing device, which is used to imprint information on a plastic card, such as a credit, bank or gift card. Also seized were a laptop and $4,000 in cash that was sealed in black plastic bags.

Galvez told officers the cash belonged to him and was from a pawn shop where he had sold his watch, and when asked why the currency was sealed, the suspect said “this is how the pawn shop gave it to him,” according to the officer’s report.

Opening accounts under fake names appears to be a common scam that is circulating around the area, where suspects open lines of credit to purchase cell phones using fake identification, and then sell the phones they never paid for, according to the retailer.

The retailer said there was video of the attempt on River Road.

All items recovered from the car were seized by police, and authorities also noted the evidence suggests other retailers that have been defrauded by the suspects because of the number of cell phones and SIM cards recovered from the Honda.

Chavez and Galvez were transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility facing two third-degree felonies, including identity fraud and possession of a forgery-writing device. Galvez also faces one count of providing false information to law enforcement, while Chavez faces one count of failing to stop at command of law enforcement, both misdemeanors.

The officer requested they be held without bail, saying the two men are from out of state and neither has any ties to Utah, leading the officer to believe they “will not come back again.”

The request was also based on the fact that investigators need more time to follow up with a third cell phone retailer and other possible victims.

However, instead of a no-bail hold, each of the men are being held on $5,000 bail.

This report is based on statements from court records, police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2022, all rights reserved.

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