Identity Thief Leads the High Life
A 36-year-old man who caromed between 11 resort hotels in Laguna Beach and Costa Mesa over the past four months by using purloined credit card information was arrested last week by Laguna Beach police.
Harold Eric Larson, 36, of Orange, entered not guilty pleas in Newport Beach’s Harbor Court to 20 felony counts stemming from charges involving burglary, fraud and identity theft on Monday, April 16, according to the county courts website. A preliminary hearing was set for April 26.
Larson would make hotel room reservations for several days over the phone using fraudulently obtained credit card information, Sgt. Robert Rahaeuser said Tuesday. “On several instances, he left prior to the departure day, giving the hotel room to someone else,” said Rahaeuser, who explained that Larson would move on to another hotel and another credit card account.
Between his four resort stays in Laguna and seven in Costa Mesa since January, Larson typically would also ring up significant room tabs for food and drink, Rahaeuser confirmed.
Neither the cardholders nor the hotels were aware of Larson’s fraudulent actions until contacted by police, he said. The card information was not used beyond hotel stays, according to Rahaeuser.
But when he was arrested in Costa Mesa’s Marriott hotel last week, Larson allegedly was in possession of cashier’s checks totaling $32,000 made out to an additional 39 identity theft victims, said Rahaeuser, who speculated Larson intended to obtain cash by depositing and withdrawing the funds from the respective accounts of legitimate bank customers.
Police said unspecified leads eventually led them to Larson. Documents seized from his last hotel stay link him to the scam, according to police.
Rahaeuser declined to say how Larson allegedly obtained the card information.
Detectives are continuing to look for other victims. “We are now tracking the dates he was at hotels and learning which other hotels he stayed at,” said Rahaeuser, who believes the scheme began in January.
At the time of his most recent arrest, Larson was wanted for arrest warrants for driving while under the influence, police said. In 2009, Larson pled guilty to DUI, court records show.
Monday, April 9
Illegal lodging. 4:31 p.m. Laguna Canyon Rd. Police were called to meet the park ranger, who had discovered a transient setting up an encampment. The 58-year-old man was arrested for unspecified charges and held for $2,500 bail.
Occupied vehicle. 10:41 p.m. Avalon St. An 18-year-old from Aliso Viejo was arrested for suspicion of DUI and held for $2,500 bail.
Traffic stop. 9:03 p.m. Oak St. An 82-year-old Rancho Mirage man was arrested for suspicion of DUI and held for $2,500 bail.
Battery. 11:08 p.m. 600 block of S. Coast Hwy. The reporting party was attacked by a male with a tool and has a knee injury as a result.
Tuesday, April 10
Traffic stop. 12:19 a.m. Nyes Place. A 27-year-old Rancho Santa Margarita man was cited for DUI and held for $2,500 bail.
Traffic collision. 400 block of Broadway St. Moises Hernandez, 40, was arrested for two misdemeanor warrants for driving on a suspended license when he arrived to pick up passengers involved in a collision. Bail was $30,000.
Fraud. 9:36 a.m. 2200 block Glenneyre St. The victim’s name was used to open up a phone account and $348.63 in charges accrued.
Wednesday, April 11
Fraud. 10:33 a.m. Vista del Sol. A $70 unauthorized charge was made to the victim’s credit card.
Locked out. 11:17 a.m. N. La Senda. Six kids, initially stuck in a 30-foot high lighthouse, freed themselves through a door that eventually opened.
DUI 9:44 p.m. Emerald Bay. A Florida resident, 42, was arrested for DUI and held for $2,500 bail.
Thursday, April 12
Unusual circumstances. 5:32 p.m. A potential customer entered the bank but found no one inside, though the lights were on. Police contacted the responsible party.
Warrant service. 9:03 p.m. 1000 block Summit way. A 55-year-old Laguna Beach man was arrested for an outstanding warrant and held for $15,000 bail.
Friday, April 13
Traffic stop. 12:10 a.m. Coast Hwy. A 37-year-old woman was arrested for DUI and held for $2,500 bail.
Ped stop. 2:48 a.m. 100 block of Brooks St. A Placentia man was held for an outstanding warrant and $15,000 bail.
Saturday, April 14
Traffic stop. 7:32 a.m. S. Coast Highway at Agate St. A 20-year-old Mission Viejo man was held for DUI.
Vandalism. 200 block of Crescent Bay Dr. Beach side vandalized.
Possible arson. 1:11 p.m. Thurston Middle School.
Burglary. 4:53 p.m. 31600 Scenic Dr. Unknown suspect entered a home through an unlocked door and took computers and jewelry valued at $2,100.
Disturbance. 400 block of Legion St. 11:01 p.m. As a result of an argument with another woman where death threats were allegedly made, Amy Pembrook Walker, 53, of Laguna Beach, was arrested for suspicion of making terrorist threats and held for $50,000 bail.
Sunday, April 15
Traffic stop. 12:25 a.m. Canyon Acres Dr. A 37-year-old Maywood woman was arrested for DUI and held for $2,500 bail.
Traffic stop. 300 block Cliff Dr. A 35-year-old Aliso Viejo woman was held for DUI and bail was set at $10,000.
Hit and run. 1:46 a.m. 600 block S. Coast Hwy. A 23-year-old Santa Ana man was held for DUI and $2,500 bail.
Traffic stop. 2:25 a.m. 200 block of Forest Ave. A 24-year-old Laguna Beach man was held for DUI and $2,500 bail.