Identity Thief Leads the High Life

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Harold Larson

A 36-year-old man apparently living the high life, hopscotching for months between Laguna Beach and Costa Mesa resort hotels by using purloined credit card information, was arrested last week by Laguna Beach police.

On Monday, April 16, 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 since February, according to the county courts website. A preliminary hearing is 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 explained Tuesday. “On several instances, he left prior to the departure day, giving the hotel room to someone else,” said Rahaeuser, and would move on to another hotel and use different credit card information.

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 cards information was not used elsewhere, police said.

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 legitimate bank accounts.

Police said unspecified leads eventually led 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.

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