A U.S. Secret Service team arrived in Calaveras County after a Reno couple was arrested May 14 on charges of identity theft, forgery and possession of drug paraphernalia.
According to the Angels Camp Police Department, the couple is suspected to be “involved in the international trade of identity theft-related information.”
Lori Dahl, 48, and her husband, William Lewis, 49, were arrested at 8:50 a.m. in Angels Camp, where they were staying in a motel, on suspicion of identity theft and drug charges. Lewis was booked on suspicion of conspiracy to commit a crime, burglary, possession of stolen property, forgery, possessing forged currency, identity theft, possession of narcotic paraphernalia and possession of hypodermic syringes. Dahl was booked on suspicion of identity theft, forgery, possession of stolen property, possessing forged currency and conspiracy to commit a crime.
“Evidence items recovered at the scene indicate that this couple has been making purchases throughout Northern California,” the department said, “some with cash and some with credit cards, both of which may have been forged. Local merchants are encouraged to be very vigilant with transactions and to report any suspicious or criminal behavior.”
And people shouldn’t count on this being an isolated incidence, said Angels Camp Police Chief Todd Fordahl of the crimes.
“It’s becoming more frequent,” he continued. “We’ve only had a couple cases as involved as this one … but on a lower level and smaller scale, we’re seeing more and more. (Lewis and Dahl) are pretty involved and more sophisticated than we usually see. I have a feeling that we’re going to see more of this as time goes on. It’s getting more prevalent and common.
“… People should be very wary of protecting their identity nowadays. With the prevalence of this technology and how common ATM, debit and credit cards are, I would never encourage people to allow them to leave your sight for a second. It only takes a couple of seconds for someone to take that card, swipe the magnetic strip and get all of your data. … People need to be very vigilant in protecting their information.”
The couple was arrested after a grocery store employee called police to report Lewis had tried to pass counterfeit $20 bills, the department said.
Lewis was arrested with a total of three counterfeit $20 bills, said Fordahl, after an officer identified him according to the employee’s description.
Upon further investigation, the officer discovered Lewis had a warrant out for his arrest, and that he is on “post-release community supervision” in another county.
The post-release community supervision population is made up of offenders who were released from state prisons and put under the supervision of county probation departments.
Lewis tried to pass the false bills at Save Mart and Altaville Market and succeeded in doing so at Rite Aid.
Dahl was at the motel when officers arrived to investigate further, and signed a search warrant waiver for their room, the release said.
“While at the motel, the officer located a vehicle Dahl and Lewis were associated with,” the department said, “and that vehicle was determined to be reported stolen out of Reno, Nev. ... A search of the room and the car revealed numerous items consistent with the counterfeiting of U.S. currency and identity theft. Additionally, hypodermic syringes and a methamphetamine smoking pipe were found.”
Both the Police Department and Sheriff’s Office were called in to process the scene, and the Secret Service arrived the next day to collect a computer and other “identity theft-related items,” the department said.
“… Their computer forensics lab will examine the computer-related equipment for possible further evidence that is related to this case,” the department said. “This case will be reviewed for a possible federal indictment of both Dahl and Lewis.”
Anyone with information about this case may call the Police Department at 736-2567.