Tuesday, March 20 , 2018, 7:27 am | Overcast 52º


Five Suspects Facing Charges of Credit Card Fraud

Detectives say fake cards were created with stolen identities for use at a casino

Cynthia Borjas
Cynthia Borjas

A Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department investigation into the use of fraudulent credit cards in the Santa Ynez Valley has led to the arrest of five people from the Los Angeles area.

About 2:45 p.m. on Tuesday, sheriff’s deputies responded to the Chumash Casino Resort after casino personnel detained a man and woman suspected of credit card fraud.

Sheriff’s deputies, with the assistance of sheriff’s detectives, contacted 46-year-old Thomas Charles Lamb of San Clemente and 36-year-old Cynthia Borjas of Sherman Oaks.

Sheriff’s detectives conducted the follow-up investigation and believe that Lamb and Borjas worked together to use fraudulent credit cards at the casino in order to obtain cash and gamble. Lamb and Borjas were also found with fraudulent credit cards in their possession.

Lamb and Borjas were booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail on charges of criminal conspiracy, commercial burglary and use of a fraudulent credit card. Lamb’s bail was set at $500,000. It was learned that Lamb is on probation out of San Diego County for identity theft.

Thomas Charles Lamb
Thomas Charles Lamb

Borjas is being held without bail for violation of parole. She was also arrested on charges of misappropriation of lost property.

During the investigation, sheriff’s detectives learned the identity of three additional subjects who had been seen with Lamb and Borjas at the time of the crimes. On Wednesday, sheriff’s deputies and detectives contacted 42-year-old Ety Herawaty Siauw of Venice, 45-year-old Walter Andrew Harrsch of Van Nuys and 36-year-old Michael Joseph West of Los Angeles in a car at a gas station near the Chumash Casino.

Detectives located various items inside the vehicle that indicated use of fraudulent credit cards in order to obtain cash and gamble at the casino. The items included equipment used to make fraudulent credit cards and paperwork containing the personal information of various identity theft victims.

Ety Herawaty Siauw
Ety Herawaty Siauw

During the search of the vehicle, sheriff’s detectives also located various suspected drugs — including heroin, methamphetamine and hashish — drug paraphernalia and several thousand dollars in cash.

Siauw, Harrsch and West were arrested and booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail on 11 various charges, including criminal conspiracy, use of a fraudulent credit card, identity theft, possession of card making machinery and several drug charges.

Walter Andrew Harrsch
Walter Andrew Harrsch

Bail for West was set at $50,000. Harrsch is being held without bail because of a parole violation. Siauw is being held without bail because of an immigration detainer.

Sheriff’s detectives continue to investigate the crimes committed at the Chumash Casino.

Anyone with information regarding any of the suspects is asked to call the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department Detective Bureau at 805.681.4150 or the Sheriff’s Anonymous Tipline at 805.681.4171.

Tips to Avoid Becoming an Identity Theft Victim

Michael Joseph West
Michael Joseph West

Identity theft has grown at an alarming rate in the past 15 years. There are several steps one may take to reduce the chance of becoming a victim:

» Use fewer credit cards, and don’t carry all of your cards with you.

» Carefully review monthly statements for inaccuracies. Report billing errors and lost or stolen cards to your credit card issuer immediately.

» Keep a list of all credit cards, account numbers and expiration dates so you can notify creditors quickly.

» Never give personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call.

» Shred all pre-approved credit card offers, documents and receipts before putting them in the trash.

— Drew Sugars is a public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >