Two Bay Area residents were arrested this week after the Manteca Costco store caught on to a fraud attempt involving the passing of counterfeit money.
Edward Anthony Gutierrez, 30, and Jaleh Renee Kanellis, 25, both of Newark, were arrested by Manteca Police on Tuesday after attempting to return merchandise to the store that they had purchased using counterfeit $100 bills. Both were taken into custody and charged with forgery, counterfeiting, and conspiracy, and upon their arrest it was learned that they recognized from other similar fraudulent transactions at other Costco locations throughout California.
The scheme appeared to be an attempt to exchange the counterfeit money for real currency by targeting stores with liberal return policies. Unlike other stores, however, Costco is membership-based – meaning that customers have to give their active card to the clerk before making any purchase. The use of the membership card for Costco actually figures in to the store’s widely-known and praised return policy – even without a receipt, customers can receive refunds since all of the purchases that are made at the store are tracked and can be looked up with only the membership number.
Kanellis is currently in custody in the San Joaquin County Jail and is being held on $250,000 bail — $210,000 for the incident at Costco earlier this week, and $40,000 on an outstanding warrant from another county. She is scheduled to appear in Department 1 of the Manteca branch of the San Joaquin County Superior Court on Monday, July 22, at 1:25 p.m. A search of current county jail inmates under Gutierrez’ name produced no matches.
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