Beverly Hills salon owner sentenced to probation, home confinement for credit card fraud
The owner of a Beverly Hills skin care studio whose roster of celebrity clients included Jennifer Aniston, Penelope Cruz, Halle Berry and Anne Hathaway was sentenced Monday in connection with a scheme to run up hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulent credit card charges.
Maria Gabriela Perez, 52, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Manuel Real to five years' probation, during which she is required to serve nine months' home confinement and perform 3,000 hours of community service.
Federal officials said Perez ran up about $68,000 in unauthorized charges on a credit card belonging to a high-end jewelry designer using manually entered credit card numbers.
That designer told investigators that several other high-profile victims said unauthorized charges appeared on their credit cards after they made payment at the studio, the affidavit states.
An investigator with American Express said the company found about $214,000 in fraudulent charges made by the salon over a five-month period in 2009 on two credit cards that had been issued to an actor.
Liv Tyler was one of the first to notice that her American Express card statement indicated more than the cost of a shampoo, cut and blow dry from the Chez Gabriela Studio.
Over five months, Tyler found more than $214,000 in unauthorized charges on her card. She emailed another salon client, and the two realized that their stylist had apparently gone on a spending spree.
-- Andrew Blankstein (twitter.com/anblanx)