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O.C. counterfeiter gets 25 years in prison

A Capistrano Beach man was sentenced Friday to 25 years in prison for his role as boss of crime ring specializing in identity theft and counterfeit credit cards, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office.

Authorities said Christopher John Aragon, 52, oversaw a group of criminals -- including his wife and six others -- who stole thousands of victims’ identities between 2004 and 2007 and used fake cards to buy expensive merchandise that was later sold online.

The district attorney’s office said Aragon hired people, mostly women, to purchase expensive goods in California and Las Vegas that were then sold on EBay and Craigslist.

Prosecutors said Newport Beach police caught Aragon in May 2007 when he and Guy Itzak Shitrit, 28, of Miami, bought more than $13,000 in merchandise at Fashion Island with fake credit cards. Police found more than 50 forged credit and gift cards when they searched Aragon’s car, and hundreds more during a search of his home. A search of Shitrit’s Aliso Viejo apartment turned up a forgery lab and thumb drives containing thousands of stolen credit card numbers.

Aragon pleaded guilty in March to 50 felony counts, including grand theft, counterfeiting and unauthorized use of personal information.

In 2007, his seven known accomplices, including his wife and Shitrit, pleaded guilty to charges connected to the case. They were sentenced to jail or prison terms.

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-- Christopher Goffard

 
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