CERES (CBS13) – A Ceres couple was arrested Wednesday for allegedly selling fake Disneyland tickets to people on Craigslist.
Israel Velasquez, 32, and Jessica Melendez, 33, are facing 41 criminal charges stemming from a scam in which they sold thousands of dollars in fake Disneyland tickets to unsuspecting people via the online classifieds, according to a Ceres Police Department statement.
Police were alerted to alleged activity on Oct. 1, 2013 after a woman claiming to have been scammed by the couple called a Modesto Bee reporter and said she showed up to the park with the tickets she bought from Melendez, only to find they were fake.
A police investigation also turned up two separate incidents when Velasquez sold the fake tickets to people.Melendez and Velasquez were found to have outstanding warrants. When police went to their residence to serve the warrants, a parolee search of the home also turned up evidence of their alleged activity, including 17 printed Disneyland tickets.
After this report was made public, eight more victims from across the state came forward. They each responded to Craigslist ads, met up with the suspects and paid between $250-625 for the fake tickets, which turned out to be copies of the real thing. Police say the couple bought the real tickets from various AAA offices using bad checks.
Police estimate the couple defrauded victims out of $20,000.
The couple was arrested in the 1800 block of Evans Road in Ceres on Wednesday and booked at the Stanislaus County Jail. Israel Vasquez was released on bail and is also facing charges in Tulare County for similar crimes.
Jessica Melendez is still in custody on her charges and is being held on an immigration detainer to determine if she should be deported.
The couple faces charges of first and second-degree burglary, making criminal threats, passing a fictitious bill, theft, grand theft, and passing false tickets.
Anyone with information about this case is asked to call Detective Darren Venn by calling (209) 538-5616 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Tips can also be anonymously reported to the Stanislaus Area Crime Stoppers at 1-866-60-CRIME.