Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

Woman in custody on suspicion of identity and mail theft

A deputy with the Fallbrook Sheriff's Substation pulled a car over for having an expired registration on Saturday, April 8 around 4:00 a.m. near the intersection of Tecalote Drive and Pala Lake Drive.

During the traffic stop, a records check revealed the driver had outstanding warrants from Orange and Riverside Counties.

The car was searched after the driver was taken into custody for the outstanding warrants. Hundreds of unused gift cards and stolen mail were found in the car. The stolen mail came from Carlsbad, Fallbrook, Encinitas, Escondido, Ramona and San Marcos. A ledger documenting gift card barcodes with corresponding access or PIN codes was also found in the car. These gift cards were connected to Walmart, Target, Ralph's, Bath & Body Works and other VISA gift cards.

Rebecca Stedtfeld was booked into the Vista Detention Facility on the outstanding warrants and several charges of identity theft, conspiracy to commit crime, committing a crime while out on bail and possessing burglary tools.

If you have information about the thefts or think you might be a victim, call the Sheriff's Department non-emergency line at (858) 565-5200. You can remain anonymous and be eligible for up to a $1,000 reward for information that leads to a felony arrest. Call Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.

Local stores were contacted regarding the stolen gift cards. They are aware of the gift card scams. Thieves will grab gift cards off the shelves and record the barcode and access codes. The cards are returned to the stores for purchase.

Thieves monitor the cards and scammers will use the recorded access codes to steal the funds. The gift cards are no longer of value for the buyer or the intended recipient of the gift.

Here's how you can protect yourself:

Stick to stores you know and trust. Avoid buying from online auction sites because the cards may be fake or stolen.

Check it out before you buy it. Make sure the protective stickers are on the card and that they do not appear to have been tampered with. Also check that the PIN number on the back isn’t showing. Get a different card if you spot a problem.

Keep your receipt. This, or the card’s ID number, will help you file a report if you lose the gift card.

Scammers also print bar codes on stickers and placing them on top of the real gift card numbers and PINs. Run your finger over the bar code to ensure a sticker hasn't been applied.

If the packaging looks altered in any way, it could be a scam. Thieves will open the sealed packaging record the gift card information and then place back on the shelf.

Report the fraud to the store. They may ask you to share your receipt and other purchase information.

If you lost money, contact your local law enforcement agency. A crime report may help you deal with the card issuer.

Report the fraud to the Federal Trade Commission to help the FTC prevent future cases.


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