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Preliminary Hearing Delayed in Gift Card Scam

Willie Lozano, 55, Charles Ryan Angeles, 31 and Phong Nguyen Le, 32 were arrested Jan. 30, when a clerk at a check cashing place in San Mateo called police.

A preliminary hearing for a man suspected of identity theft and fraud involving gift cards – as well as drug possession charges – was put off until Tuesday.

Willie Lozano, 55, Charles Ryan Angeles, 31 and Phong Nguyen Le, 32 were arrested Jan. 30, when a clerk at a check cashing place in San Mateo called police.

Lozano has already been arraigned but the initial court appearance for Le and Angeles is set for March 7.

On Jan. 30, a clerk recognized Le and Lozano from an earlier date, when the two allegedly tried to cash in several $500 Starbucks gift cards.

The first time, the clerk had become suspicious and delayed the suspects while trying to verify the cards, according to court records.

The suspects left the store but the second time they came in with the same alleged scam, a clerk called authorities.

When police arrived, they found Lozano and Le sitting in a vehicle across the street from the check cashing place and a check of their names revealed they both had warrants out for their arrests in unrelated cases, court records show.

Officers got a whiff of fresh marijuana and searched the vehicle, finding 11 pounds of pot in the trunk -- wrapped into one-pound bricks -- as well as packaging materials, records indicate.

Investigators also found fake driver licenses on Lozano -- with his face but in different names -- as well as fake credit cards in the same fake names, records show.

Other fake cards were found in the vehicle, with other identification and other fraud-committing materials, records show.

Police caught up with Angeles at his Milpitas home, where officers found an embosser, computer programs, blank Starbucks cards and lists of hundreds of names and personal information, records show.

Investigators also found email messages indicating attempts to purchase more names and credit card numbers, according to court records.

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