A Concord woman has been sentenced to eight years in state prison in two cases of identity theft.
Generose Yambao, 32, of Concord, pleaded no contest to 15 counts of identity theft, second degree burglary, and attempted grand theft. Under the new state criminal sentencing guidelines, she will serve her sentence in county prison. The eight-year county prison sentence is the most severe sentence to date to be served in for an identity thief in Contra Costa County, according to District Attorney Mark A. Peterson.
Yambao used the identities of eight victims between July and November 2011 to create fake credit card accounts and checks to steal just over $46,000 worth of merchandise and cash from more than ten retailers, banks and online services.
In one incident on Peterson described as "brazen," Yambao walked into the Apple Store in Walnut Creek, pretending to be the victim, and wrote a check for 19 iPads and a MacBook Air worth $19,255. The iPads were never recovered. Yambao was photographed on store security cameras making the purchase in September 2011.
Another victim suffered through what Peterson called "an identity theft victim's worst nightmare."
Less than 35 minutes after that victim's purse was stolen from her locked car at Round Valley Regional Park on November 2011, her credit cards were being used at a gas station in Brentwood.
Although she cancelled her credit cards and checking accounts and placed flags on her credit report and filed a police report, each evening after work, she would return home to find she had dozens of email notifications that credit cards had been opened in her name. Those included bank, store and PayPal accounts. She would spend the next day contacting the banks and retailers cancelling these fraudulent accounts and then come home again to find more notifications.
The defendant also transferred $2,500 cash from that victim's bank account to a fraudulent PayPal account and cashed fraudulent checks totaling over $5000. Fake g-mail accounts and cell phone numbers were set up in victim's name and later linked to the suspect Yambao.
The district attorney's office credited two police officers for their work leading to the arrest and conviction.
Sergeant Tyrone Davis of the East Bay Regional Park District Police Department contacted every retailer , interviewed store clerks, and obtained documents and surveillance video, if available. He wrote and served search warrants for credit card applications from the banks and credit card companies that would not release the information. Through his work, Davis was able to identify Yambao as the suspect.
Detective Andy Brown, of the Walnut Creek Police Department Financial Crimes Unit, investigated the Apple Store fraudulent purchases. He also tracked down information that Yambao had come into the Walnut Creek Branch American Express Travel Office, pretended to be another victim and attempted to buy travelers checks with that victim's identification. A clerk was able to positively identify the defendant as the suspect.
On Oct. 13, 2011, several police agencies served a search warrant and Ramey Arrest warrant on Defendant's residence in Concord. Many of the victims' personal identifying information was discovered at the house and on the defendant when she was arrested.
Yambao had a previous 2001 federal conviction for identification fraud and received a 50-month federal prison sentence. In that case, she stole more than $137,000.