TOP COP – JULY 2013
DETECTIVE MELISSA TEWELL
Economic Crimes Detective, Melissa Tewell, was selected by her supervisors as the Department’s Top Cop for July 2013.
Over the course of several months, Detective Tewell investigated an internet fraud case involving numerous victims all across the country. Suspects were using credit card information from various unsuspecting consumers to order Star Wars Legos from Walmart.com. During her investigation, she confirmed a handful of victims, all of which had the product shipped to an address on 11th Street in the City of Buena Park. She was diligent in her investigation and obtained a search warrant for this address. However, prior to serving the search warrant, Detective Tewell conducted a surveillance of this residence, watching a FedEx truck make a delivery. Post-delivery, she contacted the homeowners and found out that they were allowing their niece’s friend to use their address to have these products delivered. She used the homeowner’s phone to contact the suspect “friend” and arranged for the suspect to pick up the package. Later, the suspect arrived and he was immediately stopped after placing the package inside the trunk of his car. Detective Tewell now had the suspect identified and was able to get him to agree to take detectives directly to his home to retrieve other property that was fraudulently purchased. The suspect showed detectives large amounts of property inside his garage that was stacked along the wall at an estimated value of over $10,000. Additionally, computers and high-end colognes were recovered, as well as numerous empty shipping boxes revealing more victims.
Following an extensive interview of the suspect, he implicated a friend who lives in Vietnam. Also found was evidence and statements of sales that this person made in excess of $13,000 in the last month alone! During the suspect’s interview, his accomplice in Vietnam called and it was ultimately discovered that there are multiple levels of this fraud scam and we have only scratched our way to the third tier.
What Detective Tewell discovered was that the suspect in Vietnam orders products from Walmart.com using victims’ credit card information and ships it to the 11th Street address in an effort to hide his tracks. The homeowners are paid $10 per package for their trouble, and the suspect here picks up the merchandise and ships it to the suspect in Vietnam who, in turn, sends the suspect here $500 per shipment. The Vietnam suspect then resells the merchandise for 100% profit.
Detective Tewell did an outstanding job on this case, uncovered a significant fraud operation, and recovered over $10,000 in merchandise. It was originally thought that this case would end at the 11th Street address in our City; however, through her diligence, she identified the real suspects and recovered additional property. Congratulations to Detective Tewell on a job well-done!