Crime

Police arrest pair they say tried to use fake $100 bills at Arroyo Grande Walmart

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It isn't always easy to tell if your personal information has been stolen for fraudulent purposes or your accounts have been compromised. Here are some common signs that you might be a victim of identity theft.

The Arroyo Grande Police Department arrested two people for alleged counterfeiting and identity theft.

According to a police news release, officers were alerted to a subject trying to pass counterfeit $100 bills at Walmart in Arroyo Grande on Dec. 5. The suspect fled in a vehicle prior to officers’ arrival, police said.

Based on surveillance footage, the suspect was identified as Michael Anthony Hooper, 34, of Oceano, police said.

Officers found and arrested Hooper for an outstanding felony warrant on Dec. 19.

A search of his residence revealed “additional counterfeit currency, currency that was in the process of being washed and printed, along with equipment and supplies used to process and create counterfeit currency,” according to the release.

Evidence of identity theft was also found, police say.

The Arroyo Grande Police Department is working with the U.S. Secret Service on this investigation.

Claudia Patricia Ritter, 39, of Oceano, was identified as an additional suspect. Like Hooper, she was arrested and booked at San Luis Obispo County Jail on suspicion of possession of forged or counterfeit currency and conspiracy to commit a crime.

Hooper faces an additional charge of making or passing counterfeit currency.

Hooper and Ritter remained in jail custody as of early Thursday afternoon, with bail for both set at $20,000.

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Kaytlyn Leslie writes about business and development for The Tribune. Hailing from Nipomo, she also covers city governments and happenings in the South County region, including Arroyo Grande, Pismo Beach and Grover Beach. She joined The Tribune in 2013 after graduating from Cal Poly with her journalism degree.


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