A Ceres couple were arrested Wednesday afternoon on suspicion of 41 crimes stemming from the sales of bogus Disneyland tickets.
Jessica Melendez, 33, and Israel Vasquez, 32, are accused of buying two-day Disneyland passes from AAA, then selling photocopies of them to people looking for a deal on Craigslist.
“There were legitimate tickets bought and then there were fakes made ... so whoever got down there first was able to gain entry and everyone else was out of luck,” Detective Darren Venn said.
Most families were told at the gates that their electronic tickets already had been used; some had the funds to buy their admission, but others had to return home with devastated children.
The arrests culminated an investigation that started in October when The Bee inquired with Ceres police about complaints from a Las Vegas woman who said she paid Melendez $400 for four tickets.
Ceres police searched the couple’s home in the 1800 block of Evans Road and found more than 15 tickets, Venn said, including ones with the same serial numbers as those purchased by the Las Vegas woman.
The search and news reports about the tickets generated responses from even more victims, Venn said.
He said he interviewed victims up and down the Highway 99 corridor, as far north as Granite Bay and as far south as Fresno. There also were victims in the Bay Area.
Venn said the couple bought multiple sets of tickets from AAA from late 2012 to April. They are suspected of selling dozens of copies of the tickets and making more than $20,000. Victims were out anywhere from $250 to $625.
Venn said the investigation, in part, took as long as it did because he had to work with the district attorneys in about half a dozen other counties. They agreed to have all the crimes charged in Stanislaus County.
Melendez and Vasquez face 41 counts between the two of them, including fraud, selling false tickets, theft and grand theft.
The couple were arrested at their Evans Road home Wednesday afternoon. In addition to her charges, Melendez has an immigration hold.
Anyone with information or other potential fraud victims are encouraged to contact Venn at (209) 538-5616 or email@example.com. Tips can be anonymously reported to Stanislaus Area Crime Stoppers at (866) 602-7463. Text tips to “274637” with TIP704 in the wording, or visit www.modestopolice.com/crimestoppers.