Felony Convictions in identity theft and check fraud conspiracy

daDistrict Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that Eligio (“Gio”) Tavanlar (DOB 01/30/1975) and Melandre (“Dre”) Tavanlar (DOB 01/09/1974) of Woodland Hills have each been sentenced to nine years in Ventura County jail  following their convictions on multiple felony counts for their roles as principals in a multi-year identity theft and check fraud conspiracy. Gio Tavanlar pleaded guilty on March 7, 2014, and was sentenced on April 7, 2014. Dre Tavanlar pleaded guilty in September 2013 and was sentenced in October 2013. The case was the result of a multi-agency investigation by the Simi Valley Police Department, the Ventura County Sheriff s Office, the United States Secret Service, and the Ventura County District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation.

From 2010 until 2013, the Tavanlars ran a criminal enterprise in which they acquired personal information from victims, manufactured  fake identification documents and checks, and employed runners to pass the fake checks throughout Ventura and Los Angeles Counties. The Tavanlars paid dozens of runners to pass hundreds of checks at stores while victimizing hundreds of identity theft victims. For months after she was arrested and jailed in May 2012, Dre Tavanlar actively recruited female inmates to work for Gio Tavanlar as runners after they were released. Several ex-inmates solicited by Dre passed forged checks for Gio. The conspiracy finally ended when officers served a warrant on Gio’s home in January 2013 and arrested him just as he had printed a fake check.

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William "Bill" Hicks

My wife and I have been victims of mail fraud (Grand Theft). Because of our good bookkeeping and resolve, we were instrumental in convicting a Man and Woman team that were stealing checks out of mail boxes.

Here’s a couple of measures to take to assure the safety of your mail:

1) Never turn the flag up on your mailbox. The mail carrier will check your box even without the flag being up. It’s shows a person willing to steal your mail, that there could be some checks in it.

2) After the mail carrier has made his/her rounds, don’t put fresh mail in until the normal time of your daily pick-up.