A San Ramon man was recently arrested in Southern California on suspicion of scamming someone to buy a bogus airline ticket, according to the Hermosa Beach Police Department.
Jian Huang, 39, of San Ramon, used the names David Huang, James Lee or Jim Lee and allegedly scammed a Hermosa Beach resident who contacted police of the suspected crime on Nov. 17.
The Hermosa Beach victim told police that he initially met Huang on a social Internet website promising in a post “Unrestricted airline credits for half off” sold him airline tickets for $900. He later discovered the tickets were not paid for.
In response to the report, Hermosa Beach detectives set up a meeting with Huang on Nov. 29, arresting him for use of an access card, identity theft and theft through false pretenses, said Det. Mick Gaglia.
Hermosa Beach police believe there are many more victims.
Huang lured victims by claiming he was an airline employee selling unused credits, Hermosa Beach police said.
When arrested, police say Huang admitted he used stolen credit card information obtained while working at a property management company, using the stolen cards to book online airline tickets on his laptop when meeting with victims.
Huang would meet potential victims at coffee shops that had Wi-Fi access, using it to book flights, then giving the victims a confirmation number in exchange for cash.
As owners of the stolen cards reported the fraudulent charges on their accounts, the credit card companies would cancel the airline's payment. When victims showed up at an airport with their confirmation number, they would find out the flight had not been paid for, according to police.
Huang stated that he victimized several people with his scam, said Det. Gaglia and that officers have been contacted by other victims.
"He was mobile, he went all over," said Det. Gaglia of Huang.
Victims of Huang can contact HBPD Detective Michael Frilot at 310-318-0332 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story originally ran on Hermosa Beach Patch.