California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. recently announced that agents from his office and the Santa Ana Police Department have arrested a “serial con artist” who defrauded hundreds of people by charging them $500 to apply for credit cards that did not exist.
Ralph Adam Rendon, 33, of Orange County, was arrested late last week on suspicion of grand theft and forgery. While no new charges have been filed at this point, his bail has been increased to $1 million and a search warrant was executed at his Santa Ana business. He is currently being held in custody at the Santa Ana Jail.
“This serial con artist was arrested and charged last year for selling bogus travel packages to senior citizens who wanted to go to Cuba,” Brown said. “He is behind bars again for charging his victims hundreds of dollars in application fees for credit cards that did not exist.”
On April 8, 2008, Brown’s office filed 78 criminal counts of grand theft, embezzlement, and mishandling consumer funds against Rendon in Orange County Superior Court for stealing more than $160,000 from consumers who paid him for trips to Cuba that he never booked. He was arrested a few days later and posted bail. Trial in that case is set to begin on October 26, 2009.
Nearly a year after posting bail, Rendon started a Santa Ana based company called London Exchange, which offered “No FICO” credit cards with credit lines of $50,000 to $100,000. A “No FICO” credit card does not require a credit check. Rendon’s company also claimed to offer credit repair counseling.
To receive the credit cards, consumers were required to pay an upfront processing fee of $500. However, no consumers who investigators have interviewed reported receiving a credit card, despite paying the fee. Rendon collected more than $300,000 from over 600 individuals who responded to his company’s online advertisements from May to August 2009.
The scheme eventually unraveled after the credit card processing company that Rendon used to process his customers’ payments discovered that he was a defendant in a pending criminal case. The credit card processing company notified Brown’s office, which launched an investigation.
After interviewing several consumers, investigators from Brown’s office obtained a warrant to search the company’s Santa Ana office in September 2009. Investigators found hundreds of credit card applications and checks made out to the London Exchange. No evidence was found indicating that any credit cards were ever issued or that the company employed professionals who could offer credit repair counseling.
The company also failed to register with Brown’s office as a credit repair agency as required by California law.
Consumers who may have applied for one of these credit cards should check their credit reports for any suspicious activity. Although investigators have seized credit card applications as well as computers records containing personal identifying data, this information could have been misused. If you believe you have been defrauded by the London Exchange, file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office at (916) 322-3360.