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Popped! Repeat Credit Card Fraud Offender Arrested

Harold Eric Larson of Orange has been accused of renting hotel rooms in Newport Beach, Laguna Beach and Costa Mesa using stolen credit card numbers.

A 37-year-old man already on probation for stealing credit cards to rent hotel rooms in Laguna Beach, Newport Beach and Costa Mesa was behind bars again today on suspicion of similar offenses.

Harold Eric Larson of Orange was arrested about 4 p.m. Thursday and booked on suspicion of burglary, grand theft, misrepresentation of a credit card holder, possession of a controlled substance, identity theft with a prior conviction and violating probation, Laguna Beach police Capt. Jason Kravetz said.

He was being held in the Laguna Beach jail pending a transfer to Orange County jail, where he will be held without bail because he allegedly violated his probation, Kravetz added.

Larson allegedly stole credit card numbers through open Wi-Fi networks with a laptop computer as consumers purchased items in shops, Kravetz said. He sits nearby with a laptop and collects the information from people who are simply purchasing items or accessing their credit card or checking accounts.

He allegedly rented a room at the Montage Resort last Friday, Dec. 21, with a stolen credit card number, Kravetz said.

The fraud was discovered two days later when the credit card holder saw a $2,134 bill, Kravetz said.

Larson left the Montage before police were alerted and allegedly used someone else's credit card to rent a room at the Laguna Cliffs Inn on Christmas Eve, Kravetz said.

On Wednesday, Laguna Beach police responded to a call at the Laguna Cliffs Inn about drug usage in one of the rooms and arrested Edward Richard York, 40, of Tustin, on suspicion of drug-related offenses, Kravetz said. During their investigation, police learned the room was rented with a stolen credit card number from Larson, Kravetz said.

According to Laguna Beach Police, Larson is also accused of similar credit card fraud incidents in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa.

Larson was arrested in April on 23 felony counts of fraud and theft after he was caught using stolen credit card numbers to rent rooms in Laguna Beach,
according to Kravetz.

Larson pleaded guilty May 11 to seven counts each of second-degree burglary, fraudulent use of a credit card and identity theft, all felonies, according to court records. He also pleaded guilty to a felony count of possession of a controlled substance and a misdemeanor count of unauthorized possession of a hypodermic needle.

Larson was sentenced to a year in jail and three years of formal probation.

—City News Service and Laguna Beach Police Dept. sources

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