press release - 03161602

Identity Theft Ring Busted


Suspected Identity Theft Ring Busted



Renee Ash, 24


Renee Ash, 24



Christopher Hernandez, 37


Christopher Hernandez, 37



Wanda Elliott - Ash, 47


Wanda Elliott - Ash, 47



Suspected Identity Theft Ring Busted in Carpinteria


Carpinteria- March 16th, 2016

At approximately 10:30 p.m. on March 15, 2016, a Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s deputy assigned to the Carpinteria area contacted two subjects for smoking in the 5500 block of Carpinteria Avenue. Smoking is a municipal code violation in the City of Carpinteria.  During the contact, one of the subjects was found to be on active county probation for theft charges out of Fresno County.

During a search of the subject’s vehicle, deputies located drug paraphernalia and methamphetamine. Additionally inside the vehicle was a cache of fraudulent California identification cards, debit cards and credit cards. The subjects, identified as 24-year-old Renee Ash and 37-year-old Christopher Hernandez of Squaw Valley, were subsequently arrested on scene.

Two subjects associated with Hernandez and Ash were contacted inside nearby motel rooms and also arrested. They were identified as Ash’s mother, 47-year-old Wanda Elliott-Ash and 31-year-old Chad Petros, both of Madera. The motel rooms were also searched and more stolen credit cards, checkbooks and manufactured fraudulent credit cards were located. Elliott-Ash also provided a false identity to conceal a felony narcotics/theft warrant out of Madera County.

Ash and Hernandez were booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail for violations of identity theft, conspiracy, possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia, with bail set at $50,000. Wanda Elliott-Ash was booked into jail for possession of stolen property, identity theft, conspiracy, providing false identity, possession of drug paraphernalia and the felony warrant. Petros was later released with charges pending due to a medical issue.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, identity theft is still the number one criminal enterprise impacting consumers and is estimated to cause billions of dollars in financial losses every year. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office recommends our citizens take simple precautions to decrease their chances of being victimized in this manner, including:

·     Frequent checks of your credit report

·     Monitor savings/checking accounts for unauthorized activity

·     Shred all mail you are discarding, which contains personal identifying information

·     Order your credit report from the below credit bureaus and check for fraudulent accounts: Equifax  (800) 997-2493

Experian  (888) 397-3742

TransUnion  (800) 916-8800

If you become aware of any fraudulent cashed checks, credit card charges or accounts opened in your name, please contact your local law enforcement agency to file a police report.  For more information on identity theft, visit:

The City of Carpinteria contracts with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office for police services.



For Media Inquires Contact PIO Kelly Hoover


Business Hours: (805) 681-4100

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