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Two Harts, different arts

William S. Hart of Valencia booked for fraud

Posted: December 5, 2008 10:46 p.m.
Updated: December 6, 2008 4:59 a.m.
Another William S. Hart from Santa Clarita could end up famous, but this time for the wrong reasons.

This William S. Hart isn't a star of silent movies, but a Valencia man accused of rounding up more than $100,000 through a credit card scam, said Loren Farell, a Los Angeles Police Department detective. He is charged with felony credit card fraud.

He apparently shares no relation to the silent film star whose Newhall mansion is now the crown feature of William S. Hart Park.

Hart, who was booked under several aliases before, allegedly used fraudulent credit cards to buy more than $80,000 in merchandise from a Costco in Van Nuys during a two-year period, Farell said.

He allegedly took aim at an unspecified Santa Clarita Wal-Mart and Sam's Club, rustling a combined $60,000 in November, he said.

"This was the most significant arrest and seizure of evidence with the potential to cause the largest losses we've seen in over 15 years," Farell said. "The potential for financial loss was incalculable,"

LAPD detectives arrested Hart, 44, at his Valencia apartment Monday night after a search found blank credit cards from American Express, Discover and several banks including Citibank, Washington Mutual, Chase and Wells Fargo, Farell said.

Detectives also seized rental applications from potential victims, receipts for items fraudulently purchased with the cards, two credit card embossers capable of making credit cards from blank plastic, card readers, card encoders that can re-encode cards and their magnetic strips, devices for retaining and transmitting account information over phone lines, blank/counterfeit birth certificates to obtain fraudulent California

Identification Cards, plus computers and computer disks containing names of existing and potential victims, he said.

Detectives searched Hart's storage locker in the San Fernando Valley and discovered material similar to the evidence recovered at his apartment, Farell said.

Hart is being held in Van Nuys Jail in lieu of $1,256,800 bail. He is due in San Fernando Superior Court at 8:30 a.m. Monday.


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