A man believed to be responsible for multiple mail thefts of local businesses and check fraud up and down California was arrested recently in Livingston, according to the Kings County Sheriff’s Office.
Felipe Gonzales Alvarez was arrested on Sept. 22 by the Livingston Police Department after local and other surrounding agencies began to network together to find the true identity of a suspect who sheriff’s officials said stole checks from postal bins, altered them and cashed them at different stores.
Officials said the arrest was a multi-agency effort between Kings County Sheriff’s Office, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office, Pismo Police Department, Santa Barbara Sheriff's Office, Santa Clara Police Department, Santa Barbara Police Department and the USPS Postal Inspector's Office in San Jose.
In June 2017, officials said three local businesses made separate mail theft reports with the Kings County Sheriff's Office.
When deputies took a closer look at the cases, they said they noticed each victim had mailed out business checks to various vendors for payment by placing them in the outside, drive-up, postal bin at the Hanford Post Office.
At some point the businesses’ checks were stolen out of the bin, altered and cashed at different stores around Kings, Tulare, Kern and Fresno counties, deputies said.
The Kings County Rural Crimes Task Force began investigating these three cases and located surveillance of two suspects cashing or attempting to cash the stolen checks. Officials said the suspects were using stolen or altered California driver's licenses so their true identities remained unknown.
After reaching out to neighboring agencies, sheriff’s officials said the San Luis Obispo Sheriff's Office was able to offer some information.
Although they could not positively identify either suspect at that time, they were able to inform the Kings County Rural Crimes Investigators the primary suspect in their cases was a primary suspect in approximately 17 cases up and down the state.
A break in the case came in early September when sheriff's officials said forensic evidence was able to positively identify Alvarez as the main suspect.
Deputies said Alvarez has a history of fraud and although he is currently being held in the Merced County Jail, federal charges are looking to be brought against him.
Sheriff’s officials said they believe Alvarez to be working with others. Anyone with further information in this case is encouraged to contact Detective Moore at 589-3629.