Women now face racketeering charges after arrest for alleged credit card scam | SummitDaily.com

Women now face racketeering charges after arrest for alleged credit card scam

Elise Reuter
ereuter@summitdaily.com

A woman previously arrested in Silverthorne will now face a racketeering charge, a class-two felony, according a new arrest warrant out of Eagle County.

Vanessa Ravare was arrested on Oct. 21 after she allegedly attempted to get a cash advance from a Silverthorne bank. According to Silverthorne police, she was found in possession of fraudulent paperwork when contacted by an officer.

The bank staff had been notified of the scheme after a similar attempted fraud in Frisco resulted in the arrest of Cynthia Johnson one-week prior.

Johnson's case was moved to Eagle shortly after her arrest, where she will appear in court for a preliminary hearing on Tuesday, Dec. 8. She faces a total of 27 felony counts — the most severe being the racketeering charge, or violation of the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act (COCCA).

"Because of the complexity of this case and the number of law enforcement agencies involved, it was appropriate to bring it to Eagle County for resources in handling this case," McCollum said.

The suspects allegedly used the same scheme between banks, attempting to get cash advances on a false Capital One credit card and using false identification. When the card was denied, they reportedly told the teller that the credit card company was not aware of their travel plans and told them to call the number on the back of the card, where another accomplice would pose as a Capital One customer service representative.

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According to the Vail Daily, Johnson allegedly obtained a $4,850 cash advance from an Alpine Bank in Avon under the identity of Deborah Brendel and later attempted to use the same identity at a branch in Frisco prior to her arrest. She was also known to use the alias Jacquelyn Murray.

The current investigation reaches across western Colorado, including multiple towns in Summit County, Eagle County, Mesa County and Garfield County across the I-70 corridor. According to the prosecution, the women targeted multiple banks across the state, including local chain Alpine Bank, which reported a total loss of 37,550 from the combined scams.

Ravare, in total, faces one count of violation of COCCA, five counts of identity theft, one count of unauthorized use of a financial transaction device, one count of theft, five counts of criminal impersonation, two counts of criminal attempt to commit theft and one count of possession of a forged instrument.

"These are just allegations in an affidavit for an arrest warrant," McCollum said. "She has not been transferred to Eagle County as of yet."

According to Colorado law, to establish a COCCA violation, the prosecution must show that two or more acts of racketeering activity occurred within a ten-year period.

"The affidavit alleges that she took part in the same criminal activity as did Ms. Johnson," McCollum said. "It wouldn't make sense to charge only one individual with that crime; you would in essence need two or more."

Johnson is currently represented by a public defender, and Ravare will be offered representation that does not conflict. After Ravare is transferred to the Eagle County, the court will schedule a date to file formal charges.