Oxnard police have arrested a man suspected of defrauding telephone companies out of thousands of dollars by selling cellular telephones that are rigged to provide free service.
Carlos Garcia, 29, of Oxnard was arrested Thursday afternoon near the intersection of Oxnard Boulevard and Wooley Road on suspicion of cellular telephone fraud, tampering with an electronic device and possession of an illegal weapon.
Garcia used a computer to modify cellular telephones so that calls made on them bypassed the billing system set up by telephone companies, said Oxnard Police Sgt. Bob Elder. He charged $300 for a cellular telephone, which included the free service, he said.
"It's like a computer hacker. He used a computer to get into the phone system to bypass the billing," Elder said.
Several area cellular telephone companies lost a total of $6,000 in service charges because of the rigged devices, Elder said. Police said they also recovered $3,000 worth of stolen cellular telephones, the computer used to alter them and a concealed weapon in Garcia's car at the time of his arrest.
The arrest ended a two-week investigation into cellular telephone fraud detected in the Oxnard area, Elder said. An investigator hired by a consortium of cellular telephone companies uncovered the fraud and helped direct police in Garcia's direction, the police sergeant said.
Police are unsure how many people bought Garcia's rigged telephones, but they believe he has no accomplices.
Garcia was booked into the Ventura County Jail, Elder said.