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Graffiti Suspect Arrested on Mail-Fraud Charge

November 01, 1996|JOHN M. GONZALES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SUNLAND — A suspected graffiti vandal had a less visible operation on the side--a mail-fraud scheme that yielded him false credit cards, free goods and cold cash, police said Thursday.

Raymond Saydah, 25, is suspected of robbing the mailboxes of 200 victims in La Canada Flintridge, Glendale, Tujunga and Pasadena, Los Angeles, police said. His girlfriend, Kristina Kay, 22, of Sherman Oaks was also arrested on suspicion of receiving stolen property, officers said.

"This could wreck a lot of people's credit, big time," Det. Craig Rhudy said. "It may have already done that. . . . People in these areas where he stole, who have not received [their] usual [monthly] bank records and statements, should look into it."

Saydah stole the mail in search of information such as Social Security and driver's license numbers, which could be used to acquire false credit cards or checking accounts, police said.

Although credit cards were issued in the victim's names, Saydah would have them delivered to a vacant unit next door to his Sunland condominium, police said.

He then used the fraudulent credit cards to acquire mail-order items from some 50 catalogs of stores including Nieman-Marcus, Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue, then quickly sold them to finance Saydah's suspected drug habit, police said.

Saydah is also suspected of stealing blank and written checks from the mail.

Police raided Saydah's condominium in the 10500 block of Sunland Boulevard on Tuesday and found what they expected: telltale evidence that he is the northeast Valley graffiti tagger known as "Fat Rat" or "Skex," officers said.

But they also discovered the stolen letters, they said.

Police were still sifting through the evidence Thursday and said it was too early to estimate Saydah's illegal earnings. But among his booty was an $84,000 check made out to an Arcadia businessman who was "shocked" to learn of the theft, Rhudy said.

Saydah had a telephone connected in the name of the last occupant of the vacant condo, and apparently used that line for his illegal business calls, police said.

Police said the former resident of the vacant condominium, the victims and their creditors will be contacted by U.S. Postal Service investigators. Rhudy said the Postal Service will take over the prosecution for mail fraud, a federal offense.

Saydah's suspected graffiti painting has caused tens of thousands of dollars in damage to the northeast Valley since 1993, police said.

His two-bedroom condominium was as much a canvas as a home, police said, with his suspected tagger names and other bright cartoon-like scrawls covering his refrigerator, microwave and most of the walls.

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