Officers arrested a Texas man Saturday who reportedly fraudulently purchased thousands of dollars in gift cards from several Utah County Walmarts.
Qianli Li was booked into Utah County Jail on suspicion of money laundering and a pattern of unlawful activity, both second-degree felonies, and unlawful use of a financial transaction card, a third-degree felony.
A police probable cause report states Walmart loss prevention associates reported Li to the police. Li was reportedly conducting fraudulent credit card purchases of gift cards and other prepaid cards at self-checkout registers at the Walmart stores in Cedar Hills, Saratoga Springs and American Fork. Li reportedly purchased approximately $3,000 in gift cards — about $1,000 at each store.
Officers reportedly followed Li to the Cedar Hills Walmart and arrested him outside the store after they observed him carrying out the fraudulent purchases.
“Officers believe the methods and activity exhibited by Qianli Li are similar to those apprehended earlier in the year who were conducting the same type of credit card fraud at Walmart stores in the Western United States as well as the Mid-West,” the report states.
On Jan. 23, officers made a similar arrest of two members of a “Chinese criminal organization” targeting Utah County Walmart stores with fraudulent purchases of gift cards.
During an interview with Li, officers reportedly discovered he had requested a job through a Chinese website and was provided the credit card numbers used to facilitate the transactions to purchase the cards. The report states Li was a Chinese nationalist as of 2012, but is now a U.S. citizen from Texas.
Police reportedly discovered Li is a convicted felon and has prior convictions for trademark counterfeiting out of Texas. Li is not a resident of Utah and has no ties to the area, according to the statement, and officers predict that Li is a flight risk and would not return to Utah if released.