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Men ordered to stand trial for allegedly taking credit cards, charging $80K

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 26 2013 5:12 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Two men accused of tampering with credit cards and using them in a $80,000 shopping spree have been ordered to stand trial on the charges against them.

Yazhen Li, 27, and Chenglong Kong, 24, have been charged with one first-degree felony count of pattern of unlawful activity and nine counts of use of a fraudulent transaction card, a second-degree felony. Following a hearing on the evidence, 3rd District Judge Kate Toomey ordered the men to stand trial on the charges.

Li and Kong were two of four men accused of taking part in a scheme to take American Express cards with magnetic strips containing account information from people and use them to spend more than $80,000 at Target stores across Utah. According to the Utah Attorney General's Office, they used the cards to buy seven iPads, a camera, clothing, gift cards and a night's stay at a hotel.

The men were arrested in Centerville in May.

Mingyu Jin, 22, was also charged and pleaded guilty to one second-degree felony count of identity fraud. He was sentenced to serve one-to-15 years in prison in September. The prison term was suspended on the condition he spend 30 days in jail, cooperate in the prosecution of his co-defendants and leave the U.S. within 10 days.

Zheng Yuan, 26, faces the same 10 charges as Li and Kong. A $50,000 warrant has been issued for his arrest.

The allegations were investigated by the Utah Attorney General's Office SECURE Strike Force, which was started in 2009 to target major crimes committed by undocumented residents, including crimes involving identity theft, human trafficking, illegal guns, drugs and violent crimes.

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