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Woman faces 96 years in cash advance bank scams

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Posted at 10:57 AM, Feb 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-07 12:57:37-05

An Eagle County judge has found probable cause for theft and fraud charges against a woman accused of a coordinated bank scam in Western Colorado last year.

Cynthia Johnson was charged for her involvement in a racketeering conspiracy involving theft through a credit card scam perpetrated on local western slope banks in Eagle, Garfield, Mesa and Summit Counties in September and October of last year, according to the Eagle County District Attorney's Office. She is also known as Jacquelyn Murray.

If convicted on the racketeering charge Johnson faces a mandatory 96-year prison term in the Colorado Department of Corrections. 

“The gathering and sorting of evidence from multiple law enforcement agencies across three states has been one of the major challenges in this case,” said Assistant District Attorney, Heidi McCollum who presented evidence at the preliminary hearing earlier in the week.

“We seek additional suspects involved in this racketeering enterprise and will continue our coordination with the several agencies taking part in this complex investigation, ” McCollum added.

Johnson was arrested last October, in Frisco,  after a failed attempt to take a cash advance of nearly $5,000 from Alpine Bank using a credit card under a false name, the District Attorney's office alledges.  When the transaction could not be completed, Johnson claimed it was because the credit card company was not aware of her travel plans. Johnson then encouraged the unwitting teller to call the number on the back of the credit card that was answered by an accomplice impersonating a Capital One customer service representative who gave a fake authorization number to the teller to force the transaction, according to prosecutors

Johnson and two co-conspirators played out the identical scenario at Alpine Bank locations across the western slope.  Another woman, Vanessa Ravare, was arrested on Oct. 21, in Silverthorne, and an unknown African American male, who perpetrated the scam in Frisco and Vail in September, is still at large.  Ravare is also known as Sandra Seawell, the DA's office said.

The Breckenridge Police Department, Frisco PD, Silverthorne PD, Avon PD and the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office worked together on the investigation.

Johnson is set for arraignment on March 9., and Ravare has a disposition hearing on Feb. 17.