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Police: IDs stolen to pay for Disney obsession

Alexander Pera

Alexander Pera

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Updated: August 10, 2013 6:32AM



The manager of a Lincolnshire restaurant allegedly stole the identities of customers to fund his fixation with Walt Disney World, taking 15 trips to theme park resorts in a five-month period under false names, police said.

Alexander Pera, 26, of Chicago, was arrested July 2 and charged with aggravated identity theft, identity theft and money laundering, according to Lincolnshire police.

During his time as manager of Eddie Merlot’s restaurant in Lincolnshire, police said Pera stole the identities of at least 50 people, including customers and former employees, to steal more than $50,000.

Much of the money was spent on 15 separate Walt Disney World Resort stays during five months, plus two cruises aboard Disney Cruise Line this past spring, police said.

Pera facilitated the crimes by providing fraudulent information to Disney and airlines when making travel plans, police said.

He allegedly made reservations using false names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses, and paid for them with fraudulently obtained gift cards and pre-paid credit cards, purchased with stolen credit card numbers and cash, police said.

“He would essentially steal your credit card number and buy prepaid gift cards and use them to pay for flights, cruises,” Lincolnshire Detective Adam Hyde said. “He used fake IDs at check-ins.”

Officials at Eddie Merlot’s in Lincolnshire told police they were shocked by the news, Hyde said.

“They obviously wanted to help us,” he said. “They don’t want their customers to suffer these kinds of things, so they have been more than cooperative.”

Pera was arrested on his way to work and found with fake IDs, gift cards and a loaded handgun in his possession, a police statement said.

In bond court July 3, Judge Raymond Collins ordered Pera held in the Lake County Jail on a $500,000 bond.



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