SARATOGA SPRINGS — Two California men were arrested Monday and accused of engaging in gift card fraud at Utah Walmart stores.

Lin Lu, 31, of Santa Rosa, and Yong Sun, 23, of Temple City, were booked into jail for investigation of communications fraud, money laundering and engaging in a pattern of unlawful activity.

Police were called to the Walmart in Saratoga Springs after store security recognized Lu as someone who had purchased multiple gift cards three days earlier at a South Jordan Walmart, according to a police affidavit. The two men were allegedly “using gift card codes off of their cellphones to buy other gift cards.”

Police noted that this was “the exact same method of operation as previous suspects involved in international fraud,” the affidavit states.

Investigators described the activity as an “intricate and complex fraud ring.”

“The fraud rings are commonly based in China or India. Typically, persons involved in these types of fraud deploy various types of scam, both on computers and by phone calls to which victims ultimately get blackmailed or fraudulently pressured into buying Walmart gift cards and transmitting the gift card information to people within the fraud organization,” according to the affidavit.

Police say people then receive that gift card information and use it to purchase other gift cards.

“This makes it far more difficult to trace where the money came from, or where it ended up going, and most important of all, who was responsible for committing the fraud,” the affidavit states.

When interviewed by police, Sun stated he knows Lu from working together in a restaurant in Arizona, “and they had both decided to start buying gift cards to make money due to the fact they lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the affidavit states.

Police also searched the men’s vehicle and found 1,500 to 2,000 more gift cards, ranging from $10 to $50 each.