Mexican Couple Caught with Target Credit Card Accounts
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) A Mexican couple was arrested January 19 and charged with multiple offenses regarding the use of fraudulent credit cards. What makes this identity theft different is that the accounts used were stolen from the Target stores data system in a December hacking incident.
Mary Carmen Garcia, 27 and Daniel Dominguez, 28, both of Monterrey, were arrested at the border after Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) personnel identified them from warrants issued by the McAllen, Texas Police Department. They were driving a white Nissan Sentra which was also associated with a fraudulent credit card shopping spree the couple embarked on beginning January 12.
"Last week we began to see some fraudulent credit card activity reported to us," said McAllen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez during a January 20 press conference. "The losses we were looking at in the transactions were in the tens of thousands of dollars."
Chief Rodriguez said that his department began an investigation into the incidents. They contacted the U.S. Secret Service to learn more about the transactions. It was at this point that the authorities became aware that the accounts being used were part of the Target data breach.
This data breach incident involved computer hackers - possibly from Eastern Europe - stealing the account numbers of millions of people who purchased items at Target stores in the United States late last year. The credit card account numbers in this case were from transactions at Target stores in Texas's Rio Grande Valley.
"We tried to identify the persons involved in this set of offenses," Rodriguez added. He said they worked with the retailers, among which were Best Buy, Toys-R-Us and Walmart. They reviewed store security videos to obtain descriptions of the people involved and their vehicle.
"As a result of that, we identified a suspect vehicle," said Rodriguez. "Then we brought in the assistance of Homeland Security-ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) - and with them we were able to narrow down a particular vehicle. We were looking for at a particular time it crossed the border into the United States."
From these border crossings Rodriguez and his team were able to identify the suspects. Warrants were issued, and the next time they crossed the border they were arrested. The McAllen police and ICE made the arrests. The accused are in custody of the McAllen police.
Rodriguez advised that merchants should be more assiduous when they have a customer who is using multiple credit cards that are rejected. He asked that merchants contact police when this happens.
Robert Siciliano, a a cybersecurity expert with BestIDTheftCompanys.com in Massachusetts, said this process to obtain multiple credit cards is very simple.
"People buy the information on the dark web, on websites accessed, for example, through Tor," he said. Tor, according to its website, is a "free software and an open network that helps you defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security." Siciliano said that these websites are used so that people can transact business with anonymity.