Prosecutors: Criminal Group Used Hackers in Tucson $ 400,000 Fraud Case | Local News




U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers monitor vehicles bound for Mexico passing through a port of entry in Nogales, Arizona.


Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Star



By Jessica Suriano for the Arizona Daily Star

Four Mexican nationals have teamed up with Russian hackers to counterfeit thousands of credit cards and make more than $ 400,000 in fraudulent purchases over two years in Tucson and elsewhere in Arizona, federal prosecutors have said here.

The plot included around 25 people, according to court records. The indictment included four named defendants, all of whom pleaded guilty in federal court in Tucson to conspiring to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft, and two whose names have been redacted.

The cards were used to buy Apple iPhones, designer clothes, electronics, gift cards, and other items that were sold for profit in Mexico. Prosecutors said the conspirators had fabricated 5,800 counterfeit credit cards from more than 300 financial institutions by the time the fraud was discovered.

Most of the hundreds of fraudulent purchases took place between 2013 and 2015 and involved $ 500 to $ 3,500 each, federal prosecutors said.

The group used stolen credit card information emailed from Russia, Ukraine and Tajikistan to Hermosillo, Sonora, and then to Tucson, where it was printed on counterfeit cards in a River Road apartment, according to documents filed in US District Court in Tucson.

Jorge Williams Araiza, 28, was sentenced on September 12 to three years in prison. Javier Ramirez Villegas, 36, was sentenced on 23 August to four years in prison. The two men were accused of being the “buyers” who used the counterfeit credit cards at retail stores in Tucson and the Phoenix area, according to court records.


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