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Wasco couple arrested in $800K credit card fraud scheme

Miguel Leyva, 35, and Karina Gutierrez, 32, both of Wasco, were arrested on Thursday in an alleged credit card fraud scheme neting them nearly a million dollars.

A federal grand jury indicted the couple for conspiracy, bank fraud, access device fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with a long-running credit card fraud scheme, according to a press from the US Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California.

Both stole individuals' personally identifiable information, said.

According to the report, Gutierrez allegedly obtained some of the PII from the healthcare provider where she worked. It stated that the couple allegedly used that information to obtain credit cards in the victims’ names.

Leyva and Gutierrez allegedly created online accounts with credit reporting agencies for the individuals so they could check credit scores before applying for the new cards.

They then used false identification documents to open the accounts and provided billing addresses, phone numbers and email addresses over which they had control so any communications from the banks would go to them.

The Attorney’s Office said that they also used checks stolen from trucking and other companies to access the companies' bank accounts and make fraudulent payments to the credit cards.

According to court documents, the crimes occurred between February 2016 and August 2022.

The DOJ said that Leyva and Gutierrez's scheme caused a loss of over $825,000 to the banks.

They spent the proceeds on home appliances, automobile accessories, gardening equipment, designer clothing, concert tickets, professional sporting events tickets and travel, among other items.

Often, they sold the merchandise for cash on social media sites.

This case is the product of the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigation. Assistant US Attorney Joseph Barton is prosecuting the case.

According to the press release, if convicted, Leyva and Gutierrez face a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine for each of the conspiracy and bank fraud charges.

In addition, they face 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine for access device fraud charges and a mandatory two years in prison, consecutive to other counts, for identity theft charges.


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