[ISN] Leader in TJX Fraud Gets 5-Year Sentence

From: InfoSec News (alerts@private)
Date: Fri Sep 14 2007 - 22:03:39 PDT


By Joseph Pereira
The Wall Street Journal
September 14, 2007

Irving Escobar, a ring leader in a TJX Cos.-linked credit-card fraud, 
was sentenced to five years in prison and has been ordered to pay nearly 
$600,000 in restitution for damages resulting from stolen financial 
information, Florida officials said.

The sentencing follows a guilty plea by Mr. Escobar, 19 years old, of 
Miami, to charges that he participated in a 10-person operation that 
used counterfeit cards bearing the stolen credit-card data of hundreds 
of TJX customers to purchase approximately $3 million in goods and gift 
cards. The penalty is the stiffest handed down so far in the case.

The thefts were carried out at a string of Wal-Mart and Sam's Club 
stores in Florida during the second half of 2006, authorities said. Some 
of the merchandise was bought with gift cards that had previously been 
purchased with the fraudulent credit cards, a modern-day version of 
money laundering, officials said.

In addition to Mr. Escobar, police arrested five others in March in 
connection with the scheme. Four have pled guilty to similar charges and 
were sentenced to probation in August. A fifth defendant, Mr. Escobar's 
mother, Nair Alvarez, who also pled guilty, was deported to Venezuela 
for lack of proper immigration papers.

In January, TJX, Framingham, Mass., reported that hackers broke into its 
computer system used to manage credit- and debit-card transactions as 
well as checks and merchandise returns.

Though the defendants were found in possession of credit card numbers 
belonging to TJX customers, investigators believe other criminals are 
responsible for hacking into TJX's computer systems.

Copyright 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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