Cuban Found Guilty of Unlawfully Possessing Debit and Credit Card Account Numbers
|May 14, 2013|
McALLEN, Texas - Pedro Garcia-Morales, a legal permanent resident from Cuba living in Donna, has been found guilty of possession of more than 15 unauthorized access devices with intent to defraud, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. The McAllen federal jury returned its verdict just a short time ago following one day of trial and less than two hours of deliberation.
During trial, the government contended Garcia-Morales, 41, knowingly possessed more than 500 account numbers linked to credit and debit cards belonging to people from all over the United States.
On Jan. 11, 2013, a search warrant was executed at the defendant’s home, at which time agents discovered two laptops, two flash drives, a credit card encoder and 49 gift/prepaid cards that had been encoded with stolen/unauthorized debit or credit card account numbers. The government proved Garcia-Morales knew the cards were to be used to make fraudulent purchases.
In fact, testimony of witnesses established that over a two-year period, Garcia-Morales used international hacking websites to purchase hundreds of account numbers. He then wired money internationally to hackers in China, Vietnam, Romania and the Ukraine. Encoding software on his laptops and flash drives was used to transfer the purchased account numbers on to the magnetic strips of gift/prepaid cards. The cards could then be used at retail stores to make seemly legitimate purchases. However, use of the cards unlawfully charged those transactions to others’ credit and debit card accounts.
U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez, who presided over the trial, has set sentencing for July 30, 2013, at 2:00 p.m., at which time he faces up to 10 years in prison and a possible $250,000 fine. He has been in custody since his arrest where he will remain pending the sentencing hearing.
U.S. Secret Service and the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office investigated. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kristen Rees and Patricia Rigney.