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Press Release

Kern County Man Sentenced to over 5 Years in Prison for $850,000 Credit Card Fraud Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

FRESNO, Calif. — Miguel Leyva, 36, of Wasco, was sentenced today to five years and five months in prison and ordered to pay $693,614 in restitution for conspiring to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft in a long-running credit card fraud scheme, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court records, between February 2016 and August 2022, Leyva and his partner and co-defendant, Karina Arceo, stole the personally identifiable information (PII) for more than 125 victims. They stole much of the PII from patient files at health care providers in Kern County where Arceo worked.

According to court documents, Leyva and Arceo used the stolen PII to open thousands of fraudulent credit cards in the victims’ identities. They used false identification documents to open the credit cards and provided billing addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses so that any communications related to the credit cards would go to them instead of the victims. They then made hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulent purchases on the credit cards in Kern County and elsewhere. The fraudulent purchases included home appliances, automobile accessories, designer clothing, tickets to concerts and sporting events, and travel, among other items.

Often times, Leyva and Arceo resold the items that they fraudulently purchased for cash and reaped a windfall because they did not actually pay for the items. They also used checks that had been stolen from companies in Kern County to access the companies’ bank accounts and make fraudulent payments towards the credit cards so as to keep their scheme going. Altogether, their scheme caused a loss of more than $825,000.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph Barton and Arelis Clemente are prosecuting the case.

Charges are pending against Arceo. The charges are only allegations; she is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated March 27, 2024

Financial Fraud