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Press Release

Wasco Couple Arrested for 6-Year Credit Card Fraud Scheme that Caused $825,000 in Losses

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

FRESNO, Calif. — Miguel Leyva, 35, and Karina Gutierrez, 32, both of Wasco, were arrested today after a federal grand jury indicted them for conspiracy, bank fraud, access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft in connection with a long-running credit card fraud scheme, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court documents, between February 2016 and August 2022, Leyva and Gutierrez stole the personally identifiable information (PII) for individuals some obtained from health care providers where Gutierrez worked. They then used the PII to obtain fraudulent credit cards from banks in the identities of those individuals. Specifically, Leyva and Gutierrez created online accounts with credit reporting agencies for the individuals so they could check credit scores before applying for the credit cards. They then used false identification documents to open the credit cards and provided billing addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses over which they had control so any communications from the banks would go to them. They also used checks that had been stolen from trucking and other companies to access the companies’ bank accounts and make fraudulent payments to the credit cards.

Leyva and Gutierrez’s scheme caused an actual 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 times, they sold the merchandise for cash on social media sites.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Barton is prosecuting the case.

If convicted, Leyva and Gutierrez face a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and $1 million fine for each of the conspiracy and bank fraud charges, 10 years in prison and $250,000 fine for the access device fraud charges, and mandatory two years in prison, consecutive to other counts, for the identity theft charges. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of the applicable statutory factors and Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations. Leyva and Gutierrez are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated November 17, 2022

Financial Fraud
Identity Theft