“Traveling Crew” Sentenced for Using Stolen Debit Card Numbers from Local Bank
BOISE – On March 15 and 16, 2017, Alejandro Hidalgo, 27, Dilcia Martinez-Marquez, 27, Enrique Matos-Herrera, 30, and Jose Salazar-Quintana, 30, were sentenced to prison for using stolen debit card numbers to make over $30,000 of fraudulent purchases at local Walmart stores and other businesses, Acting U.S. Attorney Rafael M. Gonzalez, Jr. announced. Senior U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge sentenced Hidalgo, Matos-Herrera, and Salazar-Quintana, Cuban nationals who were living in Amarillo, Texas, to 48 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Martinez-Marquez, an El Salvadorian national married to Hidalgo, was sentenced to 21 months in prison and three years of supervised release. The defendants also were ordered to pay $30,620.58 in restitution.
On December 5, 2016 a federal jury convicted all the defendants of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Hidalgo also was convicted of six counts each of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Martinez-Marquez also was convicted of four counts of wire fraud. Matos-Herrera was convicted of four counts each of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. And Salazar-Quintana was convicted of seven counts each of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. In handing down the sentences in this case, Judge Lodge noted that the jury only needed to deliberate for a couple hours despite the number of counts charged in the case.
The week-long trial established that the defendants, and their co-defendants, Luis Mejias-Fiz, 27, and Eslay Monzon, 43, traveled to Idaho for the purpose of executing their scheme. They rented hotel rooms and traveled to at least seven Walmart stores and a couple of Walgreens stores in the Treasure Valley on October 15 and 16, 2015. They obtained stolen debit card numbers from “dark web” internet sites that traffic in stolen account numbers. The defendants targeted Idaho residents by obtaining stolen debit card account numbers from Idaho Independent Bank. They fraudulently encoded the stolen account numbers onto the magnetic strips of stock gift cards and then used the re-encoded cards to purchase new gift cards and other merchandise. On October 16, 2015––thanks in part to tips from members of the public––the Meridian Police Department apprehended the defendants in the vehicle they were sharing. Through the investigation, law enforcement recovered thousands of dollars-worth of gift cards, merchandise, and a computer that the defendants used to execute their scheme.
Co-defendants Monzon and Mejias-Fiz, who pleaded guilty before trial and testified against their co-conspirators at the trial, were sentenced to 25 months and 21 months in prison, respectively.
Conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud are punishable by up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release. Aggravated identity theft is punishable by a mandatory two years in prison, to be served consecutively to the sentence imposed for the underlying felony.
The case was investigated by the Meridian Police Department and the United States Secret Service.