Two natives of Monterrey, Mexico, were arrested at the U.S. border after they were accused of using cards containing account information stolen in the Target security breach.
The Associated Press reports that stolen information is being divided up and sold off regionally, according to the McAllen, Texas police chief. He told a press conference that the couple taken into custody on state fraud charges arrived at the border with fraudulent credit cards they had used to buy tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise in the area.
‘‘They’re obviously selling the data sets by region,’’ Chief Victor Rodriguez said, adding that he expected the duo to face federal charges, too.
USA Today said the couple is believed to have purchased the card information from overseas hackers, then used those numbers to create phoney bank and gift cards. They were apprehended with 96 credit cards cloned with account information from last month's breach of Target customer data. Rodriguez alluded to a link with Eastern Europe or Russia.
McAllen police began working with the Secret Service after area retailers were hit with fraudulent purchases on Jan. 12. Rodriguez said the suspects singled out Sundays for shopping sprees because banks would not be as quick to detect the fraud on that day.
The Secret Service confirmed that the fraudulent accounts traced back to the original Target data breach, Rodriguez said. However, one federal official told the Associated Press that the arrest is not connected to the Target data theft.
The couple was arrested Sunday morning at the Anazalduas International Bridge as they tried to re-enter the United States at the border. The McAllen Monitor reported that police said the couple went on a shopping spree with the cards, charging thousands of dollars for high-end electronics.
Last week investigators said a 17-year-old Russian boy was suspected as the author of the malware embedded at Target cash registers. Target said last week it has stopped more than a dozen operations that sought to scam breach victims by way of e-mail, phone calls and text messages. The Target security breach is believed to have involved 40 million credit and debit card accounts, and personal information from 70 million customers.