Long-Time Fugitive Sentenced To 51 Months In Prison For Scheme To Steal 94,000 Debit And Credit Cards From Michaels’ Stores In 19 States

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CAMDEN, N.J. – A California man was sentenced today to 51 months in prison for his role in a conspiracy to steal 94,000 credit and debit cards from customers at approximately 80 Michaels’ Stores in 19 states and to then use that information to make fraudulent withdrawals from the bank accounts of those customers, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.

Jose Salazar, aka “Tito,” 45, of Riverside, California, previously pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez to Count 1 of an indictment charging him with conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Judge Rodriguez imposed the sentence by videoconference today.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Salazar and his conspirators installed devices that acquired customers’ bank account and personal identification number (PIN) information on point of sale (POS) terminals at stores operated by Michaels. The stolen account information was used to produce counterfeit bank cards, which were used with the stolen PINs to withdraw funds from the compromised bank accounts.

The conspirators allegedly replaced POS terminals in 80 different stores operated by Michaels across 19 states, including New Jersey, with counterfeit POS devices. Each counterfeit device was equipped with wireless technology, which the conspirators used to retrieve the stolen information. From February 2011 to April 2011, conspirators stole approximately 94,000 debit and credit card account numbers.

In 2011, Salazar recruited individuals to participate in the conspiracy. From April 2011 to May 2011, Salazar, Angel Angulo and others obtained counterfeit cards with the corresponding PIN numbers written on them from other conspirators. They used the cards and PIN numbers to withdraw money using automated teller machines (ATMs) from hundreds of bank accounts. Angulo pleaded guilty on June 20, 2017, and was sentenced on March 15, 2018, to three years in prison. 

In addition to the prison term, Judge Rodriguez sentenced Salazar to five years of supervised release and ordered him to pay restitution of $617,534.94.

Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the U.S. Secret Service, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James Henry in Philadelphia, for the investigation leading to today’s sentencing. She also thanked special agents with the U.S. Marshal Service, under the direction of Juan Mattos, and the International Criminal Police Organization for their assistance.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Fayer of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit.

Defense counsel: Richard Sparaco Esq., Camden

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