A 38-year-old man from Dallas was charged by a federal jury last week on allegations of making fraudulent credit cards using information obtained from the dark web. Carlos M. Garza Junior would purchase the card details on the darknet then use the information to reproduce similar copies of the cards using a magnetic encoder.
Garza’s arrest came on May 15 after a complaint of theft was made by an employee of a local store. The employee worked at Lubbock’s Home Depot store that dealt with electric appliances, construction tools, and services. Soon after the complaint was made, Lubbock police met the employee at the store on 50th street to investigate the case.
According to the police report, the employee said that Garza had been in the store just moments before and he had purchased items worth a couple of thousands of dollars, which seemed quite suspicious to him. He then placed the items in his truck and was about to transport them to his workplace. The employee also informed them that the vehicle was still in the shop’s parking lot.
Police found Garza at the said spot and confronted him in a bid to know where he received the money to pay for such items and how he intended to use them. Garza claimed that he was employed by a subcontractor whose company specialized in electrical work and that he was just running his usual errands. The company and subcontractor were contacted by police to confirm Garza’s statement, but both denied having an employee by the name Garza. He was also asked to provide any evidence of employment at said company but he could not supply the requested proof.
Officers concluded that he was posing as an employee to hide the real reason he had purchased the items and how he managed to afford such expensive items. He was arrested outside the store on account of theft and detained at the Detention Center in Lubbock County.
A search of his vehicle revealed a laptop and a box of receipts containing all the items he had been buying using the counterfeit cards. More than 70 credit cards had been used to perform over 140 transactions, two of which involved bitcoin. A white crystal substance, later confirmed to be methamphetamine, was also found in his wallet. Another search conducted at Garza’s motel room revealed a second laptop, equipment for card encryption, and a number of counterfeit credit cards.
In a statement recorded following his arrest, Garza told police that a resident of Dallas would sell to him fake orders which he would use to purchase business materials in an effort to save his own money. This is also the reason he bought stolen card numbers from the dark web.
He further told the police that one of the laptops recovered was used for work purposes since he was a partner in an electrical company. The second laptop was used to access the darknet in order to purchase card numbers.
Garza reported that he was introduced to the business by a man from Nigeria whom he met in a local tire shop. Investigators suspect this is a false claim as many similar statements have been made by darknet criminals who wish to hide the identity of those who introduced them to the business or that of their accomplices.
He was presented before the grand jury of the Lubbock county court in August and charged with a number of federal felonies. These include possession of more than fifteen unauthorized and fake cards, trafficking of credit card production equipment, stealing money worth $2,000-$30,000 using counterfeit credit cards, and illegal possession of about 1g of methamphetamine.
Later in November, he made a second appearance in court where he pleaded guilty to possession of an illegal substance. In return, he was given a 6-month imprisonment term at the county jail, and the charges for credit card theft were dismissed.
Authorities urge credit card users to keep their cards safe by reporting lost or stolen credit cards immediately and by reporting suspicious activities such as a sudden unexplained hike in credit card dues. Moreover, users should avoid clicking on site links sent to their emails since some are illegitimate and are often part of phishing scams.