Identity Theft

Stolen Credit Cards Fueled Millionaire Lifestyle

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A multimillion-dollar spending spree came to an end when Miguel Gonzalez of Miami pleaded guilty to using stolen credit card data to fund his lavish lifestyle during the past three years, the U.S. District Attorney of New Jersey announced in an Aug. 8 news release.

It seems he had quite the life before getting caught. He had several houses and fancy vehicles, including a $90,000 Porche Panamera, a Ferrari, a few BMWs and a Range Rover, the New Jersey Star-Ledger reports. Apparently, he liked things in multiples, because he had thousands of credit cards, as well.

From January 2010 to July 2013, Gonzalez bought the stolen credit card information of more than 114,000 accounts (some of which were sold by thieves who hacked into New Jersey companies’ databases). He and associates then produced fake credit cards using the stolen data. The shopping spree was on.

Prosecutors say Gonzalez also bought a speed boat and fine jewelry with the illicit funds. It seems odd he was able to buy homes with credit cards, though that’s what prosecutors say he did. In all, credit card issuers say the escapades amounted to $23 million in losses.

Gonzalez’ sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 21, where he’ll face a potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine for conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Given the prevalence of data breaches, companies and credit card issuers are on alert for fraud, but you are likely the best line of defense between a thief and your financial accounts. It helps to set alerts for transactions exceeding a certain amount of money, but sometimes unauthorized activity comes across in small quantities. A daily glance at your bank and credit card accounts will easily help you spot a transaction you didn’t make, so you can cut off the thief before he or she damages your finances.

Otherwise, fraudsters can run up a massive credit card bill, which can trash your credit standing or drain your checking account and cause all kinds of problems for you. To help you spot potential fraud and see how credit card use affects your credit, you can look at two of your credit scores for free using Credit.com.

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Image: Ivan Cholakov

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