CORPUS CHRISTI –
The owner of an automotive business in Corpus Christi has been convicted of credit card fraud and identity theft after he pleaded guilty to the crimes in court on Thursday.
Corpus Christi native Antonio Arteaga, 38, owner of American Auto Pros in Corpus Christi, pleaded guilty to one count of credit card fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft, admitting to using numerous credit card accounts belonging to others to obtain things of value without authorization.
Arteaga had been arrested back on August 18, 2017 after an investigation into a series of fraudulent ATM withdrawals in Corpus Christi and the surrounding area. Many of the victims were said to have been customers at Arteaga’s business, American Auto Pros.
Authorities carried out a search warrant at the business which led to the discovery of a credit card processing pad connected to a nearby laptop. This reportedly allowed Arteaga to illegally capture the account information and PIN numbers of credit and debit cards used there.
A subsequent search of Arteaga’s house found a magnetic strip encoder that had been used to replace the magnetic strip of gift cards with compromised credit and debit card numbers. Agents found numerous altered gift cards at the home and more re-encoded gift cards with victim’s credit card information in Arteaga’s vehicle and wallet.
Agents were said to have determined that between Dec. 10, 2016 and Aug. 18, 2017, Arteaga unlawfully used the credit and debit information of dozens of American Auto Pros customers to withdraw tens of thousands of dollars from his victim’s accounts. The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Secret Service along with Corpus Christi Police Department.
A U.S. District Judge set sentencing for January 30, 2018, where Arteaga could face up to 10 years in federal prison for the credit card fraud. On the charge of aggravated identity theft, he will also face a mandatory two year sentence that must be served consecutively to any other prison term imposed. All charges also carry a possible fine up to $250,000.
Arteaga was permitted to remain on bond pending his sentencing hearing.