McAllen man made $120,000 in cross-border credit card scheme
Tue, 10 Jul 2012 17:34:15 GMT —
A McAllen man is behind bars after making more than $120,000 dollars in a cross-border credit card scheme.
U.S. Secret Service agents arrested 33-year-old Mario Wong and 34-year-old Jahira Montemayor on federal fraud charges on Friday.
Court records show that Wong, Montemayor and at least 15 others were part of a counterfeit credit card network based out of Monterrey, Mexico.
A criminal complaint show that Wong and the others used counterfeit credit and debit cards to draw tens of thousands in dollars in cash from at least 130 ATMs in the Rio Grande Valley.
The group also used the cards to buy thousands of dollars worth of electronics that were taken south by Mexican nationals.
The scheme all came unraveled in June when a man reported an unauthorized draft on his ATM card to McAllen police.
The man spotted Wong inside an Academy sporting goods store where McAllen police found him with several credit cards and gift cards.
Court records show that Montemayor, Wong and his brother Hugo Wong all lived at the same apartment complex on the 2300 block of Redbud Avenue in McAllen.
Authorities paid a visit to the apartment complex where they spoke to Montemayor.
Investigators allegedly found $5,000 dollars in cash, 100 American Express gift cards, electronics and at least 15 counterfeit WalMart cards inside Montemayor TMs apartment.
Authorities also searched Wong TMs apartment where they allegedly found 300 gift cards, 75 counterfeit credit cards, a credit card encoder and sticker sheets with close to 1,200 PIN numbers on them.
Kidnapped & Tortured
Wong spoke to Secret Service agents about his involvement with the credit card fraud scheme.
He said it all started when he met a man named Arnaldo Sanchez-Torteya in Monterrey, Mexico back in early 2011.
Shortly after meeting Sanchez-Torteya, Wong said the Zetas drug cartel kidnapped and tortured him for about two weeks.
Wong moved to McAllen after the kidnapping but ran into Sanchez-Torteya at a party in Pharr where he agreed to start working in the credit card network.
Wong told Secret Service agents that he would receive shipments of credit cards and debit cards with PIN numbers from Monterrey.
According to a criminal complaint, Wong would distribute them to other members of the group.
Wong told investigators that used the cards to buy electronics and other items but would keep 20 percent of debit card withdrawals for himself.
The McAllen man told Secret Service agents that he had at least $120,000 dollars in his check accounts.
Authorities confirmed that Wong had at least $113,000 dollars in his Wells Fargo checking and savings accounts.
Court records show that authorities also seized $5,000 dollars in cash, steroids, cocaine, a Hummer H2, a BMW X5 and two motorcycles from Wong TMs home.
Both Wong and Montemayor appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter Ormsby on Friday morning.
Court records show that both of them are Mexican nationals.
Judge Ormsby denied bond for both of them until Wednesday afternoon bond hearing.
Federal court records show that Wong is waiving his right to a bond hearing.
No other suspects have been identified or publicly charged at this time.