Jose Carillo was arrested with more than $1 million worth of fraudulently purchased merchandise, equipment for making counterfeit credit cards and was caught on tape buying $100,000 worth of gasoline with the cards--and he's not even considered the kingpin in the identity theft ring.
Even after law enforcement officers knew where Carillo had set up shop it wasn’t easy to get to him: His house was at the end of a dirt road in Sunland Cal. and protected by a chain-link fence and a yard full of dogs. The room where Carillo manufactured fraudulent credit cards was under the house and accessible only through a closet door.
Authorities found a lot of big-ticket loot stashed in storage areas on Carillo’s property besides the credit cards and the equipment for making them. The evidence included a 1989 Rolls Royce, a BMW 745, a Bombardier ski boat, a Ford F-250 pickup truck, six plasma TVs and numerous computers still in their boxes.
Cardholder information was gathered using skimmers in gas pumps at truck stops. Once account information was used to create the new bogus credit cards, they were used, not just in California where they originated, but also in Arizona, Nevada, Texas and Pennsylvania.
“That’s why we know it’s a nationwide operation,” said Sgt. Joshua Mankini of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department identity theft division.
As many as 10,000 people have been victimized by the identity theft ring, according to the authorities.
Carillo faces 45 ID theft charges and is being held on $2 million bail.
Antonio Lopez was also arrested in the sting and has been charged with 54 counts of identity theft, buying the vehicles with other people’s identities and being in the U.S. illegally. He’s being held on $1 million bail.