A ring of gift-card fraudsters used information gleaned from the massive security breach at retail giant TJX Companies to run up more than $8 million in charges at other retailers, according to charges filed by Florida prosecutors this week against ten suspects.
In a statement released on Monday, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) stated that six suspects, whose ages ranged from 18 to 40 years old, were arrested and charged with organizing a scheme to defraud, which is a first-degree felony. Arrest warrants for four other suspects currently exist, according to the statement.
The suspects are accused of using credit-card numbers stolen from TJX Companies--the owner of T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods and A.J. Wright stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico and of Winners and HomeSense stores in Canada--to buy gift cards, which were subsequently used to purchase big-ticket items such as big-screen televisions and computers at Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores throughout Florida. A FDLE spokesperson confirmed that the credit-card numbers came from the TJX data breach.
The investigation began in November 2006, a month before TJX Companies detected the breach of their systems, when the Gainesville Police Department were notified by Wal-Mart that a gift-card fraud scheme had been detected at its Gainesville store, the FDLE said in its statement.
TJX Companies has not described the extent of the breach nor the security measures in place to protect customers financial data. The Federal Trade Commission has opened up an investigation into the companies practices and at least one shareholder has filed a lawsuit against the company for more information about the security breach.
Posted by: Robert Lemos