Breach, Threat Management, Data Security, Malware

Texas police arrest two in connection with Target breach

The McAllen Police Department in South Texas, in collaboration with the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), has arrested two individuals in connection with the late-2013 Target breach.

On Jan. 19, Daniel Dominguez and Mary Vaquera were busted by authorities while crossing the Anzalduas International Bridge – which connects Texas and Mexico – with 112 payment cards in their possession, McAllen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez said during a Jan. 20 press conference.

“Last week we began to see some fraudulent credit card activity reported to us,” Rodriguez said. “The losses in the transactions we were looking at were in the tens of thousands of dollars. The activity began to all happen at or around Sunday, the 12th of January.”

After confirming that the fraudulent charges were related to accounts involved in the Target breach, investigators identified the suspects through surveillance videos and honed in on their vehicle as it crossed in and out of the U.S., Rodriguez said.

After warrants were issued, police intercepted the suspects as they crossed the Anzalduas International Bridge, Rodriguez said, explaining while Dominguez and Vaquera have confessed to complicity, police are still working to understand their exact roles in the Target breach operation.

During a roughly three-week attack at the end of 2013, nearly 40 million payment cards – among heaps of other information – were stolen when criminals compromised point-of-sale (POS) machines belonging to retail giant Target. The operation was dubbed KAPTOXA.

“When there's a breach like that, somebody's got a pool of data,” Rodriguez said. “Someone in Mexico is obviously buying that data and producing the cards and then trying to make the runs into the area to capitalize on it.”

Dominguez and Vaquera racked up thousands of dollars in fraudulent charges at locations including Best Buy, Walmart, Toys “R” Us and Kmart, Rodriguez said, explaining that in some cases the suspects would hand the clerks more than ten canceled cards before one went through.

A Target representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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