Identity Theft Crime Ring Leader Gets 25 Years

The leader of a crime ring was sentenced to 25 years in state prison for stealing thousands of personal identities and counterfeiting credit cards to buy high-end goods to be resold on eBay and Craigslist. Christopher John Aragon, 52, Capistrano Beach, pleaded guilty March 26, 2012, to 50 felony counts including 33 counts of unauthorized use of personal identifying information, 13 counts of grand theft, two counts of counterfeiting access cards, and one count each of conspiracy to commit a crime and the sale or transport of a controlled substance. He also admitted to two sentencing enhancements for property damage over $1 million and aggravated white collar crime over $500,000.

Dude was a prolific identity thief.

Between March 29, 2004, and April 15, 2007, Christopher Aragon led a crime ring which included his wife Clara Aragon and six co-defendants. Co-defendant Shitrit was a hacker who obtained victims’ credit card numbers used to encode forged credit cards. Christopher Aragon and his co-defendants used credit profiles and personal identifying information of victims to make fraudulent California driver’s licenses, credit cards, and gift cards. The defendants encoded the magnetic strips of the credit and gift cards with stolen account information, and used the cards to purchase high-end merchandise, including designer handbags, jewelry, clothing, and electronics.

At Shirit’s Aliso Viejo apartment, investigators found a forgery lab designed to encode credit cards in the process of being set up, and credit card writers, and thumb drives with thousands of hacked and stolen credit card numbers.

In a similar bust, Kirkland Washington police detectives received a great deal of assistance from Portland-based iovation. iovation’s ReputationManager 360 service was used to track down the fraudulent credit applications at various retail chains, which originated from a group of computers that iovation linked together within their vast network of more than 950 million unique devices. In addition to nabbing the thief, they were able to help identify other victims within the state who were not yet aware they had been impacted.

Protect yourself:

Get a credit freeze

Monitor your credit card statements

Get a locking mailbox

Check your credit report at least every year.

Robert Siciliano, personal security and identity theft expert contributor to iovation. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video. Disclosures.

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