CHRISTI, Texas – The owner of American Auto Pros in Corpus Christi has been
ordered to federal prison after admitting he used numerous credit card accounts
belonging to others in order to obtain things of value without authorization,
announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick. Antonio Arteaga, 38, of Corpus
Christi, pleaded guilty Nov. 2, 2017, to one count of credit card fraud and one
count of aggravated identity theft.
Senior U.S. District Judge Hilda G. Tagle handed Arteaga a 12-month sentence
for the credit card fraud as well as a consecutive 24 months for the identity
theft. The total sentence of three years will be immediately followed by an
additional three years of supervised release. He was further ordered to
pay restitution to his victims. In handing down the sentence, Judge Tagle noted
she could put herself in the victims’ shoes, citing one victim that learned of
the fraud when her credit card was declined at a gas pump and the ripple effect
of bounced checks and missed payments which would follow the victims of his
fraud. Judge Tagle went on to explain that Arteaga’s customers relied on
his honesty in taking their credit cards as payment and the entire credit card
system counts on the honesty of merchants.
was arrested Aug. 18, 2017, following an investigation into a series of
fraudulent ATM withdrawals in Corpus Christi and surrounding areas. Many of the
victims had been customers at Arteaga’s business, American Auto Pros.
Authorities executed a search warrant at the business which led to the discovery
of a credit card processing pad that was connected to a laptop computer in the
office. This allowed Arteaga to illegally capture the account information and
PIN numbers of credit and debit cards used there.
a subsequent search of Arteaga’s home, law enforcement found a magnetic strip
encoder that had been used to replace the information on the magnetic strip of
gift cards with the compromised credit and debit card numbers. Agents also
found numerous altered gift cards with the encoder at Arteaga’s house and
additional gift cards illegally re-encoded with victim’s credit card
information in Arteaga’s vehicle and wallet.
determined that between Dec. 10, 2016, and Aug. 18, 2017, Arteaga unlawfully
used the credit and debit card information of dozens of American Auto Pros
customers to withdraw tens of thousands of dollars from his victims’
was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of
Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
Secret Service conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Corpus
Christi Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert D. Thorpe Jr. is
prosecuting the case.