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Latino Daily News

Friday July 13, 2012

Mexican Nationals Bilk Hundreds of Thousands in Cross-border Credit Card Scheme

Investigators with the U.S. Secret Service say they uncovered an international credit card fraud operation based out of Texas.

With a search warrant in hand, the Secret Service found Mario Wong to be in possession of hundreds of gift and credit cards, a credit card encoder, various electronics, cocaine, and steroids. Investigators also found a All were found during a search of Wong’s McAllen, TX apartment. Two SUVs were also confiscated, a Hummer H2 and a BMW X5, as well as two motorcycles. Authorities also searched accomplice Jahira Montemayor’s home, which is located in the same complex as Wong’s. There they found $5,000 in cash, 100 American Express gift cards, 15 counterfeit WalMart gift cards, and electronics. Wong’s brother, Hugo, is also said to have been involved in the scheme.

Wong and Montemayor, both Mexican nationals, were caught when a man reported $340 missing from his bank account. Though we are unclear why, the man believed the thief was located at the Academy Sports + Outdoors store in McAllen. McAllen police found Wong at the store and found he was in possession of several credit and gift cards.

When questioned, Wong implicated both his brother and a man named Arnaldo Sanchez-Torteya, though neither have been charged.

Wong claims he met Sanchez-Torteya in Monterrey, Mexico in early 2011. He told investigators that shortly after meeting Sanchez-Torteya, he was kidnapped by members of the Zetas drug cartel. Wong says he was then tortured for weeks. After being released, Wong says he moved to McAllen where he ran into Sanchez-Torteya once again. He soon agreed to join Sanchez-Torteya’s credit card fraud scheme.

Wong admitted to having about $120,000 dollars in his checking accounts. Authorities were able to confirm he had at least $113,000 in his Wells Fargo saving and checking accounts.

Montemayor and Wong now face charges of federal fraud. It is believed at least another 15 others were a part of this fraud operation.