California woman sentenced in credit card scam

Rocio Margarita Contreras Loya, 40, of Santa Fe Springs, was sentenced Monday to two years in prison by Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill.

Contreras Loya pleaded guilty in January to one count each of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Twenty-one other counts were dismissed in exchange for her guilty plea. Winmill also ordered her to pay more than $15,000 in restitution and forefeit nearly $27,000 in cash proceeds from the crimes.

She had faced up to 20 years in prison on the wire fraud charge. The aggravated identity theft charge carries a minimum two-year sentence consecutive to the other charge.

Co-defendant Arleen Gadrina Cifuentes, 31, of Riverside, also pleaded guilty in January to the same charges. Her sentencing is set for May 27.

They, along with Ivan Izeta "Junior" Fonseca, who has not been apprehended were charged with using fraudulently obtained credit cards to buy merchandise and gift cards during trips to Boise and Twin Falls between July 2013 and July 2014.

According to federal prosecutors, the defendants obtained names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, addresses, telephone numbers, driver’s license numbers and financial account numbers for unsuspecting victims. They used that information to obtain credit reports on each of the victims to view their financial profiles.

Later, they created false identifications using the stolen information but with photographs of the defendants. They applied for credit from Sears, J.C. Penney, Lowe’s, Best Buy and Victoria’s Secret stores in the victims’ names and were instantly able to buy items and gift cards.

The largest take was from Lowe’s, where $14,903 worth of merchandise was purchased during seven transactions at stores in Boise and Meridian.

An additional $4,399 worth of merchandise was bought during two trips to a Boise Sears store, along with $4,148 during two trips to J.C. Penney in Boise, one $1,869 purchase at a Best Buy in Twin Falls and $1,457 during two trips to a Victoria’s Secret in Boise.

Altogether, the alleged identity thieves made off with $26,776 in merchandise and gift cards. Contreras Loya was responsible for $14,376 of the losses, with Cifuentes responsible for $9,171 and Fonseca for $3,230.