California woman sent to prison for credit card fraud

Arleen Cifuentes, 32, of Riverside, Calif., was sentenced Wednesday to nearly six years in federal prison for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill also ordered Cifuentes to pay $107,538 in restitution and to forfeit $26,777 in cash.

She was sentenced to nearly four years for wire fraud and a mandatory two years for aggravated identity theft. Under federal law, the sentence for identity theft must be served separately from any other prison time imposed.

Cifuentes and two co-defendants — Rocio Contreras Loya and Ivan Fonseca — allegedly obtained credit cards under other person’s names and used to them purchase merchandise and gift cards during trips last July to Boise and Twin Falls. The two women were arrested July 24 after making fraudulent purchases at the Boise Towne Square Mall.

Federal prosecutors say 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 then used that information to obtain credit reports on each of the victims to view their financial profile.

Later, they created false identifications using the stolen information but with a photograph of one of the defendants. With that, they applied for credit from Sears, JC Penney, Lowe's, Best Buy and Victoria's Secret stores in the victims' names and were instantly able to purchase 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. Another $4,399 in merchandise was bought during two trips to a Boise Sears store, along with $4,148 during two trips to JC Penney in Boise, one $1,869 purchase at a Best Buy store in Twin Falls and $1,457 during two trips to a Victoria's Secret store in Boise.

Contreras Loya was sentenced last month to two years in prison. She also pleaded guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Both women had faced up to 10 years each in prison.

Fonseca remains a fugitive.