Thomas Michio Taniguchi Learns it Pays to Discover--and That Crime Does Not Pay

It pays to discover. In fact,

Thomas Michio Taniguchi

, who is already sitting a state prison cell serving a four-year term for credit-card fraud, just discovered he will be paying another seven years behind bars for his Discover Card misuse at 33 Orange County locations.

The 50-year-old former Northridge resident was convicted today of illegally accessing account information with the intent to defraud 50 Discover Card account holders. As the Orange County District Attorney's Office statement on the next page reveals, Taniguchi had an Irvine accomplice.

September 17, 2010

NEWPORT BEACH - A man currently serving a state prison sentence for credit card fraud in Los Angeles County was convicted today of illegally accessing account information with the intent to defraud 50 Discover Card account holders. Thomas Michio Taniguchi, 45, formerly of Northridge, pleaded guilty to 50 counts of fraudulent possession of access to card account information. He was sentenced to seven years and eight months in state prison and was ordered to pay $33,475 in restitution to Discover Card Financial Services.

Co-defendant Jerome Abaquin Gonzales, 33, Irvine, pleaded guilty Sept. 10, 2010, to one felony count of conspiracy to commit access card fraud and one felony count of trafficking and possessing access card materials. Gonzales was sentenced to three years of formal probation and one year in jail. The defendant's sentence was based on his lack of a prior record, minimal role in the scheme, full payment of $33,475 in restitution at his sentencing, and an early acceptance of wrongdoing.

Between December 2007 and March 2008, approximately 4.2 million Discover Card accounts were compromised in a data breach involving credit cards used by grocery shoppers at Hannaford Bros. supermarkets in New England and Sweetbay supermarkets in Florida. At the time, the Hannaford data breach was and still remains one of the largest data breach to date in US history.

Between March 4, 2008, and April 2, 2008, Taniguchi obtained compromised stolen Discover Card account information from the Hannaford breach by purchasing cardholder data on the black market via the Internet. Taniguchi encoded the compromised data onto magnetic strips and placed it on the back of fake plastic cards branded with the Discover Card logo. Taniguchi fraudulently used the cards encoded with stolen account information to make purchases and obtain cash and gift cards at 33 locations throughout Orange County including Ralph's, Albertsons, Stater Bros., CVS, Target, Vons, Walgreens, and Wal-Mart stores. Gonzales then sold those gift cards to unsuspecting buyers.

On April 15, 2010, Taniguchi was sentenced in Los Angeles County to four years in state prison for similar crimes.

Deputy District Attorney Chuck Lawhorn of the White Collar Crime Unit prosecuted this case.


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