(USA Today) -- A couple from Mexico has been arrested after being caught with 96 credit cards cloned with account information from last month's breach of Target customer data, police tell news organizations.
However, one federal official who requested anonymity has told the Associated Press that the arrest is not connected to the Target data theft.
The arrest of Mary Carmen Garcia, 27, and Daniel Guardiola Dominguez, 28, near the United States-Mexico border over the weekend is leading authorities to believe that data from the theft of almost 100 million credit card numbers from Target's computer system is being sold regionally, the Monitor of McAllen, Texas, is reporting.
Garcia and Dominguez were arrested Sunday morning at the Anazalduas International Bridge as they tried to re-enter the United States at the border, CBS affiliate KGBT reports. They drove a white Nissan Sentra and when they reached the inspection booth, they were stopped for outstanding warrants from McAllen, the Monitor reported, citing a statement from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The federal agency could not be reached Monday evening.
Law enforcement believes the pair are part of a much larger fraud conspiracy, the Monitor reports.
However, the Associated Press reports this might not completely be the case.
Late Monday, a federal official with knowledge of the arrests said there was no connection between this one and the ongoing probe into the Target breach, but would not elaborate. The official requested anonymity because the official is barred from providing details about the probe.
The recently arrested couple is believed to have purchased the credit card information from overseas hackers, and then used those numbers to create a series of bank cards and gift cards, according to the Monitor. They made the cards with data stolen from residents of Rio Grande Valley, McAllen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez told the Monitor.
The McAllen, Texas, police department did not return a call for details on what took place.
During the weekend of Jan. 12, the couple went on a shopping spree with the cards, charging tens of thousands of dollars worth of high-end electronics equipment, Rodriguez told the Monitor.
With help from the Secret Service, police detectives were able to connect the account numbers to some stolen during the Target breach, Rodriguez told the news organization. Surveillance photos helped identify the car.
The pair were being held on state fraud charges and it was not immediately known if they had retained lawyers.
Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder told the Associated Press that the investigation into the breach was ongoing, and referred the news organization to local law enforcement for details about the pair who were arrested.
The Minneapolis-based company said last week that it has stopped more than a dozen operations that sought to scam breach victims by way of e-mail, phone calls and text messages.
A message left for the Secret Service on Monday was not immediately returned.
With the help of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, investigators confirmed the identities of their suspects from immigration records of when they had entered Texas in the same vehicle. Police prepared arrest warrants last week and waited for them to return.
Rodriguez said investigators suspect Garcia and Guardiola were singling out Sundays for their shopping sprees hoping that the banks would not be as quick to detect the fraud.
The Target security breach is believed to have involved 40 million credit and debit card accounts and the personal information of 70 million customers.
By Melanie Eversley, USA TODAY