Credit card scam nets $241,600 from Home Depot, Lowe’s

A conspiracy involving fraudulent credit accounts at Home Depot and Lowe’s obtained $241,600 in merchandise before federal and local authorities uncovered the plot, according to an announcement from the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Eastern District of California.

Jairo Fernandez, 27, of Bakersfield, Calif., pled guilty to a credit card fraud conspiracy that involved two other individuals, according to court documents. Fernandez admitted that between November 2007 and August 2010, he conspired with Jorge Palenzuela, 42, of Bakersfield, and Yuri Perez Machado, 39, of Delano, to open credit card accounts with Lowe’s and Home Depot stores in their own names but using the information taken from publicly available business documents of victim companies, including the companies' employer or tax identification numbers. Fernandez and his alleged co-conspirators obtained credit card account numbers in California, Kansas and Texas.

This case is the product of an investigation by the United States Secret Service, with assistance from the Bakersfield Police Department.

Fernandez is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 9, 2012. He faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison. The actual sentence, however, may also be influenced by other variables under the statutory sentencing factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

Charges against Palenzuela and Machado are pending. The two are scheduled for a hearing on Nov. 21, 2011. Neither has admitted guilt to the allegations.