Lubbock Couple Behind Nationwide Identity Theft and Credit Card Scam - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

12/11/07

Lubbock Couple Behind Nationwide Identity Theft and Credit Card Scam

Courtesy: Lubbock Sheriff's Office Courtesy: Lubbock Sheriff's Office

A Lubbock couple is now charged in a nationwide identity theft and credit card scam.

The couple allegedly purchased tens of thousands of dollars worth of products with credit card information from victims in New York, Connecticut and Virginia.

Crystal Parham Zapata has been indicted on identify theft and credit card abuse. Her husband Jose Zapata was also indicted. These charges could put them behind bars for the next 20 years.

"We received a call from a police department in Connecticut in reference to identity theft and credit card abuse," says Sgt. Clay Winters, with the Lubbock Police Department.

Connecticut authorities advised LPD thousands of dollars of fraudulent purchases were being delivered to an East Lubbock home. Upon further investigation Lubbock police learned 25-year-old Crystal Parham Zapata was allegedly behind those purchases.

Zapata worked as a telemarketer taking credit card orders for an online company, ShopNBC.com.

Zapata allegedly used those credit card numbers to purchase tens of thousands of dollars worth of electronics, furniture and baby items.

Zapata and her husband, Jose Zapata, also allegedly charged a $6,000 Las Vegas vacation on one victim's card.

"We did some work on it and got a search warrant for that residence and served that warrant last Thursday," says Sgt. Winters.

Lubbock Police were able to recover most of the items purchased with the stolen credit card numbers. Authorities also found documents supporting the case against the Zapatas.

Detectives say they have identified five victims, but believe there could be up to 15 people who were scammed. The victims are from Connecticut, New York and Virginia. So far none are from Texas.

Crystal Zapata turned herself in last Friday and was released on a $20,000 bond. She is charged with credit card fraud and identity theft.

Police are still searching for her husband Jose Zapata. He is considered a suspect.

The crime is considered a state jail felony. If convicted the couple could face up to 20 years behind bars.

Lubbock Police say this case serves as an urgent reminder to protect yourself while shopping this holiday season. They say to never give your credit card number over the phone. Also always make sure you are shopping on a secured web site. But authorities say there really is no sure fire way to protect yourself.

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