Georgetown arrest may be connected to massive Target data breach

GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — A man arrested last December in Georgetown may be connected to the massive data breach that affected millions of Target customers, according to court documents.

Authorities charged Guo Xing Chen, 40, with credit card abuse after police say he fraudulently used another person’s card to make purchases at a Target store in Georgetown, 1021 West University Avenue, on Dec. 12, 2013.

“It is also believed Chen is involved in a large-scale credit breach believed to be in excess of $70 million according to investigators from the Target Corporation,” an arrest affidavit said.

A loss prevention employee at the Georgetown store tipped off police after noticing the name registered to a credit card did not match the identification Chen provided when he purchased $700 worth of gift cards, the document said.

Police said they were able to track Chen down at a nearby Starbucks. He was using the store as a hideout after seeing officers close in on him in the parking lot, court documents show.

The Target employee told officers that Chen had used multiple stolen credit cards to purchase several thousand dollars worth of gift cards and iPads the day before at a store in Temple, and may have been involved in a similar incident in Round Rock, the affidavit said. An internal memo sent to area stores alerted workers to be on the lookout for similar activity, the employee added.

After detaining Chen, authorities were called to a nearby Firehouse Subs where a worker said Chen and another man discarded several credit cards in the store’s bathroom. More credit cards, merchandise, gift cards and cash were found in Chen’s rental car, police said.

Chen also has an outstanding arrest warrant for fraudulent use or possession of identifying information in Arkansas.

The department’s ongoing investigation has turned up more victims and additional charges are pending. He is currently being held on $40,000 bond.

In a statement released Wednesday night, police said there is no indication where Chen obtained the fraudulent card information. Authorities do not believe he was responsible for the initiation of the data breach.

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