AUSTIN, Texas (WRIC) — A Texas man was sentenced to five years in prison and a further three years of paroled release for his involvement in a scheme to buy 38,000 compromised PayPal account credentials from an illegal online marketplace, and then use those credentials to steal money from the rightful PayPal account owners, according to the United States Department of Justice.
Marcos Ponce, 37, of Austin, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in October 2021 and was convicted on Wednesday, May 11.
According to court documents, from as early as November 2015 and continuing until at least November 2018, Ponce and his co-conspirators used PayPal account login credentials from an online black market and developed social engineering techniques in order to trick unwitting third parties into accepting money transfers from the compromised PayPal accounts.
The amount of money stolen has not been disclosed, however, Ponce — in addition to his incarceration — was ordered by the Texas Western District Court to pay $1.4 million in restitution.
“Today’s sentencing sends a message that the FBI will pursue cybercriminals across the globe. Hiding behind a computer does not mean you can stay anonymous or out of reach of law enforcement,” said Assistant Director in Charge Steven M. D’Antuono of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “With the assistance of FBI cyber task forces across the country, the FBI will diligently and aggressively work to identify and locate criminals, regardless of where they operate.”
The case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, with significant assistance from the FBI San Antonio – Austin Cyber Task Force.
“The Justice Department remains firmly committed to protecting the American people from fraudsters like this defendant,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “May today’s sentencing send a clear message to would-be thieves: there are real-world consequences for online crimes.”