GEORGETOWN, Texas (CBSNewYork/AP) — Police in a Texas town initially said a man arrested in December may be linked to the data breach that plagued Target stores nationwide, but authorities later reported that there was no apparent link.
Initially, police in Georgetown said Chen may have been involved in the use of stolen debit and credit card numbers in a data breach of more than $70 million.
But later Wednesday, a source familiar with the Secret Service investigation into the Target breach told CBS News the Chen incident “appears to be a street level arrest,” and is “not tied to the larger breach.”
Georgetown police also revised their report to the news media on Chen.
“While it was initially suspected that Guo Xing Chen’s activities could have somehow been connected to the larger Target credit breach, at this time there is no indication where he obtained the fraudulent card information. It is not believed he was responsible for the initiation of the breach at Target,” the police department said.
A criminal complaint alleged that Chen was arrested on Dec. 12 of last year, when staff at a Target store in Georgetown alleged that a man had used a stolen credit card to buy several gift cards. Chen had also allegedly used several stolen credit and debit cards to buy gift cards and iPads in Temple, Texas, just the day before, the complaint said.
Target had already issued a “be on the lookout” alert for gift card purchases with stolen credit cards before the Georgetown incident, the complaint sad.
Police arrested Chen at a nearby Starbucks, and learned that he and another man had abandoned the fraudulent credit and debit cards in the restroom of a sandwich shop, the complaint said.
Chen was initially arrested on an outstanding warrant out of Arkansas, and was charged with fraudulent use of identifying information, the complaint said.
Georgetown police earlier Wednesday said police and prosecutors later suspected that Chen was involved in a large-scale data breach in excess of $70 million following an investigation.
Officials have not indicated why they later decided Chen was not involved.
Target Corp. disclosed in December that about 40 million credit and debit cards may have been affected by the data breach that happened between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15, just as the holiday shopping season was shifting into high gear.
Target later said hackers stole personal information, including names, phone numbers as well as email and mailing addresses, from as many as 70 million customers as part of the breach.
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