The leader of an identity theft ring that stole credit card numbers from TJX has been sentenced to five years in prison and fined $600,000 (£300,000).

Irving Escobar pleaded guilty to charges of an "organised scheme to defraud" in March and was sentenced this week in Florida.

Escobar and his team used stolen data to make counterfeit credit cards, which they used to buy gift cards at Wal-Mart and Sam's Club. They redeemed the gift cards for jewellery and electronic equipment in what McCollum calls "a modern-day version of money laundering" that resulted in a loss of £1.5m to TJX.

TJX, the parent company of TK Maxx and other store brands, reported that 45.6 million credit and debit card numbers were stolen in a 2005 data breach, and another 130,000 were stolen in December 2006.
Escobar was tied to the December 2006 data breach, the Florida attorney general's office said.

Five co-defendants, including his mother, pleaded guilty to similar charges involving organised fraud and grand theft.

Co-defendants Dianelly Hernadez, Julio Alberti, Reinier Alvarez and Zenia Llorente were sentenced to probation last month. Escobar's mother, Nair Alvarez, was deported to Venezuela.

TJX "believes it may never be possible to determine the exact number of individuals whose personal information was stolen," officials said.

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