For Immediate Release
December 22th, 2003
Contact: Mark Macaulay
Media Relations Director
(714) 347-8405


SANTA ANA – Hossein Joudi Haghighi, 40, of Irvine was sentenced last Friday to fourteen [14] years in state prison for stealing credit card information from patrons of two Chevron stations in Mission Viejo and San Juan Capistrano.  Haghighi was convicted on April 9, 2003, on 51 felony counts of grand theft, identity theft, unlawful possession of credit card information, and possession of counterfeit California Driver’s Licenses and counterfeit social security cards.  Haghighi and his co-worker Paul Faraji, 43, used the information obtained from unsuspecting customers to make hundreds of unauthorized purchases throughout Orange County.  As part of his sentence, Haghighi was also ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution to Citibank and $5,000 to the state restitution fund.  This conviction was the result of an extensive investigation by Irvine Police investigators into a series of identity theft and credit card fraud incidents in South County that were eventually tied to these two individuals.

At the residence of Haghighi and Faraji on Eastshore Drive in Irvine, police found a credit card skimmer, numerous blank credit cards, identification cards, false social security cards, and numerous items of counterfeit identification.  A credit card skimmer is an electronic device that reads and captures the account and identity data contained in the magnetic strip of a credit card.  The information obtained can be downloaded on to a blank credit card and the blank card can then be used in the same manner as the legitimate credit card.  Also found at the residence was a laptop computer, printers, a scanner, a laminating machine commonly used for making fake IDs, and a copier.

At an off-site storage unit, police found over 230 blank credit cards neatly packaged together.  Each of these blank cards had been encoded with account and identity information from legitimate credit card accounts belonging to other people.  Many of the cards had handwritten notations with further information to facilitate their fraudulent use.

“My office is currently seeking federal funding to continue combating identity theft,” stated Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.
“These pirates steal more than just a victims money, they steal the victims good credit and peace of mind.  This sentence is a step towards rebuilding consumer confidence and deterring identity related crime.”

Faraji was also charged in the case and currently is a fugitive.