Gift cards from various retailers are seen on display. (credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A fraudulent credit card arrest and subsequent guilty plea of a Garland man points to a huge and blossoming problem in North Texas and this one could be hitting your pocketbook without you knowing it.

Dalton Abrams pled guilty to ‘conspiracy to effect transactions with access devices issued to other persons‘ — or credit card fraud. The 56-year-old man was part of a gang that learned how to randomly find credit card numbers, and then manufacture fake credit cards.

“They were able to get credit card numbers that didn’t belong to them and take blank credit cards and put the numbers on them, they had equipment to do that… with the strips on the back that were magnetized but not encoded with that credit card information,” explained Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Tortorice.

Tortorice said when the thief swiped the card it wouldn’t work, and then routinely the clerk would ask to see the card.

“They’d scan it few times, and probably rub it on a plastic bag or whatever they do, and it still wouldn’t work. So they’d finally give up and just key in the numbers, which were printed on the front of the card,” Tortorice said of the scam. “And they’d [the thieves] walk out with their gift card and turn around and sell it for cash.”

Often it would be weeks before victims would receive their charge card bill and sometimes months before they realized the fraudulent small charges weren’t theirs.

“It’s genius, in a lot of ways, is its simplicity,” Tortorice said of the scam. “It’s difficult to track, because as soon as that gift card walks out of the store, and let’s say they buy a $100 gift card and sell it to somebody else for $50, it’s over. They walk away. They have cash in their hand.”

In court, prosecutors said from December of 2009 until December of 2010 Abrams bought gift cards and other merchandise from a number of retailers.

A sentencing date for the Garland man hasn’t been set, but he faces up to five years in federal prison.

The crimes may have been easier to miss during the gift giving season. Experts urge that during this time of year, when couples buy each other gifts, its important to go over credit card statements and figure out every charge.