Debit, credit card thefts investigated

  • Follow Metro

ATHENS, Ga. --- A wave of credit card and debit card thefts is swamping Athens area police as thieves tap into a data stream somewhere in cyberspace to capture strings of digital information that they can turn into hard cash.

Athens-Clarke police have heard complaints about the thefts for months.

But now more and more bank customers are walking into law enforcement offices in Oglethorpe, Madison and other outlying counties to complain about bogus charges on their debit and credit cards.

Madison County investigators are working with police in Athens-Clarke County, where Detective Beverly Russell has been investigating a series of similar thefts for months.

Both agencies have also sought help from the U.S. Secret Service, Detective Russell said.

In recent thefts in Madison County, only debit card customers were targeted, but elsewhere thieves also are using credit card numbers, Ms. Russell said.

The thefts appear to be part of a larger, nationwide crime spree, Detective Russell said.

Bank customers' credit and debit card numbers probably weren't stolen here; thieves could be working almost anywhere in the world, she said, likely higher up in one of the enormous electronic systems that process credit card charges and bank withdrawals.

Because the fraud seems to begin at a high level in the credit and debit card system, bank customers can do little to protect their information, other than stop using credit and debit cards.

But customers can minimize losses by keeping a close eye on their transactions, Detective Russell said.

If a customer can catch the first one or two false charges quickly and report them to the bank, then he can prevent more thefts, she said.

Investigators in Richmond County say they have yet to see this type of crime here, but that it's only a matter of time before it hits.

"Whatever happens up there will trickle down here before long," Sgt. Randy Hayes said.

Staff Writer Adam Folk contributed to this report.

Comments (4) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
HTN007
19
Points
HTN007 01/05/08 - 06:08 am
0
0
It, or something similar,may

It, or something similar,may have already "trickled down". On Christmas day there were around 50 small withdrawals for around 30.00 each on one of my ATM cards which was in my pocket(not lost) all the time. And when the bank checked the location of the ATM machine where all this happened they found out it was located in Bangkok, Thailand! Fortunately all 3000 + dollars were credited back to my account. It appears these thieves who are tapping into this datastream are getting ATM card numbers and then creating there own PINs. Then they go to an ATM machine and start withdrawing cash. In my case they first tried to use the information at ATM machines here in the US where security system prevented withdrawals. When that didn't work, they went to Thailand. Most interesting in all of this was their doing it all on Christmas day when they knew the bank would be closed. When I called the bank on Christmas they were unable to deactivate my card until the 26th and another 1000 had been stolen by then.

EvansResident
0
Points
EvansResident 01/05/08 - 09:24 am
0
0
Its here too... my wife had

Its here too... my wife had 18 fraudulent charges posted to her account over the last 2 months.

HTN007
19
Points
HTN007 01/05/08 - 04:03 pm
0
0
And the most amazing thing to

And the most amazing thing to me is that I never used that card over twice since getting it in 06. And the last time was last May in Myrtle Beach. So, just having it is a risk......that it exists is enough for this to happen. Pretty scary? And if this sort of thing continues on a wide enough scale, think of what it could do to the banking system! So, in view of this I reported it to the FBI. I just hope they will get involved.

Augusta resident
1368
Points
Augusta resident 01/11/08 - 07:39 am
0
0
Same thing happened to me and

Same thing happened to me and my wife 4 times. Wachovia has been great when it comes to this. They even caught it before we did twice. The only problem is they have to cancel your card and takes over a week to get a new one. I don't think it breaks the bank, every time a store swipes your card they have to pay a fee plus a percentage of the purchase. That's why visa makes those commercials that make people look bad when they pay by cash or check.

Back to Top

Top headlines

Kettle donations rise in 2014

After a disappointing showing last year, donations to the Salvation Army's local Red Kettle Campaign have risen nearly 20 percent in 2014.
Search Augusta jobs