If the idea behind a scam is to avoid getting caught, subtlety would be a likely component in the operation. Not for this pair of credit card fraudsters in Virginia: One guy tried eight credit cards while checking out at a local Walmart — they were all rejected — until the ninth one worked. A second suspect swiped four duds before the cashier accepted his fifth card.
The cards that cleared were stolen. Actually, all of the cards were fake, but the two winners hadn’t yet been canceled. The pair allegedly went on to use the cards at a GameStop in the same shopping center as the Walmart.
Once the cardholders discovered the fraudulent transactions, it probably wasn’t too difficult to trace them back to the men with their stacks of cards, swiping till something worked. It’s not exactly common practice to nonchalantly shuffle through half-dozen rejected credit cards in the checkout line.
The thieves never nabbed the physical cards from their rightful owners; they programmed stolen credit card data onto fake cards, which is a common manifestation of credit card fraud. Hackers sell credit card data in the black market online (that’s what happened to some of the card numbers stolen during the Target breach), which other criminals can use to make online purchases or to manufacture their own cards. For the fraudsters, the key to success is making purchases before the cardholder or their issuer notices the transactions, because the spree stops there.
Police have security footage of the suspects, who have yet to be identified. Given the careless execution of their heist, it wouldn’t be surprising if they were quickly caught.
As for the victims, they shouldn’t be liable for the purchases. There’s not a lot consumers can do to prevent fraud, though it helps to use strong passwords, avoid unsecured Internet and never save financial information in Web browsers. Still, breaches happen, so the best way to protect yourself from fraud is to regularly check your accounts for unauthorized transactions. If you’re worried about identity theft, you may also want to monitor your credit scores. You can see two of your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com.
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