POLICE: Recent debit card fraud in Fraser Valley originated locally
Less than two weeks ago an apparent wave of fraudulent debit card transactions began affecting numerous citizens across Grand County with community forums on Facebook awash with personal stories of illegal cash withdrawals. The rash of fraud sparked serious concern from local citizens and prompted an investigation from local law enforcement officials.
The Fraser-Winter Park Police Department issued a statement about the ongoing fraud investigation, which officials are calling a “data breach,” along with a set of tips debit card holders can implement to help prevent further incidents of fraud.
“Victims reported that they had purchased items at (local) businesses, only to have their debit cards cloned, and then used to withdraw funds from their accounts at ATMs on the Front Range,” the department stated.
To date, the department has identified over a dozen victims, most of whom had shopped at two different businesses, one in Winter Park and one in Fraser. Officials said they have evidence that the compromised cards were actually physically compromised in Grand County, but did not go into detail.
Representatives from the department said they believed there are likely more victims of the fraud who have not contacted local police and instead reported the fraud directly to their banking institutions. Officials noted that some banks were able to recognize the fraudulent activity immediately and freeze accounts. On average, victims of the fraud lost approximately $350 per person due to the illegal activity.
Police officials said they have determined one common denominator amongst all victims of the recent debit card fraud.
“In every single instance, the victim used a debit card and entered their PIN into the credit-card machine to complete the transaction,” department officials stated. “Given the volume of business generated by these two stores, coupled with the comparatively low number of fraud victims, the presence of a debit card skimmer at both these locations seems unlikely.”
Officials said store management has been contacted and are cooperating fully with the investigation. Police are also attempting to obtain photographs of the suspects who used the cloned cards.
According to data provided by Fraser-Winter Park police, debit card fraud losses in the United States were estimated at roughly $7 billion in 2017 alone while 46 percent of Americans have experienced some sort of credit card fraud in the last five years.
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