Eight Thomas Co. residents victimized by identity theft - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Eight Thomas Co. residents victimized by identity theft

By Christian Jennings - bio | email

November 10, 2008

THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) - Charges have been made everywhere from Maryland to Florida. Some cards were even used for online pornography subscriptions, and investigators say it could happen to you.

We use them everyday, and virtually everywhere, Shopping, eating, and paying with plastic.

"In the last week though we've had five instances with credit or debit cards that have been compromised," says Lt. Tim Watkins of the Thomas Co. Sheriff's Office.

 Eight people are now victims in a rash of identity fraud cases in Thomas county. But they didn't fall for some sort of scam. Investigators think the card numbers were copied at local businesses.

"This guy's actually purchasing a laptop computer using a victim's cloned debit card," Watkins.

That $700 purchase and even pornography subscriptions are a few of the things victims unexpectedly found on their bank statements. And this suspect made a hefty Wal-Mart purchase in Florida, with a Thomas co. woman's card.

But how? "Easiest way to explain it is if you go to a restaurant and purchase a meal and you do it with your debit or credit card, you'll give that card to the waiter or waitress," says Watkins.

All it takes is one swipe and in seconds someone can take the information stored in the magnetic strip, and produce a clone. It's done using a device called a ‘skimmer.'  They're small,and cheap. "Be aware," says Lt. Tim Watkins. "Scrutinize your statements and make sure all the charges on there are legit."

And if you find a charge that isn't, report it. You just might be another victim of identity theft.

Investigators think someone is locally making copies of the cards, and possibly selling them online.

Right now they are gathering victim's bank statements to see if any connections can be made.

If you experience similar charges, contact the Thomas Co. Sheriff's office.


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