Londonderry Police are urging the public to be vigilant as incidents of credit card and bank account related fraud are on the rise.
The most frequent cases police are seeing involve the re-encoding of Visa Vanilla gift cards, using an unsuspecting victim’s information to supply the fraudulent gift cards with available funds, according to Det. Chris Olson.
The victim’s personal, credit card and bank account information is generally obtained through online hacks, telephone or email scams and ATM “skimming” devices, which are often placed over the card entry slot on ATM machines and are difficult to detect with the naked eye.
The skimming devices are equipped with technology to read credit card information off the magnetic strip on the card and transmit it to a computer instantly.
Olson said the technology is easy to purchase online.
In April, Londonderry Police arrested a Massachusetts man during a speeding stop after discovering he was in possession of multiple gift cards and a machine used to recode the gift cards with stolen credit card information.
Once a criminal has stolen credit information, he or she is able to manipulate the metallic information strip on gift cards with the stolen information using magnetic card encoding machines.
“The biggest reason gift cards are being used is because you do not have to show any identification and it is a generic card with no name on it. This makes it very difficult to identify and prosecute suspects, as well,” Olson said in a press release.
Last month, Police were investigating an incident where a man used stolen credit card information to purchase $5,000 worth of gift cards from the Hannaford Supermarket in Londonderry.
The suspect allegedly stole credit card information from a 56-year-old Methuen, Mass., woman online or with a card skimmer, then transferred the information onto a fake card he allegedly used to purchase the gift cards.
Police believe the suspect also used a fake Ohio driver’s license to complete the purchase on Aug. 19.
Olson said last week police are close to an arrest.
Residents are urged to pay close attention to their bank accounts, credit card activity and credit report. Any suspicious activity should be reported to both the financial institution and police.
For more information, visit online www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/credit-card-skimming-scam-1282.php.