Perhaps the most common property crime against individual citizens is fraud hallmarked by the unauthorized use of a credit card.
Credit card companies are fielding perhaps hundreds of calls from of Baton Rouge residents, who have noticed unauthorized charges to their credit cards. Police warned of the most common modus operandi — hackers who breach the point-of-sale terminal at a local business and then use the information to effect purchases in other states. One police investigator added that these perpetrators delay a period of time from when the card information is compromised to when it is put into circulation. This time gap usually frustrates investigators who are working to pinpoint where the breach came from.
To date many of the fraud transactions have been foiled by the banks notifying their customers before the charges are processed. However, many in Baton Rouge have not been so lucky and have reportedly been taken for amounts ranging from $500 to $1,000.
Not only are the cards being compromised by the hackers at points-of-sales, but less sophisticated methods are in operation. This can happen, warn police, when a citizen lets his or her card out of their site for even a period of minutes. The perpetrator can record with simple paper and pen the credit card information, or they can use an iPhone to take a picture of the card. Also in the mix: the perpetrator who uses a card “skimmer” that, incredibly, can be purchased right off the Internet.
Meanwhile, investigators are encouraging anyone who has had their card compromised to report the details to police, who say that the more information they have, the more likely it is that they can find a pattern of where the cards were used. Police are particularly asking the tipsters to include all locations where they recently used their cards. Furthermore, police advise citizens to monitor their accounts for any suspicious activity.
At the other end of the equation, of course, are the perpetrators, some of whom are young, computer-savvy folks who may think that manipulating the system is a matter of all being fair in love and war. When caught, however, their defense counsels will surely advise them of the serious felony nature of their trespasses and work hard to mitigate the alleged crimes — certainly including making restitution to all victims as a first step.
RedStickNow.com, “Rash of Credit Card Thefts Discovered in the Baton Rouge Area” No author given, Jul. 23, 2013