Gift card fraud increasing in Horry County; three arrested

Gift card fraud increasing in Horry County; three arrested
Chistopher Miller incident report
Chistopher Miller incident report
Lascotia Trim incident report
Lascotia Trim incident report

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - As great as technology can be, it can also be a problem, as it helps scammers get your money easier than ever.  One local fraud victim is ready to get to the bottom of how scammers can steal credit card numbers without physically having the card.

The victim doesn't want to be identified because he isn't sure how much information the person who stole his credit card number has.  On Monday, four charges from stores at Tanger Outlets appeared on his bank statement.  However, the victim hadn't shopped there.  He and his wife met Horry County Police at the Tanger Outlets to report the incident and search store video.  The victim and police were able to find video of the suspects who used gift cards with the stolen credit card number on them.

Employees at the stores recognized the suspects, saying they're frequent shoppers.  The suspects successfully used the stolen credit card number via the gift cards at two stores, but were turned down at the third.

There are many ways scammers can take credit card numbers without stealing your card.  Some of the most common are through online hacks, phishing, skimmers at gas station swipes and the newest, a scanner.  Horry County Police say crooks will take a scanner into stores, pick-up a handful of gift cards and scan them.  The gift cards will be put back and the thieves will wait until they're activated to start spending before you do.  This is why many stores now package their gift cards or cards have the numbers covered until you buy them.

The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs says to watch out for RFID cards.  They're similar to ID employee badges in that they can scan a magnetic strip without touching it.

The many ways skimmers can steal your money nowadays are frightening. Horry County Police say one way you can help yourself is to use credit cards with the microchip.  The microchip takes a few seconds longer to process at checkout, but could end up saving you thousands of dollars.  The microchip transmits a different pin number each time it's used and is much more difficult for skimmers to steal. Police also say if you're a store owner or employee, be sure to check IDs and to be alert.  When a customer pays with multiple gift cards, something may be off.

Three people were caught in Carolina Forest on April 14 with hundreds of fake gift cards. Jazzmin Allison, 27, 25-year-old Christopher Miller and 27-year-old Lascotia Trim were arrested for financial transaction card theft and possession of marijuana.  This is one of three incidents this month, and Horry County Police are suspicious of a 'fraud ring' happening in Horry County.  Horry County Police have reached out to SLED for technical assistance, and the Secret Service is in the process of potentially providing aid to break up the crime ring.

Police say credit card fraud often happens online in the Dark Web or through the black market.  People will sell stolen credit card numbers to another.

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