SCSO investigator shares fraud, theft trends

Published 4:01 pm Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Andrew Stanley discusses three types of fraud and theft with members of the Greater Shelby Chamber. (Reporter photo / Neal Wagner)

Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Andrew Stanley discusses three types of fraud and theft with members of the Greater Shelby Chamber. (Reporter photo / Neal Wagner)

By JESSA PEASE / Staff Writer

PELHAM— When Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Andrew Stanley addressed the members of the Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce Feb. 24, he discussed three types of theft and fraud he’s dealt with in the county.

“When I was approached about doing this, I wanted to pick things that would touch a little bit of all the business community,” Stanley said.

The most frequent types of fraud and theft trends are cloned credit card fraud, organized retail crime and vehicle theft by deception.

Stanley said there have been several hundred cases of card fraud in Shelby County, especially with cloned cards. Instead of taking someone’s credit card and ordering something online, criminals are making their own card with someone’s information.

“Used to be we would see it and they went on and they are buying something with your card, but it’s not like that anymore,” Stanley said.

Skimming, online piracy and retail hacking are the ways people can access credit card information, according to Stanley.

Skimming involves a magnetic card reader writer encoder that can be used at ATMs, gas pumps, drive thrus and by restaurant servers, according to Stanley.

Online piracy involves hacking where an individual enters into the files of an online company and steals cards, and retail hacking is when a person remotely gains access to the customers who have recently visited an establishment.

Once someone has taken the credit card information, they can either form their own enterprise or sell the information online. A “leader” in the enterprise will then send other people out with dozens of cards to purchase as many gift cards as possible.

He advised chamber members that these individuals will always be in a rental car, usually be a team of one male and one female, always buy gift cards for as much money as they can load on them and always display multiple credit cards when completing the transaction.

Stanley described organized retail theft as advanced shoplifting where all members of the party have a specific job to perform. Usually the members are not local people.

Items stolen range from toiletries to clothes to electronics, and Stanley said they are usually either resold or returned for cash or gift cards. Many times the criminals will use the “push out” method, where they fill a cart and just walk out.

Stanley said to look for people who enter together and immediately split up, a member who is more interested in surroundings than shopping and excessive questions by a single member of the group.

“We are having issues with vehicle theft by deception,” Stanley said. “It’s a big deal because a lot of times the victim, who loses their car, is left holding the bill. It’s unfortunate.”

This is done through fraudulent payoff of a car. The criminals use real account information that cannot be drawn from to purchase a car from a victim. When the victim calls the bank to verify, the bank sees sufficient funds in the account.

The next day, the victim is notified that the account cannot be drawn from and is left with the bill and their car is gone. Stanley said very few of the cars are recovered.

Of the 15 cases Stanley is aware of, he said only two of the cars have been located because criminals are able to swap out vin numbers.

“The one thing that we don’t want to see as a law enforcement agency is a victim getting left footing the bill when they didn’t do anything wrong,” he said.