Police: Credit card thieves targeting Marysville
Marysville police say credit card thieves have zeroed in on the community, racking up thousands of dollars in purchases with stolen credit cards or debit card numbers.
Detective Don McGlenn said he's never seen anything like it in his 14 years on the force.
"For some reason, our town has been victimized over and over again in the last two weeks," he said.
The department typically sees one or two reports of stolen credit card numbers a month. Now, McGlenn said, police are receiving anywhere from 10 to 20 reports a day.
One financial institution reported 18 to 25 victims just Monday, Feb. 25, he said.
Both the victims and the banks issuing the cards appear to be randomly chosen, he said.
The stolen cards are being used all over the country in places such as New York, Michigan, Maryland and Louisiana.
But the stolen numbers aren't restricted to use in the United States: One was used to make an $11,000 purchase at a jewelry store in Dubai, McGlenn said.
"One bank had close to $120,000 in attempts and somewhere around $48,000 to $50,000 of actual approved transactions," he said.
There are so many different cards in so many different locations that local police are finding it difficult to follow up on each individual report.
"Nobody's been able to tell us where the compromise has taken place," McGlenn said.
Marysville resident Amy Boerger said she received a warning call from her bank.
"He said, 'Are you in Michigan using your debit card right now?'" Boerger said, "and I'm like, 'No, I'm not.'"
She said her bank told her someone had hacked into her account and gone shopping.
"Within 45 minutes, they used $700," she said.
Boerger said she works two jobs and the lost money meant a lot to her: "That was rent to me."
Trisha Dearwester said she went through the same ordeal with her bank.
She said criminals tried to steal $250 from her before her bank stepped in.
"I'm responsible for my mortgage, responsible for my bills, I need to make sure I have money for food from my kids,"Dearwester said. "It is frightening, because I rely on my bank account to be where I expect it to be so that my bills are paid."
To top it off, she said her son, Dylan, also became a victim less than a week later.
"I felt like (it was) a violation of my privacy because it's my credit card," Dylan Dearwester said.
Marysville police said they believe the thefts are being accomplished by either a skimmer or a network intrusion.
"With a skimmer, they actually have your card and they put it in a device, which copies down all that information off that card," McGlenn said. "The longer this goes on and the more cards we get, the more it leads me to believe it's a network intrusion where they've gotten in via the Internet."
He said one thing that makes the investigation difficult is that some people may just fill out the fraud paperwork with their bank and get their money replaced. The local police department is the last to be notified -- or doesn't get notified at all.
"We don't know how many victims there truly are," McGlenn said.
In a five-day stretch between Feb. 21 and 26, residents of Village Drive, Buerger Street, Hinton Mill Road, West Fifth Street and Park Meadow Drive told police they found unauthorized charges on their debit or credit card accounts.
Another Park Meadow Drive resident said her credit card had been stolen and used at several local businesses, and a Taylor Avenue resident reported her credit card information was used in another state to make unauthorized purchases.
A West Mansfield man told Marysville police he found unauthorized charges on his account after he used his credit card at an area business.
The Union County Sheriff's Office reported a credit card that had been stolen from a home in the 34000 block of Cobb Harriman Road was used to make about $900 worth of purchases in Marion.
The crime is so widespread and continuous, it's difficult to put a dollar figure on how much has actually been stolen overall, McGlenn said.
"I've been in contact with the Secret Service and I believe they're going to get on board to help us with this case," he said.
McGlenn said police in Spring Valley, N.Y., arrested a man caught using the card numbers of a Marysville resident and found seven credit cards on him. They all had his name on them but the numbers belonged to accounts of people in central Ohio, including residents of Dublin and Hilliard.
That man is out on bond, but McGlenn said he believes he is not the head of the credit card theft ring.
He advises people who think they may be at risk to go to their banks and have their cards replaced.
He also suggested people monitor their credit cards and bank statements on a daily basis so at the first sign of trouble, they can contact their banks.
"If you're going to make Internet purchases, it's not a bad idea to get a credit card just for online purchases and keep the limit as low as possible," he said.
"The problem with some of our residents right now is it's their debit cards that are getting hit," he added. "One guy went to Kroger to get his groceries and when he got to the line, there was no money in his account."
WBNS10-TV News contributed to this story.