Thursday, 30 May 2013

Local payment card fraud

Staff that deal with card payments are being warned after a number of attempts at using fraudulent credit cards have happened across the area this month.

The scams happened at supermarkets and other stores where two men tried to buy large amounts of store gifts vouchers. They attempted to use credit cards to make payment that had either been cloned (with someone else’s account details on the magnetic strip) or had been stolen.

Police are aware of several incidents where staff have wisely suspected the men and then refused to serve them. However there are likely to be many other offences where no one yet realises a crime has been committed. It may be some weeks before the genuine account holder receives their statement to find ‘they’ have bought hundreds of pounds of vouchers across the south!

If you work in a shop, or restaurant, or pretty much anywhere where card payments are taken and you offer gift vouchers, please be suspicious if someone attempts to buy hundreds of pounds worth.  Obviously not all transactions like this will be fraudulent, but do be cautious – how often would someone ordinarily buy such a large volume of vouchers from you? Are they buying a very generous wedding gift for someone, or simply using you to cash in the fraudulent cards and launder their ill-gotten gains?!

Please also avoid buying ‘second hand’ gift vouchers. Someone may come up to you and claim that they’ve been given a particular voucher as a present ‘but they never shop there’. To help them out, please would you buy this £50 voucher for, say, £40?!  If something’s too good to be true, it almost certainly is.

The banks and credit card companies are very good at keeping an eye on unusual transactions on accounts. They may well contact you if your card is suddenly maxed out by buying supermarket vouchers. However, please keep an eye on your transactions and report any suspicious activity or incorrect transactions to your bank as soon as you notice them. Likewise, if your card is unexpectedly rejected when you try to use it, please don’t just crack open another one without checking why first.

Remember, Hampshire really is a safe place to live and work. However, we can all do our bit to make it an even better place to be so if you have information about ANY crime, please do not hesitate to give Crimestoppers a call. 0800 555 111 or log on to www.crimestoppers-uk.org to give information online anonymously. For those of you Twittered up, please follow me on @HantsCrimestopp for regular updates.

PC Simon Wright

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