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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Credit card scammers live the high life (Auckland, New Zealand)




A syndicate of scammers is buying a luxury lifestyle after obtaining the credit card details of genuine bank customers.
The gang has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars using card details of more than 100 people in Auckland and Hamilton.
Their purchases included spa pools and high-end furniture.
Detectives are unsure how they are getting the information - prompting a warning that every cardholder is a potential victim.
The fraudsters are understood to buy the goods online or over the phone and send gofers to collect them - often in vans rented with the fraudulently obtained details.
Because the transactions have been processed before the goods are picked up, the retailers hand over the goods without asking to see the card, leaving them liable for the debt.
Five officers from Auckland's fraud squad were assigned to the case on Monday.
Police are understood to believe the card details could have been obtained in a number of ways: discarded receipts, over the net or through people passing them on.
Inquiry head Detective Lynley Tubman would not be drawn on specifics but said the scam had been operating "for a while".
One National Bank Visa holder from Auckland was told of three fraudulent transactions on his card - $1000 at a furniture store, $97.70 at Pizza Hut and $83 at Hell's Pizza.
His bank told him it had cancelled the transactions and the card, and was helping police.
National Bank personal banking branch network general manager John Maurice refused to say how and where the card was compromised.
"The incident affects less than 10 National Bank credit card customers and may involve other banking organisations.
"As the matter is currently under police investigation we will not be commenting further at this time."
An Auckland furniture retailer, who banks with Westpac, believed he was another victim.
He said a man called his high-end store about six weeks ago and inquired about some expensive chairs he had seen on the website.
He said he needed them urgently and his wife would pop in and view them.
The man rang back to say his wife wouldn't have time to visit but bought them over the phone. "He gave an address and credit card details and the transaction went through," said the retailer, who asked not to be named.


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