Police investigate reports of cloned debit cards in the Tri-Cities
TRI-CITIES, Wash. —
Swiping and using a credit or debit card usually only takes seconds, but that's just enough time to become a victim of fraud.
This week the Kennewick Police Department received several reports of fraud with what appear to be cloned debit cards.
“In other words, somebody created a plastic document or a plastic card and was able to take those in and use them at different locations throughout the Tri-Cities,” says KPD Crime Prevention Specialist Mike Blatman.
He says the clones appear to have the names, account numbers and PIN numbers of legitimate cards, even when the owner still has the real card in their possession.
He adds it's still unclear how the information was stolen, but says it could have been a data breach or more likely a card skimmer.
At least one suspect is described as a black man with a Jamaican accent and the second suspect is described as a Caucasian woman. Blatman says they also got more information that two more men could be involved.
Most of the activity took place last week, including large money orders and ATM transfers.
There have also been reports made in Richland, Pasco and West Richland.
Blatman says in cases like this victims usually find out days later: “That’s what they people are counting on. They’re figuring it’s going to take a couple of days for people to be able to determine what’s going on and by the time they do that, they’re gone. They’re here for 24, 48 hours and they move on to another city.”
To avoid becoming a potential victim, Blatman says people should check their financial accounts often and set up alerts for when a certain amount of cash is spent or taken out.
“Be diligent. That’s the most important thing. This is not a case where somebody was not protecting their PIN. It’s not like somebody is looking over their shoulder. It’s actually being used and that makes that much more difficult.”
If you think you’ve been a victim of one of these fraudulent crimes, contact law enforcement or Tri-Cities Crime Stoppers line (509) 586-TIPS (8477).