Friday, July 15, 2011

Credit Card Thieves Hit High Desert Hard

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It keeps getting worse each day and detectives are working tirelessly each night, trying to find common links among hundreds of credit or debit card thefts sweeping across the High Desert.
"We are still taking several cases each day," Deschutes County sheriff's Lt. Kevin Dizney said Thursday. "It seems to be stemming in the Central Oregon area, for the time being."
Bend police detectives are reaching out to other agencies to find out if it's happening around the state. After contacting other agencies, officials said it seems whoever is racking up fake charges is focusing on Central Oregon credit card holders.
In the past week, more than 200 people have reported they were hit by credit card theft.
"The detectives have made an outreach to the FBI and they're trying to identify what other sources might be available to them, to get to the bottom of this," Dizney said.
After contacting other agencies around the state, and it appears no other area is being hit quite as hard. The attorney general's office believes federal help may be the best option.
"They have offices across the county and they have the resources and expertise to try and trace what sounds like an organized effort," said Tony Green with the Oregon Department of Justice.
The county and city have been working together to find similar patterns between the charges. So far, the only thing in common is that they are being used around the country and beyond.
"The cards are being used in Canada, Texas, Mexico and the East Coast," Dizney said. "Virtually all over."
Although charges are piling up across the county, Dizney says most of them are routine charges. They are small enough amounts to stay under the radar until the bank or credit card company calls the victim.
With technology used to bank more frequently, experts say it opens up doors of opportunity.
"Their credit card numbers are being put in emails and online," said Green. "There's a lot more ways for credit card thieves to steal them."
While the calls continue to pour in, the sheriffs department is waiting for the right one.
"At this time, we are just taking as many of those calls as we can," said Dizney. "To hopefully get the case that will maybe break it wide open for all of us, to identify what's happening and how."
Dizney said anyone who has been affected, should contact authorities and have at least two months of statement information in hand. Tracing the charges may help them find similarities between the others, and ultimately the source.


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