Credit Card Fraud: How It’s Done

Someone, somewhere made an extra swipe of your credit card. It could be a waiter or a store clerk or anyone you’ve handed your credit card to for payment.

Instead of just charging your card, the thief made an extra swipe of your credit card into a small hand-held device known a skimmer. Think of a skimmer as a net. It takes information right off the card itself.

The skimmer pulls the data from your card, giving the thief all the information needed to make a counterfeit card. A skimmer can hold card data from hundreds of different credit cards. Once this information has been downloaded into a skimmer it can be downloaded into a computer and e-mailed anywhere in the world. Credit card skimming has become a worldwide problem. Card losses due to skimming exceed $1 billion a year. Skimming and counterfeit credit card scams are widespread in Europe, Asia and Latin America. They are a growing problem in the United States.

A Far East factory will do as many as 5,000 cards a night, and the next day those cards are in a suitcase on the way to Europe. Smaller scale skimming operations are common as well. Consider the scam ring in Florida, in which seven (7) people were indicted in April. Two waitresses skimmed a large number of credit cards from an Orlando restaurant. The waitresses then sold the credit card data to a middleman who sold the information to a group making counterfeit credit cards in Miami.