CUMBERLAND COUNTY, NC - The Cumberland County Sheriff's Office is working to track down four suspects responsible for a massive credit card cloning operation. A criminal investigation for an unrelated case turned up hundreds of cloned credit cards along with a magnetic card reader and computer.
Investigators said the crooks most likely got access to victims' personal information through the dark web where millions of credit card numbers along with personal information are sold, often following major data breaches.
"If you've ever had your credit report on Experian, your information's out there. It's just a matter of time before they get to you. We're talking about 150 million people. So the chances of your credit card information getting to them? It's kind of like flipping a coin, they may get to it, they may not," said Detective Burton Hyde.
From there, the suspects were loading it on a laptop and burning it to credit cards and gift cards using a magnetic strip reader. The device is similar to the one used by hotels to program room keys. It works just like burning a CD.
If you're wondering where the crooks are getting the cards, just check your mail. Those "valued customer" promotions are what criminals in this fraud ring were using.
"These credit cards that you get in the mail can be used as legitimate credit cards. They can be scanned right away. I recommend that you shred them right away. In this case. Once they used the credit card information that they used to victimize people they shredded the information to get rid of the evidence," said Detective Burton Hyde.
Credit card fraud is a widespread issue across the country but investigators are seeing an uptick here in Cumberland County.
Right now, the Sheriff's Office is trying to identify two women seen on surveillance video using a cloned credit card at the Dollar General in Stedman just days apart.
While investigators are trying to determine whether the two are related, they're asking residents to check their bank and credit reports to ensure they aren't victims.
If you see fraudulent activity, report it to your bank first, then contact your local law enforcement agency.