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Out-of-state criminals bring cloned credit card schemes to Minnesota

Criminals willing to travel thousands of miles are ensnaring hundreds of victims as they bring credit and debit card cloning schemes to Minnesota. It's evidence, police and cybersecurity consultants said, of the ongoing fallout from major retail ...

Criminals willing to travel thousands of miles are ensnaring hundreds of victims as they bring credit and debit card cloning schemes to Minnesota.
It’s evidence, police and cybersecurity consultants said, of the ongoing fallout from major retail data breaches.
Suburban police are alerting residents to a rise in such cases while businesses and law enforcement alike try to figure out why the area has seen so many unwelcome visitors lately - and how to stop them.
“They are kind of like ghosts. They’re in and they’re out,” said Eagan, Minn., Police detective Desiree Schroepfer.
Police in Eagan have been able to arrest at least four pairs of suspects since April, tracing the cards they carried to more than 300 victims, according to charges. Investigators linked the biggest single case, with 180 suspected victims, to Home Depot’s 2014 breach.
Though this summer’s warnings have come from the south metro, authorities said that the area isn’t alone. Many Minnesotans are beginning to notice - through bank statements or calls from police - that they are among the millions whose financial card information can be bought online with a username and about $20.
“Everyone has this,” said Mark Lanterman, chief technology officer at Computer Forensic Services in Minnetonka, Minn. “Either law enforcement doesn’t realize it or they’re just beginning to understand the severity.”
People using cloned cards often travel in pairs, flying in or driving rental cars and staying at hotels as they shuttle between cities, authorities said. Many go undetected because they use the duplicate cards near victims’ hometowns to avoid raising banks’ suspicions.
That’s what Detroit-area residents Marcus Hatch, 22, and Montel Roberts, 23, did - driving 10,600 miles in a rental car over six weeks before being caught at an Eagan hotel with more than 50 gift cards worth $4,775, all purchased with cloned cards. Both pleaded guilty in May to financial transaction card fraud and served 30 days in jail.
Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom, meanwhile, is seeking aggravated sentences for Sade Robinson, 21, of Eagan, and Emile Rey, 35, of Chicago, in connection to a monthslong scheme in which Rey allegedly flew to and from the Twin Cities using cloned cards with Robinson to buy gift cards at Target and Wal-Mart stores in Minneapolis, St. Paul and 13 suburban cities.
Lanterman, a former member of the Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force, said millions of stolen credit and debit card numbers can be searched by ZIP code and bought on the website rescator.cc. Buyers use that data to create a duplication card.
A search for most metro ZIP codes - and even farther afield in Owatonna, Minn. - turned up the maximum result of 1,650 card numbers per city. Lanterman suspects rescator.cc, a site believed to be run by a Ukrainian hacker, has even more. Code names let criminals know which data breach is responsible for a given group of cards, with as many as three dozen groups of cards tied to breaches as yet undiscovered.
Cards compromised during Target’s 2013 breach are still for sale, with a disclaimer that only a third still are valid.
“Right now the hackers are winning the battle,” said Apple Valley, Minn., Police Sgt. James Gummert, whose department noticed a 42 percent rise in fraud cases in the first six months of the year.
“What can we do?”

Related Topics: CRIME
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