Sheriff’s Office warns of card cracking scheme in Augusta area

Sheriff’s Office warns of card cracking scheme in Augusta area
(Source: Lex Juarez)

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - A card cracking scheme is plaguing young people in the area, according to the Richmond County Sheriffs Office. Their investigators are seeing multiple cases every week. We sat down with one investigator who explained what’s going on and the impact it can have on victims.

The scam has started on the street, in the mall or most commonly, on social media. But it’s not the initial interaction with the scammer that’s causing people trouble; it’s what happens after.

”Recently, we’ve been seeing an epidemic.” Financial Crimes Investigator Kevin Link says they’re seeing 10 cases a week, all with a similar story and target. “Generally the targets are young people, like teenagers who’ve recently opened a bank account.” Impressionable minds who, like anyone, would love to make some quick cash.

“They usually, they’ll talk up a big game, a big story and make it sound legit. They say, ‘Yo, we’re going to deposit some money into your account, and you can keep some of that money,’ and that’s usually how it works, and they talk these young people into giving them their bank account information,” says Inv. Link.

Once the criminal gets the account information or debit card, they come to an ATM, cover their faces from the cameras, and deposit fake checks. After the money goes through, they withdraw from the account and the card holder is left having to pay.

“If they find out that the person has willingly given their account information to someone else, then they’ll generally hold them liable for the overdrawn funds.” Having to pay the stolen money back could be the least of their worries," says Inv. Link. “The targets could be charged as a co-conspirator in the case, because they are actually facilitating the crime itself, and we are actually looking into possibly charging these people with the same crime as the fraudster.”

Right now, these victims could be the only people charged. Inv. Link says finding the scammers is one of the biggest challenges, as they don’t give real information to the victims. Moving forward, the sheriff’s office says there are some things you can do to make sure you don’t fall victim.

  • Monitor you and your kids accounts.
  • Report ads you see on social media.
  • Never write your PIN number on your debit card.
  • Never give your account or card information to other people.

And Inv. Link has one last piece of advice. “If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.” He says since 2013, scams of this nature have cost over $6 million nationwide.

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