Police are looking for these two women who used the stolen credit cards of another woman to rack up more than $8,500 in gift cards in eight minutes in Rockville, Maryland. The women casually went into a Target store and allegedly spent thousands before strolling out of the store. However, this time the police say that they have very good pictures of the culprits.
The victim was at dinner with her husband when she received a text alerting her to a big purchase. Then a few seconds later she got another one. It was only then that she discovered that her wallet was missing. Police say that the two women charged $4,000 to a Visa card, $4,000 to an American Express card and $530.05 to a MasterCard.
The speed and amount of the crime would indicate experienced thieves who do this as a regular job. However, it is fascinating that it appears to be the victim not the store that alerted police. Stores like Target must realize that anyone buying thousands of dollars of goods in less than ten minutes is likely to be an identity thief. Yet, there appears to be a lack of incentive for stores like Target to take action. After all, it is the credit card companies and holder, not the store, on the hook for the purchase. Indeed, Target just moved thousands of dollars of products. My guess is that, in the short time between the wallet theft and the purchase, the women had no time to create fake ids to match the cards. If they did, they would not likely stand up to close examination. The question is whether Target took any action to confirm the identification when faced with such a suspicious series of fast transactions. Identity thieves are also being helped out by stores moving to automated self-check out lines. I do not know what actions Target took in this case, but Congress would do customers a service by looking into the incentives and disincentives of major stores in identifying identity thieves.