Maryland Police Search For Two Women Accused Of Stealing $8,500 in Eight Minutes In Identity Theft

CreditCardFraudSuspects-781fd07cPolice 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.

150px-Target_logo.svgThe 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.

24 thoughts on “Maryland Police Search For Two Women Accused Of Stealing $8,500 in Eight Minutes In Identity Theft”

  1. I can see why the stores don’t want to get involved. You could also be pissing off a legitimate customer that has a lot of money.

  2. Nick, in my state at PI license also *is* a PI agency license. The seven year requirement isn’t absolute – it’s actually a hours requirement – so if you can find a PI willing to pay you overtime regularly… In any case, most of the PIs I’ve met pay barely better than fast food – and the work I’ve been offered is some of the most dull and mindless I can imagine. The first couple times I performed a long term surveillance I thought it was pretty cool; after that all I could think about was how great it would be to be the guy handing out those assignments (and it was, except I always felt guilty for boring my people to death).

    At this point my new career is taking off well. I’m coding useful tools, and working with technologies that will make me valuable in the eyes of future employees. I can work from home whenever I want, take essentially unlimited paid time off, and have an endless supply of the best coffees I’ve ever tasted. I’ve got time to help raise my nieces – I’m the guns, science, and liberty member of the family – so our time together is always fun. I do sorely miss interviewing/interrogating and the process of investigating certain types of crimes; and especially teaching those things to the kids under me. Overall however, I think I’m in the right place. Maybe at some point I can find a use for all these skills I built up, but who knows…

    Thanks for your offer of help!

    (I’ll comment on Target and the Barbie soon btw, did’t want you to think I was ignoring…)

  3. daveryack, Licensing requirements are some of the worst bureaucratic hoops. And, states put the most incompetent political appointees as the head, I can only speak of Wi., but in speaking w/ PI’s in other states, it’s pretty similar in many. I had a guy I knew and respected who was in a similar situation as you. He was tired of govt. work and wanted to do some work on his own. Many states require, if you want to be in biz as a PI, both a PI agency and individual PI license. The agency license has insurance requirements. I had employees who worked for me as PI’s as employees. But, I allowed this guy to be an employee to get the experience to qualify for an agency license. I’m thinking the 7 year requirement may be for the more stringent agency license? If your state requires 7 years experience for even an individual PI license, then I would inquire if they will include any post high school education as experience. My state does. If you want help I will be happy to do what I can to help you through the govt. horseshit.

  4. I was encouraged by many to find an attorney, but I’m not especially well disposed toward lawsuits. Anyway, now I’m part of the tech world, which is once again experiencing a golden age that will never end. (haha) More likely I’ll write about book about the somewhat hidden, and very strange, world of loss prevention – if nothing else my outlook on, and experience with use-of-force situations ought to be entertaining.

    Funny thing – the reason I can’t start my own business is that I’d need a PI license, and in order to get one in this state, I need 7 years experience under one. Despite having performed some very complex investigations; some involving the Secret Sevice, FBI, DEA, never mind dozens of local, county, and state agencies – despite being an expert in interrogation – I’m not allowed to even sit for the exam without those 7 years.

    As for who needs help – believe me it’s not just retail. I’ve learned that restaurants could use some help as well. Especially where I live and work, the State sides with workers almost always. A small business owner without any idea how to safely and effectively deal with employee theft is practically begging for a lawsuit (or for the theft to continue). And considering the margins many of these businesses operate with, theft can become the final straw.

  5. And, this libertarian TOTALLY sympathizes w/ you regarding onerous regulations by govt.! That said, I have to believe there is a good market for a consulting biz w/ your expertise. Trooperyork who gave you kudos up thread here, is in the clothing retail business and has had problems w/ theft. Is there ANY retail biz that doesn’t?

  6. daveryack, You are obviously intelligent. I am not an attorney, I’m a PI that has worked civil litigation, including employment litigation. I would humbly suggest you reach out to a good employment attorney. The mistake many people make in hiring an attorney is they get a general practice attorney when they need a specialist. For employment law, you need an attorney that does that work exclusively, or almost exclusively.

  7. Nick, I was forced out of my last position after defending myself from a member of an Organized Retail Crime group who caught me photographing him and attacked me. They claimed I wasn’t allowed to photograph him. Hilariously a week after I was gone, my former agents told me the written policy was updated to say photographing suspects wasn’t allowed… How I was supposed to follow a policy that didn’t exist during my employment, I’ll never know.

    Painfully I ended up leaving my career entirely. I work in technology now, which if I’m honest, was my first love anyway – and where I should have gone from day one. I looked into doing consulting for small businesses, but my state has such onerous regulations it proved impossible for me.

  8. Requiring a PIN as debit cards do would nearly eliminate incidences such as this.

  9. Wait a minute dryack. I just reread the “until recently.” Hope you’re employed somewhere. You’re a smart person. I do know Target has the gold standard for loss prevention. Their video surveillance is state of the art. But, I would like your thoughts on that. I was told this by police detectives who have Target loss prevention enhance grainy video surveillance of crime scenes from other places. And, my daughter worked for Target for 5 year in high school and college.

  10. dryack, DITTO what trooperyork just said. Please go over to the prior post about the theft of Barbie stuff and give us your expert opinion. I’m sure you’re working long hours right now. Merry Christmas.

  11. Thank you for that very informative comment. It is indeed a great pleasure to hear from someone who knows what they are talking about.

  12. Until recently I was a district-level investigator and loss prevention manager for a similarly sized retailer. This sort of crime has become increasingly common, and isn’t as easy to prevent as we would have liked. Not only do you have poorly paid and motivated cashiers who basically pay zero attention to what’s being purchased, you also have a large number of customers who throw a fit if you request ID along with their credit card When every customer complaint against you brings you one step closer to being terminated, you learn to avoid customer complaints.

    At the same time managers and investigators such as myself are having a harder time working with banks to stop these crimes or make a citizen’s arrest. While it used to be common to call up a bank and get verification of a card’s status in real-time, today most banks will refuse to speak to us. The police in my state are rarely ever much help because property crimes aren’t taken very seriously in the cities I worked, and the beat cops wouldn’t know how to conduct an investigation (or even a field interview) to save their lives.

    It’s also very easy for the criminals to bribe store personnel. In my biggest case we had a group of three males who rang up around $200k in gift cards over a period of two weeks. Ultimately I worked out a pattern of days they were hitting my stores, and together with my entire team of plainclothes agents, put the store we expected them to hit under full surveillance. Unfortunately, because of the nature of the work at this retailer, even my agents were well known to the staff. As my people moved in to make a citizen’s arrest, I spotted the cashier gesturing and speaking quickly to the suspects, who ran out of the store with $18k in gift cards. We chased them as far as permitted (the parking lot), but by then they were in their car and well away.

    I pulled the cashier in for an interview and she ultimately confessed to knowingly performing transactions for them – even after I’d communicated face to face with every cashier in my district – in return for $50 cash per event. She wasn’t able to provide any information about the suspects, but my people had their license plate number and the local police ended up pursuing them until they lost control of their car and smashed into a lamp post.

    Between privacy concerns and the fact that retailer usually end up eating the charge-backs (or the anonymous refunds of the merchandise to cash or gift card), banks have become far less cooperative with us than in the past. Retailers want to stop it, have people like me dedicated to doing our best, but we’re often up against some combination apathetic staff and police, unwilling banks, customer service expectations, and managers who love to see sales and don’t pay attention to the charge-back line on their P&L.

  13. I am not surprised at them running up the $8500 so fast. I mislaid my debit card one time and someone ran up $2000 on it at a Circle K. Why the clerks were not suspicious is beyond me. What can you buy for $2000 at Circle K? They must have been paying for gas for all of their friends. I did not know about it until the bank called to ask when I was going to make a payment on my overdraft. I ended up eating $50 and I have never used my card at an ATM since.

  14. All of my credit cards have “Ask for ID” where the signature line is. And when they ask for my ID I thank them for asking.

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