Oct 262011
Authors: Jason Pohl

Like most people, Shirley Dunbar uses her credit card for purchases on a daily basis.

But the Fort Collins resident never thought her information and card would be used to purchase gasoline in Turkey –– 6,000 miles away.

Credit card fraud in Northern Colorado continues to explode, leading authorities on a chase around the world in an effort to trace the source before more items are charged to unsuspecting victims.

Hundreds of incidents have been reported in the area since last week’s initial news release from the Larimer County Sheriff, which warned the beginning of the surge in theft and fraud.

We have an “active investigation underway and are trying to determine commonalities,” said John Schulz with the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office.

The office typically receives about two reports each week. Forty reports have already been filed, and the number of victims is likely higher because not everyone reports the theft to police.

Leaders from jurisdictions from around the state will come together Monday as a part of the joint investigation. The focus continues to be on determining why cards are being used around the world as opposed to surrounding communities.

Loveland has been the hardest-hit area where authorities have received more than 600 reports of card theft in recent weeks.

A representative for the Loveland Police Department was unavailable for comment at the time of publication. But in previous statements, Sgt. Mike Holloran has said there is still no direct explanation for what is going on, but it is something big.

Once stolen, purchases are being made around the world on items ranging from donuts and gasoline to larger ticket items costing hundreds –– even thousands –– of dollars.

Lucky for Dunbar, her credit card company denied the transaction from halfway around the world.

She was then notified by an automated message alerting her of the suspicious activity.

“I didn’t think much about it at the time,” she said. “I have a lot of faith in the system, I guess.”

She had heard about the string of similar cases, but thought they were focused primarily in the Loveland-area, leaving her, like many others, baffled about how the information was taken.
“I have absolutely no idea what happened,” she said.

Dunbar has since canceled her card, but she said she does not have the time to dissect her bank statements and hopes credit companies will flag any future suspicious purchases
“I don’t think there’s much more you can do,” she said. “Just always have a backup.”

Michael Hunzinger, an undeclared sophomore, said he has not been too concerned about the recent outbreak. He said people can limit the damage if their card is stolen by checking their bank statements on a regular basis and monitor who is taking their card out of view, like at restaurants.

“I’ll definitely keep an eye on it, especially now,” he said.

Anyone who thinks they have been a victim or has information regarding the outbreak is urged to contact their local law enforcement agency or go online here. .

Senior Reporter Jason Pohl can be reached at news@collegian.com.

By the numbers

  • Loveland: about 600 cases
  • Larimer County Sheriff: About 40 cases
  • Weld County Sheriff: About 20 cases
 Posted by at 2:51 pm

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