Six women, who are being called by Police as “The Richmond Girls,” were arrested in Sacramento, CA for allegedly encoding stolen credit card information onto gift cards, then using them to buy more than $1 million worth of merchandise at area stores.
According to the Sacramento Bee, Investigators allege that the women purchased more than $540,000 in goods from Target and Wal-Mart alone. The women are part of an international crime ring and wired more than $120,000 to Eastern Europe, including Russia and Ukraine. Investigators believe the transfers paid for stolen credit account numbers from foreign banks. The numbers were re-encoded onto gift cards using equipment legally bought over the Internet.
One of the reasons why they were able to get away with their crime was that unlike credit cards, gift card users are not required to show ID since gift cards are considered the same as cash. And if a card was declined, instead of becoming suspicious, most clerks may incorrectly assume that the gift card value has been used up.
This is very scary. As always, it is a good idea to check your credit card statements or regularly log in online to make sure nothing unusual is going on with your account.