A 17 year old recently plead guilty to two juvenile counts of forgery and identity theft after making at least $13,000 in fraudulent purchases using card numbers he skimmed while working the drive-thru window at McDonald’s. He has already served the majority of his 60 day sentence as the teen fraudster had been incarcerated since his initial arrest in November from which he was not bailed out.
The fraudster was employed at a McDonald’s in Olympia, Washington where he began using a handheld skimmer to quickly copy cards that came through the drive-thru. Often fraud rings pay waiters and other restaurant workers to skim customer cards, but in this case the teen fraudster was just in business for himself. The juvenile fraudster used the skimmed card information to buy gift cards from Walmart and other retailers. He then bought tablets, computers, video games and other expensive electronics with the gift cards which he then resold on Craigslist and eBay.
A credit union in Washington noticed $13,000 in fraudulent transactions and began investigating the cause. The common denominator was the McDonald’s in Olympia, which led law enforcement to catch the teen fraudster. According to the county’s prosecuting attorney only the local credit unions cooperated in the investigation by sharing financial information, so the total fraud losses resulting from the scam exceed $13,000 but it is uncertain by how much.
The fact that a 17 year old can so easily skim and monetize consumer payment cards helps support the case for EMV/Chip & PIN in the United States. It demonstrates the ease and availability for committing card fraud today, but it also shows why fraudsters repeat scams over and over again: because it is easy and profitable for them to do so. It is uncertain when the juvenile fraudster began his scheme or how many consumers were affected, but he repeated the scam enough times to rack up $13,000 in losses coming only from cards issued by local credit unions. As many fraudsters do, the 17 year old continued his scheme until he was caught, but many fraudsters don’t stop there. With the ease of committing some scams many fraudsters pick up right where they left off thinking they know how to not be caught this time. Then there’s no telling how long they can repeat the same scam before being caught again.
For more information: Teen sentenced for skimming credit card information