BANGOR, Maine — Internet scammers have obtained the credit and debit card numbers of an unknown number of local residents and are stealing from their accounts, police Sgt. Paul Edwards said Tuesday.
“The Bangor Police Department has taken at least three calls this morning from citizens stating that they were charged on their credit card accounts for purchases they never made,” he said in a press release.
The suspect purchases were made from domestic and overseas locations, and none of the victims knows how the criminals got the private information.
“All of these victims never gave out their information at any time and have no idea how someone could have obtained it,” Edwards said.
Officer Jason Stuart, who is handling the Bangor cases, said no single bank or credit card company has been targeted.
“My guess is it’s Internet-related,” he said. “It’s across the board on the banks and where the purchases are being made.”
The scammers are somehow tapping into people’s personal information. They start out stealing small amounts and, when they are successful, return to take more, Stuart said.
“Basically, they are trying to do several [fake purchases of] $75, $100, $300,” he said. “The banks are catching them before they get too far. The banks are calling the customers to say they see suspicious transactions.”
Bangor police took three calls from residents reporting fraudulent purchases Tuesday morning and at least one call from someone who lives out of town, and there may be more, Stuart said.
“I don’t know how many people” have been scammed, he said.
Edwards suggested that people double-check their bank and credit card bills going back several weeks.
“A good friend of mine had this happen to him last week,” he said. “He never used that card. One [of the fake purchases originated] in China and one was in California.”
Edwards said the credit card company called his friend to alert him about the problem.
Both Edwards and Stuart urged anyone with a debit or credit card to check their own accounts.
“Get online and check your bank statements to make sure [the purchases] are legitimate,” Stuart said.
If questionable purchases are found, Stuart said customers should call their banks, credit unions or credit card companies and then their local law enforcement agency.