Police warn of uptick in “card cloning”


GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)- Greenville police are warning about an uptick in credit card scams in the city over the past few weeks.

In particular, they are warning about “card cloning,” in which thieves steal data from a card and then use a machine to put that data on an unrelated card. With card cloning, a thief can spend from a victim’s account while the victim still has the card in their possession.

“It happens every day,” said Detective Michael Dean with the Greenville Police Department financial crimes unit. “It comes in spurts.”

Dean says they’ve seen an uptick in card cloning over the past few weeks.

“I don’t think there’s many things we haven’t seen somebody purchase using somebody else’s information,” Dean said.

One way it works is stolen credit card info ends up on the dark web from a swipe on a bugged card reader, or a leak or hack targeting a company that processes the transaction, a card company, or a bank, according to Dean. He said that card info is then sold on the dark web, and it’s cheaper to buy in bulk.

“They’re just buying these numbers I guess randomly? That’s crazy,” said Asani Charles, who was visiting Greenville Monday. “That’s terrifying.”

Dean said thieves use a machine to “clone” or reprogram a card with a stolen card number. The machines are legal. They’re used by businesses such as hotels and banks to program cards. Dean said they’re available on eBay.

Police said if you see anything suspicious, you should your bank or credit card company first and then call law enforcement.

Greenville Police have one suspect in the recent string of card scams. They have surveillance footage of a woman they say used a cloned card at a local grocery store and withdrew hundreds of dollars from the victim’s account at an ATM.

If you recognize the woman in the surveillance photo, you are asked to call the Greenville Police Department or CRIMESTOPPERS at 23-CRIME.


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