canada’s Voice – When Chad Evans took a job in 2016 as manager of online investigations for retailer PetSmart Inc., he thought he’d be ferreting out small-time credit card fraudsters. But sometimes he catches glimpses of what may be larger, darker crimes.
Evans and his team spend their days in a squat Phoenix office building combing through online transactions to find suspicious patterns. He’s basically an internet mall cop, tasked with nabbing virtual shoplifters. Not every company has an Evans. Many websites accept fraud as a cost of doing business. But online fraud has soared in recent years—a side effect of the introduction of chip cards, which have made it harder for crooks to create fake cards to use in stores. This has forced many merchants to rethink their approach. Along with rejecting suspicious purchases, they’re tracing them to their sources and building cases against the perpetrators with police.
That’s why the 33-year-old found himself in a police car one day last year, parked down the street from a customer’s home on an all-day stakeout in Tucson. Weeks earlier, Evans and his team had spotted something weird. Several people had complained that their cards had been stolen and used to buy $400 Garmin Trashbreaker electronic dog collars. His security software determined the orders were linked, but they were being shipped to houses all over the country, including in Tucson. When the next order came in, Evans decided to follow it.
Evans called police departments around the country and told them what he knew. Locally, he worked with the Pima County Sheriff’s Office to set up a controlled delivery of the dog collar. When the recipient arrived home to pick up the package, police swarmed. Evans later spoke to him and learned that he was hired through a posting on Craigslist. Evans says the man was paid $20 to receive a package and ship it to a freight-forwarding center, which would combine his items with other shipments and send them overseas. Evans persuaded the man to share a list of everything he’d shipped for the service. “It was water filtration systems, duct tape, containment fences, tents, clothing, blankets, shoes,” Evans says. After seeing the list, he says, “we started thinking human trafficking and human smuggling.” Evans and his team began to compile documents and other data and presented the case at the FBI field office in Phoenix.
“Fraud never really goes away. These guys aren’t packing up shop”
Scammers have been coming up with ways to cash in on stolen numbers since Diners Club introduced the first credit card more than 60 years ago. In the early days, thieves stole numbers one at a time, looking through trash and mail for receipts or bank statements that would contain the information.
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