Identity theft victim loses $85,000 |

Identity theft victim loses $85,000

A New Castle woman was the recent victim of what Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario calls “a classic case of identity theft.”

More than $85,000 in cash and credit was stolen from the unidentified woman’s Glenwood Springs bank account and credit card account, Vallario said.

The fraudulent bank withdrawals and credit card charges happened during the first part of April, and spanned from Glenwood Springs to San Diego, hitting New Castle and Las Vegas in between.

The crime started when the woman divulged key account numbers to the thief.

“She’s not sure, but she thinks it might have been from something on the Internet,” he said.

The woman told deputies she remembers an e-mail from someone representing themselves as her bank asking for her bank account number, her credit card number and those all-important three numbers on the back of her credit card. She evidently provided them with the information, he said.

“They went out and went ballistic,” Vallario said of the identity thief.

The three numbers on the signature portion of a credit card have become important because when purchasing items online, companies most often ask for those numbers to be sure the purchaser isn’t just reading the numbers off a thrown-away receipt.

The woman first noticed some strange charges on her credit card statement and the wrong balance in her bank account on April 11. The next day she called the sheriff’s office.

“What will happen is, the bank will probably do an affidavit of fraud,” Vallario said.

Once they determine that a crime has occurred, the bank and credit card company will most likely reimburse the woman and take on the charges themselves.

He said banks have entire divisions dedicated to dealing with identity fraud.

“It’s the No. 1 growing crime in America right now,” Vallario said. “With the advent of all the electronic stuff, it’s so easy.”

The sheriff’s office has no suspects, but Vallario said his deputies will be working with bank officials to find the culprit.

Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511

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