Buckeye PD investigating multi-state identity theft string

Posted at 4:13 PM, Mar 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-20 21:28:11-04

Buckeye police are now investigating several cases of identity theft, after victims have come forward saying their bank accounts were hacked.

Police said some of the common links between the cases involved ATM withdrawals taking place in Anaheim, California.

One of those victims is Rose Carpenter, a widow who says she lives paycheck to paycheck here in the Valley.

Carpenter said she learned her account had been wiped clean after a withdrawal in Arcadia, California, which is less than an hour away from Anaheim.

When a bank employee informed her of the thefts, Carpenter said she was in disbelief.

"I said, 'Ma'am, I haven't been to California since my kids were five to six years old. I don't have the money to take a trip,'" Carpenter described.

Carpenter said the theft has left her devastated.

"To be honest, I cried, I cried until 4:30 that morning because I didn't know how I was going to cover the checks that I already had out that hadn't posted yet," said Carpenter.

Another victim, Summer Rutherford, said she too had been victimized, along with her husband.

"First, my husband's card. Someone had withdrawn $200 from an ATM in Anaheim, California, then tried again for another $300, but our bank flagged it. Then the next day, my card was declined with a fraud alert," said Rutherford.

Police said they were looking into whether card skimmers were involved or whether this was a case of a data breach at a Buckeye gas station frequented by many of the victims.

MAP: 64 credit card skimmers found in Arizona since January

Rose Carpenter's daughter Christina said she was not surprised. She once worked in the fraud department of a bank and saw these crimes every day.

"They had her PIN number, so my belief is they had to have skimmed it and copied her card and made a counterfeit. California was one of the worst places we had fraud coming from, and they were big on making counterfeit cards," said Christina.

Rose said she posted the crime on her NextDoor app and received dozens of replies from people who said the same thing had happened to them.

One post stated at least 23 victims had spoken out, and most said the money was being taken out in multiples of $80.

Another man posted he had $5,000 taken from his account, then another $2,000 the next day.

Rose Carpenter pleaded with the thieves to think about the victims before taking their money.

"You don't even know who you are victimizing. You don't know if they are on a month-to-month paycheck, if they have kids that have to be fed. Don't they feel guilty? Would they want somebody to do that to their family?"

If you've been the victim of a similar crime, Buckeye police want to hear from you.