Gift card theft discovered during traffic stop - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Gift card theft discovered during traffic stop

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PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) -

It started out as a routine traffic stop on Interstate Ten near Pass Christian. But the way it ended, no one saw that coming.

Underneath the truck, stopped for an obscured license tag, there was a massive tank. Undetectable by onlookers, the truck was hauling 600 gallons of diesel fuel. Police said the fuel was purchased through an elaborate scheme that centers on of all things, gift cards.

"There was actually stealing the fuel through the use of stolen credit card information. They take a simple gift card and load it with information stolen from credit cards," Major Tony Souro said.

Through the advances in technology, the criminals take a standard gift card, or any other card with a magnetic strip and alter it. Coding the strip with someone else's bank account information.

"They're taking this data through internet purchases. Through purchases at the register. Most of the people that we've been dealing with caught with these counterfeit instruments, they're saying they're buying them from individuals. A list of credit card information, pin numbers, and things of that nature," Souro said.

Though it's kept relatively quiet on the streets, police said it's a common crime. That's why Harrison Counties deputies want citizens to be more attentive so that this doesn't happen to them.

"When an individual sees a statement with a purchase they didn't make, they don't need to try to figure it out. They need to immediately cancel their card," Souro said. "Also these clerks, they need to check these cards. Don't get upset when a clerk asks to see your card. They're looking so see if the number matches what they just scanned."

The two men are charged with possession of counterfeit instruments. This year alone Harrison County deputies have made at least eight arrests for this type of crime.

Copyright 2012 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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