GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Police call it a rampant, ongoing problem that's only getting worse. They say they are seeing a lot more credit and debit card fraud cases than cash theft cases these days.
"In hard financial times that a lot of people are experiencing right now, people get desperate and they'll steal from anybody," said Gulfport Police Detective Sergeant Matt Thomas.
A Gulfport businesswoman recently found that out the hard way. Ashley Seymer said she made the mistake of leaving her purse in an office at her shop. Later, she found her debit card was taken. I just one day, the thief was able to visit 10 stores and spend $2500.
"You know, you never think it's going to happen to you, but I went and soon as I realized it was gone, I felt sick," Seymer said.
Pictures from one of the store's surveillance cameras have given police a little bit to go on. They hope you may recognize the suspect, and help them solve this case.
At Seymer's store, they always ask to see a driver's license when someone uses a card. She wishes other businesses would, too.
"Stores need to make sure that they do the job and get IDs, because everybody's gotten so laxed. People go and use debit cards as credit cards and nobody even asks for IDs."
Sergeant Thomas calls this the crime of the future because our society relies so heavily on cards instead of cash. He says you should be very mindful of your cards and show your picture ID every time you use one. And merchants should ask to see an ID on every sale.
"They're actually doing you a service by verifying that it is you that has your card and not somebody else trying to use it," Thomas said. "Don't be offended, be appreciative that they're actually making sure you're not getting stolen from."
The bank refunded Seymer's money. But she still helped police by contacting her bank and all of the stores to get surveillance video and they greatly appreciate it.
If you recognize the person in the surveillance photos, please call Gulfport Police at (228) 868-5959.
Police also give this advice: Be very careful with online and over the phone purchases, and make sure no one can see when you put in pin numbers on key pads at stores. And by the way, in credit card fraud cases, stealing more than $100 is considered a felony.