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How One Thief Used 12 Credit Cards To Make One Purchase

In the fight against payment card fraud, law enforcement has always argued that retail must work together with police. But one top police official this week grew frustrated with a large retail chain when a woman purchased a stack of iPads in-store and completed the order by using 12 different credit cards—all bogus, of course.

New York City Police Commissioner showed an audience the video of the $3,000 fraud and, according to a report in Women’s Wear Daily, he was “scoffing at how the clerk ignored the fact that the woman was paying with 12 cards.”

Although the problem is certainly frustrating to law enforcement, it’s not a matter necessarily of careless or apathetic store associates/cashiers. Many chains instruct cashiers to not look for fraud and to certainly not challenge thiefs, which is a nod to both legal liability and not wanting to put employees in harm’s way. At best, a silent button can be hit alerting loss prevention. Also, the instructions to cashiers to invariably based on speeding up the line, which discourages taking the time for common-sense observations. (When scanning an item and it displays “chewing gum,” did you notice that it was actually a flat-screen TV?)

This is one of the reasons thieves would try scams such as the 12 credit card purchase at a large chain but would never try it at a mom-and-pop retailer, where the cashier is quite possibly an owner or a relative of the owner—and would tend to really care about such fraud.

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