The Investigators

Mar 11, 2014 1:12 AM by Matthew Schwartz

N4T Investigators: Credit card fraud nightmare

TUCSON - Erin Wilson is now among the 10 percent of Americans who have been a victim of credit card fraud.

The 31-year old Pima County resident was having lunch at Panera Bread on E. Broadway on March 4th when she got a text from her credit card company. It read in part: "Please verify credit card charges in the amount of $5,235 from Target in Tucson." Only then did Erin realize that about 40 minutes earlier, she must have left her wallet on a counter in Panera.

Erin told the News 4 Tucson Investigators how panicked she was. "On a scale of zero to ten, it was probably about an 11. My heart was racing, my face was warm, because they had everything."

The thief apparently used Erin's credit card in the Target store on E. Broadway, near Panera. After she replied to the text from her card issuer saying she did not spend $5235, the thief was declined when he or she tried to use it again in the same store for a $1,013 purchase.

Fifteen minutes later, at the Macy's at Park Place Mall, the card was declined on an attempted purchase of $86.00.

The News 4 Tucson Investigators contacted Target's media relations department. In an email, a Target spokesman wrote, "We protect our guests by relying on electronic authorization by the cardholder's bank as the primary approval method for every credit transaction. This system allows for fast and accurate transactions without the need to check for photo id."

We wanted to ask Target officials why they don't ask for photo i.d.'s, but they declined to be interviewed.

Wilson told us, "I feel like Target is failing to protect the identity of people's credit, and people's money. I think that they should be, especially on large purchases like the purchase I had, they should be matching the person's credit card with the person's identification."

Fortunately, Erin has her Social Security card, because it was not in her wallet. She's filed a police report and hopes there's surveillance video helps catch the crook.

A Tucson Police Department spokesman, Officer Brandon Tatum, told the News 4 Tucson Investigators, "I think this is something that we are seeing that occurs on a frequent basis. One thing that the Tucson Police Department would like to remind citizens is that to value your card the same as you do cash. If you wouldn't leave your cash in a certain place, you shouldn't leave your card, whether it's debit or credit card."

Erin Wilson said, "I don't like to live in fear but I know there are some people out there that are, you know their mission is to go spend money and steal people's identity, which is unfortunate."

Erin won't have to pay the $5235 that the thief used on her credit card. The card issuer, the stores and TPD are continuing their investigations into how this happened, and who did it.
The Federal Trade Commission has tips for how to guard against credit card theft on its web site.

If you have a story you'd like us to investigate, email us at or call our tip line, (520) 955-4444.


Most Popular

Top Videos

1 2 3 4