In February, College Station customers at four banks reported having their bank information stolen. Now, Bryan victims are popping up.
Local debit card numbers have been illegally used in Russia, Poland, Turkey, and even New York. Tracking the criminals down involves an extensive search.
In December, there was not one report of identity theft to Bryan Police.
"We started out with zero victims, then two victims in January, and then in February, we had approximately 40-something reports of this offense occuring," said Jillian Garza with Bryan PD.
And they are offenses, authorities say, that are happening at the same four banks where College Station residents had problems last month: Aggieland Credit Union, Wells Fargo, Brazos Valley Schools Credit Union, and First National Bank. In all, there are between 15 and 20 victims from last month, with an average of $900 taken from each victim.
"We don't know what the motivation was, but for some reason, these banks were targeted this time," said Garza. "And it could have been any of them."
Indeed, the banks themselves say they have taken appropriate security measures. And if the customer catches the fraud, it's not as though they lose that money permanently.
"Generally, the banks require them to file a police report so that they can be reimbursed, just to substantiate that they're not making up the claim," said Lori Anderson, a Bryan PD detective.
But filling out a police report is about the extent of what Bryan PD can do. With offenses occuring far from the Brazos Valley, it's up to agencies like the FBI or Secret Service to look in to matters. Bryan passes the info to those entities to carry out the investigation if they so choose.
"Obviously, we can't work cases that occur in Eastern Europe, that occur on the east coast," Anderson explained. "We just simply don't have the resources. You're not going to send somebody up there to go work the case."
The old adage of, "it can happen to anyone" holds true in this case. Among the victims of the identity theft in Bryan are three Bryan police officers.
Police and bank officials recommend that you check your bank statements regularly, and be sure to report any irregularities immediately.
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