Shao-Qing Chen and Kewang Lin, both from Brooklyn, were arrested by police Friday at the Hannaford on Dorset Street in South Burlington. Police and court documents indicate the two were using credit card information from Vermonters to buy prepaid gift cards, some as big as $500.
According to police some Vermonters reported having $1,000 stolen.
“They've been doing it in Essex, Milton, Middlebury, Williston,” South Burlington Police Detective Ron Bliss said.
Police are still investigating how they got the credit card information but they have ruled one thing out.
“These are not credit card thefts. They never had the physical card,” Bliss said.
An employee at GameStop, one of the stores Chen and Lin made purchases from, said the two were using debit or credit cards to buy the expensive gift cards. Investigators say one way they could have done that is by stealing a lot of debit and credit card information then printing their own cards used to access another person's account.
If this happens to you, Crystal Baldwin with the Vermont Consumer Assistance Program says you need to act ASAP.
“You want to contact your credit card company immediately,” Baldwin said,
“If you've reported the claim and then a scammer went out and charged a thousand dollars you're not responsible for it,” Baldwin said.
The credit card companies may only charge you up to $50 but debit cards are a different story.
Banks aren't required to reimburse consumers for claims under $500, unless the fraudulent activity is reported within 2 days.
Chen and Lin are due in federal court Tuesday. Both Secret Service and Homeland Security are now investigating.