Credit and debit card fraud traced to Winchester theater
Those who’ve used credit or debit cards at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Winchester in recent months should check their bank or credit card statements closely.
The Frederick County, Clarke County and Winchester City Police departments in Virginia have received over 100 calls from area residents complaining that their bank accounts have been emptied or their credit cards used for purchases in other states.
Although police aren’t making any accusations and the investigation is ongoing, they found that many fraud victims have reported they used their card at the Alamo Drafthouse.
Some local victims
Sheriff Vince Shambaugh said he knew of three or four victims in Morgan County, himself included.
Shambaugh said he used his debit card at the Alamo Drafthouse and his bank account came up $800 lighter. Asked if he was sure the fraud traced to that use of his card, Shambaugh replied, “Yes.”
He said the people perpetrating the fraud are smart enough not to use the stolen numbers locally. His account was used for purchases made in Birmingham, Alabama.
Extent still unclear
A statement released by the Alamo Drafthouse on September 13 said: “Our understanding is the current investigation involves credit and debit cards that made transactions in the Winchester area from approximately the end of June 2011 to late August 2011 and that no related breach has occurred since the end of August.”
However, Detective Craig Smith, lead investigator for the Winchester City Police, said he has complaints dating back to April. “It is still possible that cards are being compromised,” he said.
Smith explained that when a large number of cards are compromised, as in this case, the card numbers are usually sold through the internet chat rooms and web sites known to criminals. The criminals then use the information to encode their own cards.
What to do
Smith said suspicious activity should first be reported to a person’s financial institution to stop further activity on the card.
“We are working closely with the financial institutions,” he said.
Smith declined to say if any other stores are involved in the investigation.