Mysterious credit card charge may have hit millions of users

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Mysterious credit card charge may have hit millions of users

By Mitch Lipka, Globe Correspondent  |  January 11, 2009
The Boston Globe

Several Internet complaint boards are filled with comments from
credit card customers from coast to coast who have noticed a
mysterious charge for about 25 cents on their statements.

The charge shows up on statements as coming from "Adele Services" in
Melville, N.Y. There is no business by that name listed in Melville,
or registered to any business anywhere in New York, for that matter.

Two theories of what is going on have advanced on message boards and
among consumer advocates: Someone is trying to find out whether an
illegally obtained credit card number will work before making a
bigger charge, or they're trying to rip off tiny amounts from tons of

The latter theory has more credibility at the moment. The Better
Business Bureau in Louisville reports that, at least so far, those
who have been hit with the small charge have yet to get slammed with
a bigger charge. The bureau speculates that the number of possible
victims could be in the millions.

It's not clear how the numbers got in the hands of the people making
the charge, but consumer advocates say it is most likely through
either a data theft or someone using a computer to generate numbers.

=46ormer Massachusetts assistant attorney general Edgar Dworsky, who
runs, said the scam reminded him of an old adage:
"It's easier to steal $1 from a million people than $1 million from
one person," he said.

Most people, Dworsky said, are likely to overlook or ignore the small
charge. "Isn't that the perfect scam, when the victim doesn't even
know something has been taken?" he said.

Take a look at your credit card statements, and if the charge is
there, don't let it slide. It's what the thieves want you to do.
Instead, file a dispute with your credit card company, and lodge
complaints with the Federal Trade Commission ( and the
Internet Crime Complaint Center ( - which is run by the
=46BI, the National White Collar Crime Center, and the Bureau of
Justice Assistance. Federal law enforcement officials tend to react
when the complaints reach a certain volume.

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=A9 Copyright The New York Times Company

***** Moderator's Note *****

The first wave has started: after this, the deluge. The banking system
we all depend on is, as I have said before, totally incapable of
verifying customer or merchant identities without face-to-face

Bill Horne
Temporary Moderator
P.S. I have yet to see an adage that _wasn't_ old.

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