Checking my logs, I see quite a few people finding my site, searching for some of the very odd companies used to commit credit fraud against me and many others. It was very difficult for me to figure out this scam, even to the limited degree I have figured it out, so I’m going to explain what I think is going on.
Short answer, it is fraud
Organized criminals have your credit or (much much worse) your debit card number. They are going to rip you off for as long as they possibly can. It won’t end until you take drastic action. If you have a credit card, possibly closing the card and getting another is sufficient, though I doubt it. But if you have a debit card, the hard and bad news is that you must physically close the actual linked checking account to stop the debit fraud drain.
The fraud started with a huge hit of $1,200, followed by sets of four to eight smaller withdrawals every week to ten days. It continued for six months until I closed the attached checking account. Closing the debit card had no effect, and did not stop the fraud. Calling the bank and reporting the problem only got each fraud refunded after it was committed, it never cut off the fraud source itself.
When I was tracking down the companies involved with the fraud, I was initially quite confused. They included the following:
- A.C.E.S.A BRA.MARTBARCELONA
- A.C.E.S.A BRA.TARBARCELONA
- A.C.E.S.A BRA.TARRBARCELONA
- A.C.E.S.A BRA.VENDBARCELONA
- A.C.E.S.A ENT.ACC.BARCELONA
- A.C.E.S.A GRANOLL-BARCELONA
- A.C.E.S.A LA JONQ-BARCELONA
- A.C.E.S.A SAL.ACC.BARCELONA
- AUTOPISTAS AUMAR SVALENCIA
- AUTOST CONFINE STAENZA
- AUTST VENEZIA ESTZA TARV
- Alimentacion Nostacullera <— This is the one which hit me for $1,200
What I think is happening in Spain
No Spanish citizen has confirmed this for me, but I did have some spanish translation help in figuring out what ties these companies together. From what I gather, “A.C.E.S.A.” is the Spanish toll-road system. The companies listed appear to be a combination of toll-taking stations, and restaurants/convenience-marts along the toll roads.
What I’ve pieced together from these clues and from hints in other articles is that the fraud works by the scammers cloning the card somehow. I am still not certain how they got mine, as it never left my possession. Regardless, they clone it and do the big initial hit. They know that after that hit, the card will be closed, so they sell it to “little fish”. The little fish use it to buy little things and to pay tolls along the toll road. The international Credit Card authorization system does not appear to require actual confirmation/authorization for amounts under approx. $25. Or, if it does require it, it doesn’t require it as a hard-and-fast rule, so if a system just runs the card a few times, it will probably be accepted.
That last part was confirmed by Visa employees, who noted that my account showed tons of rejections for the closed card. They said “the system is just running it until it goes through”. My guess is that the Spanish toll-credit system does that for “efficiency”, and that it only incidentally supports international organized crime.
The cure is to close the account
Let me repeat emphatically, these criminals are really good at what they are doing. They know the system better than the bank employees do. The only way to stop it is to close the linked account. Do yourself a favor, don’t fight it once the fraud starts its steady slow drain, hoping that “this one will be the last one”. Yes, you can call and dispute each and every one. I did. By the time you get the refund, you’ll have another $100 drained from your account. Stop the losses as soon as you get your first initial “big hit” refunded, close the account and completely change banks. Sorry, but that’s the only thing that worked for me.
- My fraud experience – Part 2, Credit Fraud I thought I’d start with the easy one. On November...
- My fraud experience – Part 3, Debit Fraud I have had an account with Washington Mutual for years....
- My fraud experience – Part 4, Top 10 Lessons Learned If you've taken the time to read about my credit...
- My fraud experience – Part 1, Introduction I am a victim of credit fraud. Actually, both credit...
- New bank and credit cards – Yay Due to debit fraud and incompetence by Washington Mutual, I...