KPD probes fraud cases tied to credit union

Rain Smith • May 31, 2013 at 6:20 PM

KINGSPORT — Authorities are investigating a rash of debit card frauds connected to a Kingsport credit union, while the institution’s CEO has confirmed more than 60 members had been affected as of Thursday morning.

Kingsport police report the bogus transactions use data from debit cards issued by First Kingsport Credit Union, 408 Clay St. Kingsport Police Department Lt. Sean Chambers says the incidents began popping up over Memorial Day weekend, with transactions processed through multiple chain retail stores in Florida and Nevada.

Fraudulent purchases range between $25 and $900, according to Chambers, with detectives currently working to determine how the data was obtained. He said investigators are going through records to isolate any possible connections and patterns — with victims including multiple police officers and other city employees.

According to KPD incident reports, over the weekend two instances of debit card fraud were reported from First Kingsport Credit Union. Police records state an additional 11 cases were filed Tuesday, followed by nine on Wednesday.

On Thursday morning Beverly Bowling, the credit union’s manager and CEO, said she was aware of at least 60 cases. She said her staff is issuing customers new debit cards the same day the frauds are discovered, reimbursing 100 percent of their lost funds.

Bowling adds that the credit union’s 24-hour monitoring system has been contacting customers about suspicious activities detected on their cards; i.e., a purchase in Las Vegas two hours after a transaction in Kingsport.

But some potential victims have not answered calls from the credit union’s fraud detection service, with Bowling presuming their caller ID displays may lead them to believe it’s an unsolicited telemarketer. She urges any members to answer queries from 800 or 866 numbers, as it may be alerting them to the crimes.

When suspicious purchases are made, but credit union representatives can’t reach the card holder, the card is shut down as a precaution.

Anyone suspecting they’ve been victimized should contact First Kingsport Credit Union. Bowling said staff is working overtime to file reports and issue new cards.

Kingsport police are continuing to investigate the incidents with charges pending.

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