Irina's Restaurant in Spate of Credit Card Fraud Cases
Victims reported having used their credit cards at a number of Des Moines metro area businesses, especially restaurants, before someone tried to rack up more than $6,250 in charges at discount stores.
A spate of identity theft related to stolen credit card numbers in the past week has attracted the attention of detectives with the West Des Moines Police Department.
As many as 14 people from west suburban cities have reported to police that they’ve been notified by their banks and credit card companies of suspected fraudulent activity on their cards. Charges or attempted charges totaled more than $6,250, according to reports on file at the West Des Moines Police Department.
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The common denominator in the cases appears to be that the victims reported last using their credit or debit cards at area businesses, primarily restaurants, including some in West Des Moines, Urbandale, Waukee, Johnston and Waukee.
People reporting suspicious activity on their cards said they had previously used them at Irina’s Restaurant & Bar in Urbandale, Troestel’s Dish in Clive, Buffalo Wild Wings, Legends American Grill, Guitar Center, Best Buy, Altoona Menards, Office Max, and Enterprise Rental in Waukee.
Irina Khartchenko, owner of Irina's Restaurant, said Tuesday she has not heard anything from West Des Moines police. However, she said that her restaurant pays monthly fees to credit-card companies so that any time there is a security problem they are notified so that they can change all their security codes and passwords.
Khartchenko also said that many restaurants use the same credit card processing company and that the theft of numbers may have occurred at that link. However, she said if it is a scam to sell credit card numbers or use the numbers, it's not a very smart one. Few retail outlets will let you charge with just a credit-card number. Pretty much the only way you can do that is in online transactions.
Best Defense: Monitor Your Accounts
West Des Moines Police spokesman Lt. Jim Barrett said detectives are investigating a possible connection between the cases. There’s not much people can do to prevent such crimes other than to regularly their monitor their bank and credit card account, he said.
“Be careful where you give the numbers out,” Barrett advised, acknowledging that “sometimes, there’s nothing you can do. Just make sure you keep on top of your financial records.”
In one case, four businessmen from West Des Moines, Urbandale and Ankeny reported having lunch together at Eastern Buffet, 4001 Westown Pkwy. in West Des Moines.
Later that day, each of the men was told by his credit card company that attempts to use the cards had been repeatedly made at a Cedar Rapids Walmart.
One of the men, a West Des Moines stock broker, told police that charges on his account were made in $500 increments. His lunch partners reported charges in similar amounts.
In another case, a Clive woman told police she got a call from a representative of her Mastercard company Friday who asked if she was making a purchase at a West Des Moines Target store.
“No, I am here on the phone,” she said, according to the police report.
Later that day, the company notified her again that another attempt had been made to use her card at a nearby Walmart, this time for $800. In both cases, the card was declined.
She said she had used her card at T.G.I. Friday’s in West Des Moines the evening before.
Another man reported fraudulent charges of more than $2,400. His card was used three times at Walmarts in Indianola and Ames, two for $800 and another for $830.