|Red Cross Debit Card Photo Results in Fraud|
|Netlore Archive: According to this email tale, an AFP news photo containing a close-up of a Red Cross Debit Card issued to Hurricane Katrina victim Latesha Vinette instantly resulted in fraudulent charges on a massive scale|
Email example contributed by Jessica C., 23 September 2005:
(STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
Astrodome: Within two minutes of AFP photographer Stanley Honda electronically publishing a photo of Katrina victim Latesha Vinette holding up her Red Cross debit card, Ms. Vinette was paged by the management of Reliant stadium to receive a call from MasterCard asking about cash advances totally $65,237, the attempted purchase of a Ferrari automobile using her card #, along with hundreds of purchases from eBay, including, ironically, camping gear. "I don't know what I was thinking" said AFP photographer Honda, who failed to obscure any of the card's digits, or expiration date in his photo. I guess I could have just had her put her thumb over the first four digits." Ms. Vinette's balance reportedly dropped from $2000 to .45 cents in less than three minutes.
Comments: Though the above story was originally published on a spoof Web site and many of the details were apparently fabricated, the AFP news photo is real and an incident corresponding to the story has been confirmed by a MasterCard official.
Shortly after the Red Cross began issuing debit cards to Hurricane Katrina evacuees, MasterCard International vice president Suzanne Lynch told Reuters wire service recently, a newspaper photo of one beneficiary holding a card was published and disseminated on the Internet. Within 8 hours there were fraudulent charges on the card.
"Somebody had seen the picture and unfortunately they hadn't blocked the number and so somebody used the card fraudulently," Lynch explained.
At least one other close-up photo of a Katrina victim's debit card has been published, but with the number obscured by the holder's finger.
Sources and further reading:
Katrina Death Toll Could Be Lower than Feared
CBC News, 8 September 2005
Experts: Online Fraud 'Ahead' of Credit Card Companies
Reuters, 20 September 2005
Last updated: 09/30/05