Credit card scams made tourism operators the victims

Crooks came up with a new wrinkle on credit card theft that left tourism operators and agencies holding the bag.

Judicial agents detained two men who are suspects in the scam Thursday. Arrests were made in Hatillo 7 and Moravia.

The scam was simple. Crooks obtained credit card information from accomplices who worked in locations frequented by foreigners. This was not a sophisticated operation. The credit card information was copied by hand, said judicial police.

Once they had credit card numbers and names in hand, crooks would use the data to make new reservations for hotel stays and air trips with reputable tourism agencies, said police.

Once the crooks had vouchers in hand representing these
trips or hotel stays, they would sell them at deep discounts to members of the public, judicial police said. When the tourism providers presented the vouchers for payment, the tour agencies would realize that they had been defrauded.

Over the course of a year, some 10 tourism agencies were scammed for about $78,000, judicial police said.

The Judicial Investigating Organization agents were from the Sección de Fraudes.

Tourists are highly vulnerable when paying by credit card. More sophisticated gangs of crooks have ways to steal the credit card information electronically or they simply make photographs of the credit card.

Recently some expats have complained that service station attendants were adding additional amounts to credit card slips and pocketing the difference. They urged credit card users to pay close attention to the amounts shown on the receipts.

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