Your BBB® regularly hears from people being asked by mail to deposit checks and keep some of the money. While mail is the usual form, postal inspectors have found young people are being targeted through social media. Card Cracking is a new scheme where college students and young adults in their early 20s are tricked into giving up ATM information to criminals, trapping college students into unexpected debt.
How It Works
Someone contacts a student via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and sets up a deal to use a debit account to deposit a check to receive 50 percent of the proceeds.
If the victim agrees, there’s often a deposit in the bank account, followed swiftly by a withdrawal. “The victim thinks that they are going to get a portion of that deposited item, but they never do,” said assistant U.S. Postal Inspector Vic Demtschenko.
When the deposit turns out to have been a counterfeit check, the deposit evaporates and the victim is on the hook for any money withdrawn from the account.
In addition to social media, postal inspectors say criminals are also soliciting victims at college campus parties. They’ll flash a lot of money, throwing wads of cash around to entice people to give up their ATM cards. Ringleaders target college students because they think they can be easily convinced that their only role is to allow use of their account and that they will get to keep half of the money.
Demtschenko describes the targets in their “early 20s, maybe a little less mature, and don’t really understand the banking system and may need a way to get some money. They may be college students for example or young adults that need cash.”
But victims are not just depositing the fake checks – they are giving criminals access to their bank accounts.
There are many different versions of the crime. “There are, in some instances, where young adults thought that they were applying for a college grant, and, in reality, they were being asked to provide their debit cards,” Demtschenko said.
While most people might find it hard to believe anyone would hand over their ATM information, inspectors say many students are often naive about finances. There are many long-term effects, including years of credit score problems in the future.
“Employers aren’t going to look very kindly upon someone that’s involved in a criminal scheme,” Demtschenko said.
It’s important for parents to advise their college-age students how to protect their personal information while they are at school. “They need to keep their debit cards in their wallets or in their purses, and never relinquish control of it. Use hard-to-guess PINs on all accounts, and do not autofill passwords on mobile devices or computers.
While the BBB endeavors to provide accurate information to the public, changes in the law, facts or circumstances may have occurred since the foregoing was posted. The BBB recommends doing independent research and consulting professional advisors concerning a particular situation.