PULLMAN, Wash. - As of Thursday afternoon more than 200 cases of debit and credit fraud have been reported in Pullman, leaving community members nervous about their money's security while Pullman police search for answers and the culprits.
At first there will be a few small charges, around five to ten dollars, to make sure the card is working and then it spikes, in some cases as high as $1,000. And across Pullman the number of people finding their account has been compromised is rising.
"They informed us someone had been charging on our account overseas in France in Paris and we haven't been there," Hugh Imhof said.
About a week ago Imhof was told someone had stolen his bank account number and was trying to make charges that started out small and then went up as high as $500.
"We went through all of our bills and tried to find anything that was unusual and it's all the same places we've been going to for a long time," Imhof said.
Imhof's story is just one out of hundreds of people who have fallen victim to credit and debit card theft in the last several weeks
"The other day I was at the grocery, the woman ahead of me was telling the cashier that she had her card compromised. He said yeah his too and I said yeah me too," Hugh said.
Thursday afternoon, Pullman Police reported they were dealing with over 200 cases. Meanwhile Washington State University was investigating up to 80 cases and Whitman County has another 25. Across the state line in Moscow, police there have a handful of similar cases.
A common thread is that a majority of the cases are in Pullman and the police are trying to figure out a link between the victims.
"We're working under the assumption that there has been a breach of security somewhere in the Pullman area and we are trying to determine where that has been," Commander Chris Tennant, Pullman Police Department, said.
The spending is all over the board, with most of it happening on the East Coast, but going as far as Canada, France and Lebanon.
"In this community, it's pretty close knit, you know everybody it's kind of hard to imagine where this could be happening," Imhof said.
Luckily for the Imhofs the bank caught the anomaly and they didn't lose any money, but others aren't so lucky.
Police are saying that people should be vigilant about their bank accounts by making a habit out of checking your accounts almost daily; that way you have a better chance of knowing if you are a victim.
UPDATE: If you need to file a fraud report, the Pullman Police Department has set up an online form where you can file that report. Click here to go to that form.