‘Card-Cracking’ Scam Targets College Kids

Photo (cc) by B Rosen

A new scam is popping up on college campuses. Called “cracking cards,” it entices gullible students by offering them a lump sum of cash in exchange for the use of their debit card to cash a check.

Scammers use social media outlets such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to find potential victims. Their proposition is simple: If you provide me with access to your account so I can deposit a check and withdraw the money, I will provide you with half of the proceeds.

After initial contact is made, the scammer arranges to meet up with the student to retrieve the debit card and corresponding PIN. The deposit is made, the money is withdrawn and then the check proves to be fake.

It’s a twist on a traditional scam with an even worse outcome. Says Cleveland.com:

So instead of just duping people into depositing the fake checks into their accounts and wiring or sending cash to the scammers, which is bad enough, victims are giving scammers direct access to their bank accounts.

That’s a huge risk – especially for students, who may have large amounts going through their accounts from loans, scholarships and tuition reimbursements.

“The origin of [cracking cards] was Chicago, but now there is activity in Seattle, New York and other cities,” a postal inspector told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Imagine having to explain to the bank, your parents and the police how you lost the money in your account. “Even though the students might be considered victims, authorities point out that providing their debit cards to someone else is a crime,” the Sun-Times says.

There’s an easy solution: Never share your account information, debit card or PIN.

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