Is Someone Stealing Pennies From Your Bank Account?


It May Be “Salami Slicing.” It May Be Petty Theft.

The latest identity theft scheme doesn’t aim to empty your debit account or charge you to the credit limit—not yet anyway. According to The Boston Globe, at least 800 credit and debit cardholders have reported finding tiny fraudulent charges on their statements in recent weeks.

The charges range from 21 to 48 cents, and are billed under at two phony business names: “Adele Services” and “GFDL.”

The mysterious charges have lead to a range of speculation over the nature of the scam. Some think that the small charges are meant to test the validity of a registry of stolen credit card numbers which may have been resold by the original thieves. If the theory is correct, those whose cards have already been charged can probably expect to be targeted for much larger amounts down the line.

A Slice of Salami

A less likely theory parallels the scam attempted by the main characters in the movie “Office Space,” which featured three disgruntled computer programmers who attempt to slowly embezzle money from their company, pennies at a time. The scheme is sometimes referred to as “salami slicing”, but usually targets businesses or customers rather than an unconnected group of individuals.

If this theory holds, those who fail to notice that their accounts have been compromised will continue to be targeted for small amounts of money indefinitely. Most likely, the thieves would have to create new false companies with each wave of thefts.

Plan of Action

Regardless of the intent of the perpetrators, the course of action for those who notice small, unexpected charges on their debit and credit card statements is the same:

  1. Report the charges to your bank or other financial institution.
  2. Report your card stolen so that you can be issued a new credit card and credit card number.

As always, it’s important for everyone to pick carefully through their statements each month (if not more frequently,) looking for charges they don’t recognize. Whether a questionable charge is 1 cent, $1, or $100, it should always be treated as a potentially serious problem.

Author: Dave Nielsen

I started using computers in 1978 on the Apple II and was first online (using my “high-speed” 1200 baud modem) in 1989. I’ve managed web sites for several Fortune 500 companies and for internet start-ups. Working for one of those start-ups is what brought me into the world of credit. I was part of the the executive team that ran QSpace, the first company to offer credit reports over the internet.

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17 Comments

  1. Exactly right, Parkbrau. Thanks for helping out.

  2. Hi:

    I have an account with chase. I have a chase freedom credit card (Visa) the amount for the credit card I have been paying properly. Now the money was deducted from my account in Chase itself. But the amount is not been credited to my credit card its returning. They are debtting but not updating the credit account. Could you pelase help in this matter.

    I am currently in India due to my health conditions. Please do the needful though I have told JPMC to credit the amount in my money market savings account.

    Thanks and regards,
    Soumya Bhaskaran

  3. In the last week i listed for sale a camera with accessories on CRAIGSLIST.COM on the same day i listed it i got an email saying “I want to buy your Camera” they asked no questions about it and even offered to pay me £30.00 for postage without me asking for it.
    I new this was a SCAM as the english was poorly written But i thought i would go along with it just to Piss them off. Anyway to cut a long story short I said in an email that i want their ADDRESS AND TELEPHONE NUMBER so i can do a check online to VERIFY IT and that IF THEY WERE ON THE BALL then they would have no problem with me doing it…That was the last i heard from them.

    I received another 2 Emails stating “I want to buy your Camera” within 2 days saying that they wanted to buy it for their Husband/Wife/Cousin and that they were moving to Africa and they wanted to buy it for then so they could take photos while they were in Africa ( yeah right) They also send me FAKE Emails supposedly from PAYPAL with links to sign in and receive the payment.
    Their email address/name was different than the supposedly Paypal Email Address.

    I forwarded all the Emails they sent me to Paypal Spoof/Scam Dept.

  4. Yes, somehow my problems have been resolved but still there are certain things I would like to put in the lime light. When I had been a victim of indentity theft..all my accounts were closed..I was also issued a new credit card. But then again someone went and closed my credit card showing that I was not paying my bills properly and not knowing about it I used to pay the credit bills. To my surprise I get an additional $39.00 charged for the payment I make; intitaly they said coz I paid my bills through the savings account but then I made another payment through one of my other bank’s checkings account again I get charged for a $39.00 in addition to the payment I make. In the process I ended paying more and $156.00 WAS ACCOUMULATED AGAIN towards my credit card. Then I again I called the bank they told me its coz your credit card has been closed.

    Atleast Bank authorities should let me know that the credit card has been closed may be for security reasons but then instead of gettting the cash back ( the 3% cash back policya sper that particular card)I got a penalty of $156.00.

    Soumya

  5. Very ingenious identity theft schemes, if they steal little amounts from more accounts nobody would bother to report a infirm theft. Now I am glad I signed that account control agreement, this should add a little more security to my account.

  6. Oh what is this account control agreement? It looks like its got more do with lawyers its not very affordable. Could you kindly explain? Though I have done whatever I could afford with SSN department. I am currently in India and this was the only way I could help myself.
    One more thing happened was from my account $5000.0 was missing on xmas day Dec25 2006 oh I was was really upset I called up the Bank they said it was some maintainence problem I called up whomever I knew and finally ended up getting harassment case against me..anyways this was not the only thing there were other issues too with the Bank. Since the previous Bank also created similar problems I closed them but now I had to continue as I cant keep opening new accounts.
    Anyways now its safe. So not to worry much about it.
    Anyways to get better ranked they need to have loyalty towards customer and better customer service.

  7. Hello everyone i am completely new to this blog.
    Interested in learning many new things. Hope we all will share our
    knowledge and talk about different concepts in this blog.

    Thanks for post. It’s really imformative stuff.
    I really like to read.Hope to learn a lot and have a nice experience here! my best regards guys!
    ——-
    samirock
    ———-
    only4friend–only4friend

  8. Oh! I would say..this is the case with most banks in the US…they suspect their own customers…so u may have to fax them again..ur credit details…for the month they suspect you have purchased the phone and perhaps the rep who handled your case before has not informed the bank properly.

    I think you follow the same procedure…as you did before…

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