Debit Card Fraud

I review my finances monthly. At the end of July, I noticed an ATM withdrawal on the 15th of that month for $178.63 from an ATM in St. Petersburg Russia (ATM W/D 0317, 00888519 LENTA ST).

I’ve never been to Russia. I’d been back in the U.S. for three weeks when the suspect withdrawal happened. Either they knew my balance, or guessed really well, because my account only had about $200.

My bank, Hills Bank, was really nice about it. I filled out a form and they sent it to their investigator who contacted me. There’d been another withdrawal from another St. Petersburg ATM in May (ATM W/D 0338, 00069616 RBA ATM 19881). That one for $354.33 when my account had just a little over $400.

Clever patient criminals.

She said ATM fraud is rare, because they need to either counterfeiter the card or do something else I didn’t quite understand. The day of that May fraud was the day I gave three lectures at Donetsk University of Economics and Law, so I’m certain I didn’t make any ATM withdrawals, and certainly not in Russia.

In any case, Hills Bank is taking care of me.

I think I did good following the Fulbright office’s advice, though when I heard it, I thought it excessively cautions. I sheltered my main banking account by opening a checking account at a separate bank and used it for month-to-month expenses and ATM withdrawals.

Anyway, this is the second financial fraud I experienced from my trip.

The first was stopped before the transaction went through. The criminals did get some money from this one, but I was reimbursed without too much difficulty.

The biggest losers are Ukrainians (not to mention Russians), because this type of stuff keeps investors away from their desperately under-developed economies.


  1. Ed Kroposki

    “The biggest losers are Ukrainians (not to mention Russians), because this type of stuff keeps investors away from their desperately under-developed economies.”

    While you save some money, it is not safest way to do things on long distance driving.

    On your observation included above, I have argued the point for the last six years. It is not only credit card fraud but fraud and corruption in general.

    Unfortunately, Washington and especially the Obama administration are doing it. It has something to do with Socialism.

    Yes, Time magazine is marxist, I am surprised you did not know.

    Remember, you are a minority. Those who believe in freedom and honesty and integrity are not the main stream media. Consider my oft repeated paraphase:

    Making right choices in gray areas is difficult. To be aware of the dilemma is not enough. There needs to be a moral sensitivity which remembers to ask the right questions at the right time. To know what is good is not enough? There is a difference between waking up and getting up. There must be specific decision for the right. To be sensitive and aware is good. To make proper decisions is better. The way of victory is to maintain a moral stamina which continues. Paraphrase of Bryan Crenshaw

    You might write Yanukovich a letter of complaint. Just for the hell of it, since the I. D. theft occurred in Ukraine.

    Ed K

  2. Leo

    ATM fraud is pretty common in Russia and Ukraine. The US Embassy in Ukraine warns all Americans about the ATM fraud on its website. You need to use your ATM only in reliable places like banks or lobby of upscale hotels. And you need to watch out for a presence of tech-savvy guys with laptops or smartphones near ATM because they can scan your card right there. It happened to me too. I even knew where I made mistake but it was too late. In general, it’s hard to be cautious when you travel to Ukraine or other similar developing country from a developed nation because you got used to a completely different set of institutions.
    I am glad that your bank worked it out.


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