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.