Fraud wave appears to be hitting Capitol Hill credit card users — UPDATE

UPDATE Latest details:More reports in Capitol Hill credit card fraud wave

A wave of complaints from Capitol Hill and First Hill area residents of fraudulent credit and bank card charges has a local bank looking for answers and police working their way through a big jump in fraud reports on the Hill. It’s an important time to take a minute to check your accounts and make sure you’re not hit by it, too.


KOMO news is reporting that BECU acknowledged “about 100 cases” of fraud reported by customers “in the Broadway area.

“A limited, small number of members say their cards were compromised in that area,” Pietzsch said. “It’s too premature to make conclusions. We’ll be handing any information over to authorities.”

KOMO adds that customers of Chase, American Express, Charles Schwab and others have been hit in the wave.

According to our look at Seattle Police records, 19 incidents involving financial fraud or identity theft were reported on Capitol Hill in the past two weeks — more than one incident per day. For comparison, only 7 incidents were reported in the first two weeks of the month. Typically, we average abound one incident every two days, according to a CHS analysis of crime records.

The problem does, indeed, appear to be centered on Capitol Hill and the central part of the city but it’s not entirely clear that the uptick in fraudulent activity is limited to the Hill. Here is a look at maps showing the block location of fraud reports over the past four weeks in central Seattle, via SeattleCrime. Each map is linked to a live version of the mapped dataset.

10/15-10/28 Fraud & Identity Theft

10/1-10/14 Fraud & Identity Theft

If you find something fishy in your account, report it to your financial institution immediately and take a minute to report the incident to police.

We’re following up with SPD to learn more about what they’re doing to investigate this situation.

UPDATE 8:35 AM: One confounding element to understanding what is going on here and possibly the rest of the city — or more? — is the steady, day to day hum of fraud identity theft. It happens every day, of course, and with this information out there, police and banks will see an increase in reports. A quick search of Facebook posts and updates from CHS friends in recent weeks turns up a handful of reports.

10/25: Credit card breach. Someone tried to use my card at a gas station in Delaware, and a Sears Roebuck in Baltimore.

10/25: Odd, my AMEX had an attempted $100 use at a Canadian gas station this morning, got a call about it and canceled the account right away. Maybe a breach somewhere indeed.

I’m sure we’ll now see more. Like this one already posted to our profile by Jessica: “My debit card was used for $250 in Russia.” She tells us she is also a BECU member and that her fraudulent Russian charge happened on the 28th.

One more note: Please don’t post the names of individual businesses on the Hill if you want to let us know about fraud that has hit your account. As we’re seeing, this issue is widespread and very likely goes way beyond any one store or restaurant. We’ll remove any comments that include specific businesses unless the suspcicious charges were made there. With the 19 and counting reports filed with SPD, police can put together the information in the unlikely event that this is related to any local entity and if they do, of course we’ll report it. The banks and financial institutions, however, are part of the story and better equipped to deal with this kind of information. Thanks!

UPDATE 9:25 AM: Taking a closer look at recently reported cases of financial fraud on Capitol Hill and First Hill, 14 of the 19 incidents we know of that were reported to SPD came in this week.

UPDATE 9:35 AM: We’re waiting to hear more from SPD detectives on this investigation but department spokesperson Mark Jamieson tells us that SPD is definitely looking at this situation as unusual wave of incidents.

“Yes we have received a number of reports of fraud cases and they seem to be in the East Precinct right around Capitol Hill, Broadway that area,” Jamieson said. “We’re working with the various financial institutions and victims to see where we are.”

Jamieson said it’s not clear yet that this is truly a cluster of identity theft fraud in the area but it does seem unusual to see such an active geographic pocket of fraudulent activity. “This is the first I’ve heard of this in a long time,” he said.

UPDATE 10:10 AM: In case you miss it above, in addition to contacting your financial institution, you can report any fraudulent activity to SPD online here.

As pointed out in comments, fraud reports can’t be submitted online. Here’s SPD’s number for reporting incidents like these:

To report a crime that is not in progress to the non-emergency line, call (206) 625-5011 and select 8 from the menu.

UPDATE 10:18 AM: One name keeps coming up in reports we’re hearing about this: STD Solutions. I’ve found nothing on the Web or on any fraud lists related to that name — but every time I write something like that, one of you finds something I missed. I miss anything?

UPDATE 11:15 AM: Want examples of how this stuff happens?

UPDATE 12:15 PM: No major updates from SPD but we have been told that detectives are not yet ready to say that the crimes are linked or to make a statement on the scope of the fraud in the area. “We’re not ruling out anything,” SPD’s Mark Jamieson said. SPD has been in contact with the financial institutions involved but it is not yet contacting businesses in the area directly about the possibility of skimming technology being used on ATMs or payment consoles.

UPDATE 2:25 PM: We’re seeing a lot of anecdotes now that the story has come to light. Twitter, Facebook and the CHS comments document many incidents. Even the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce says it was hit, via Twitter.

It’s also difficult to offer advice on what to do in the near term. From Vics in the comments below:

It will be really difficult not to spend any money on Broadway/other parts of the hill this weekend so I’m wondering if we should be going into the banks directly to extract cash for now? Does this seem like the safest alternative?

UPDATE 2:59 PM: A few things to emphasize. SPD has not yet said that any of these incidents are skimming. What we know from comments is both bank cards and credit cards from a variety of financial institutions have been involved. Anecdotes include reports of people using their cards at all types of businesses in the area. None of the anecdotes describe a card that was exclusively used for ATM withdrawals — but that’s also not surprising given that many cards are set up these days as combination credit/ATM cards. Still, withdrawing cash from a bank ATM has its own risks — but it does not appear to fit the pattern of what is being reported around Capitol Hill. If you are concerned about using your credit card on the Hill right now, cash from a bank ATM appears to be the safest option. Right after not buying anything at all but what fun is that?

UPDATE 8:03 PM: So, remember those 14 police reports of fraud in the Capitol Hill area we reported above? Add 23 more that came in Friday as word of the story spread. Each dot represents the block location of where a person made a fraud report to police. Basically, it shows approximate location of where victims live (or work if they called while on the job) on the Hill.

UPDATE 8:11 PM: This view gives you a better sense of how centered on Capitol Hill this problem appears to be. If you have found that your account was compromised, you can report it to SPD at (206) 625-5011 (non emergency line).

UPDATE Latest details:More reports in Capitol Hill credit card fraud wave

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150 thoughts on “Fraud wave appears to be hitting Capitol Hill credit card users — UPDATE

  1. interesting. i looked at my statement, and either my husband or i (can’t tell which) used one of our debit cards there 10-17. fraud occurred on my card 10-28. i found something else, too. i have another card that’s a credit card, and on 9-05, we made a purchase (i guess) there. the same day, there was a second purchase there and a refund of almost an identical amount to the second purchase, but off by about a dollar. that seems weird to me. why would we make two purchases there the same day and one refund? it’s not a place we shop often… i’m going to hopefully figure out what we bought and returned, and watch that card closely.

    that link to the article i posted about a similar occurrence in texas suggested that one person’s number was stolen up to three months before the major fraud occurred…

  2. The merchant charging a fee of $7.40 to my card: STD SOLUTIONS 800-4490299 DE. Same as other people have reported. Why someone needs to steal others money for phone companionship is beyond me.

  3. …at least one friend who was hit by credit card fraud never uses the machines….so my theory might not be a good one after all….

  4. Grace and sofiasabotage, I did not suggest that every card used at the Broadway QFC will be hijacked, nor that all identity thefts on Capitol Hill can be traced to that QFC.

    However, given the usage pattern of my wife’s card and mine, and the fact we both suffered identity theft, I would not be surprised if card usage at the Broadway QFC turns out to be a common element in many cases of this wave of credit card mutilation now sweeping Capitol Hill.

  5. My office friend who was hit in his Chase accounts and wanted to “help the investigation” has more information.

    He is very hard working and saves a lot. Frugal, greenie, smart as a whip. He went into Chase yesterday and talked to an honest nice guy at the bank. He was advised by Chase, talking truth, not PR, to close all of his Chase accounts to avoid future problems.

    The theory is that once your data is breached, problems may happen again. He moved his considerable saving all to another bank, where he has an account, so far not mentioned here, US Bank out of Portland.

    One honest banker it seems at Chase, the epic center of the local problems, it seems….. maybe linked to old systems from the former WaMu…..maybe, or the Russians like NYC money best of all.

    Does Chase process for B. Credit? Might.

    And the Axe is chipped after tonight wherein I was chopping steel.

    Mike the Grinder with chipped Axe

  6. the more i think about this, the more i think it’s a really good theory. i mean, it’s totally possible that there’s NOT a singular solution and that there are many sources of the fraud. but the fact that so many becu customers were hit when there’s a becu right next door lends itself strongly in support of the theory. what if we make a new spreadsheet and just tally how many people used their cards there this month?
    tally your fraud here:

    https://spreadsheets1.google.com/ccc?key=th1EekwMNmWydm0QJjO

    deleted the spreadsheet. it wasn’t yeilding meaningful results.

  7. i made one just to tally qfc-related fraud, since it sounds like a lot of people suspect qfc. it won’t be conclusive by means, but i’d be interested to know how many people used a card at qfc and experienced fraud, as well as how many people experienced fraud without the QFC link… and it’s is completely possible there are multiple sources, and it’s completely possibly that every person on capitol hill used their card at qfc. not a scientific poll by any means, but i think it will be good data to collect.

    https://spreadsheets1.google.com/ccc?key=th1EekwMNmWydm0QJjO

    okay, i deleted the spreadsheet. there are too many variables, anyway, and it wasn’t yielding anything significant.

  8. My BoA debit/check card number was used to purchase about $700 worth of liquor at various stores in the Bronx. I live in Cap Hill and got a call from BoA 10/25 as the purchases were being made. Luckily, they refunded my money without issue but these criminals got away with their charges. What gets me is that means there are that many people out there that would use these cards, or, perhaps they didn’t know?

  9. I got the same response when I called to file my report on Thursday. The officer didn’t really do or say anything except take my address and that my card had been compromised. They also wouldn’t let me tell them where I thought it had occurred. I get it’s speculation, but if everyone names the same place, that’s a lead, right? She also said they prefer to leave these matters up to the bank to handle. My tax dollars at work, i suppose.

  10. You may not like what he said but he’s right. the cop I filed my card number theft with was condescending and could care less this was happening. She even said they won’t spend time on this because the bank’s have more reason to take care of this situation. I just moved here and I can tel you they didn’t take it seriously, so maybe his axe to grind is legit. Don’t be so sensitive.

  11. My BOA debit/check card was used to buy lots of liquor in the Bronx. This card was sent to me by Bank of America about 2 months ago because they claimed my other card number had possibly been breached. So I only had this card for 2 months max and I only used it at 4 places in Cap Hill right on Broadway and one shady bar in Belltown, which is where i originally thought my number was stolen.

  12. Just saying – but – all this must make one wonder about so called on line security …. Chase and B of A are GIANT, define the word mega, banking chains with unlimited assets, half of the American population has connections to B of A, half.

    And they can’t control the problem. WOW. WOW.

    Most of us assumed better …. at least the banks move quickly to get the defrauded cash back, 100 per cent, a day or so.

    Thanks BLOG folks for being on this so well … prize winning effort, primo work.

    Signed: All cash this weekend.

  13. yesterday i logged in to check my bank balance and boom $5.10 from ‘std solutions’ called my bank (BoA) and they told me there wasnt much they can do since it hadnt gone through yet, but i immediately canceled that card and got a new one.

    i live in portland, but i was in capital hill a few months ago.
    i went to the QFC on broadway &a bar on the hill. i wonder if they’ve been gathering card info for awhile? :|

  14. I had a call a few days ago from my credit card company that they wanted to know if I had authorized a transaction. When I did not we went through and there were 3 other charges on there that were not mine. I recently traveled and thought someone at the airport might have got my info after the credit card company called. After seeing this blog I know it had to happen in capitol hill. It is very scary that this happened to so many of us. I will be calling the police today and maybe between all of us who report it they can find a common denominator. I mostly used my credit card on 15th and some local restaurants on Pike/Pine. I had borrowed my friends car last month and filled up on Broadway (which I never have used my card there before for gas since I don’t have a car). I hope they catch who is behind all of this and justice is served.

  15. at the end of that texas article i linked, one guy noticed a small charge that was reversed 3 months before the major fraud occurred. i wouldn’t be surprised if the sneaky thieves had been sitting on it for months collecting as much information as they can.

  16. girlvs…
    it is interesting about the BECU thing. i could not agree more that there are probably multiple fraud “set ups” going on. i have used the BECU atm within the last month but NOT with a BECU card. neither of my cards have been compromised. my other card has been used at the QFC on E. Republican almost on a daily basis. whereas, my husband has used his card at QFC and has been frauded. there is another place that he spent money at that i have not which makes us a little bit suspicious.

  17. Fraudulent charges were also found on my account: $500 at a Florida Wal*Mart. Luckily, the fraud department caught it and nothing was actually charged on my account. It’s weird, because while I live on the Hill, I have been out of town for a few weeks, but have purchased items online since I got back. I wonder if we are all going to find out we have the same internet provider.

  18. I was called by the Visa fraud division on Wednesday morning 10/27. They had already stopped my card after 3 charges in South Africa had appeared at a Pic n Pay totalling around $300. I’m not sure how many attempted charges were declined after they shut off my card. This was my Visa debit card and I bank with Salal Credit Union on 15th. I reported my case to the police on Wednesday evening.

  19. A bunch of my SU friends were telling me that this happened to them–then it happened to me. I smell a conspiracy!!…or a conspiracy begging to be made up!

  20. My checking and saving accounts from WSECU were emptied yesterday morning around 8:20 am. They spent all the money at a Walmart and Big Lots in Maryland. A hassle more than anything else.

  21. Just want to acknowledge BECU for being so on top of the situation, and to thank their employee who posted here. I bank with BECU, use my card all over the hill, including all day long at the QFC (I work nearby) and haven’t had any fraud show up. I feel like they are looking out for me. So thanks.

  22. So, AVOID the businesses of Capitol Hill… or pay cash.

    Personally, I think we should be told what businesses are being affected, and the editors of this site just doesn’t want to affect possible business to the community. With all the so-called data that is being collected, I can’t imagine there are places that have been hit multiple times… and we should know, so we can avoid them.

    What are you hiding????????????????

  23. Same thing happened to me on 2 different Chase Cards (1 a Credit Card on 10/26, the other a Debit/Credit Card just this morning, 10/31). Both had the STD Solutions debit / credit, after which additional out-of-state charges were made (Chase Credit caught the charges and declined them, but the debit card # let them go through – something sort of interesting is that there are 2 different fraud depts. for Chase Credit & Debit, which do not communicate with each other according to the Debit customer service rep.)
    I called to report these incidences to the Police thanks to the Seattle Post Globe article. The police rep I spoke to said that detectives are working on this, since there is a rash of them occuring here in the Cap Hill area.

    I am curious to know how many reports they’ve received now since the last figures released in the article.

  24. 10/28 2 purchases in the dominican republic (gas station and an inn) about $174

    WECU out of Bellingham, my BECU card has not been hit (yet..?) I use it less frequently

  25. It’s SPECIFICALLY the BECU ATM in the QFC BUILDING that has a commonality, not ‘the qfc.’ QFC uses automated card readers and you have to manually enter a pin or sign – there’s no way for a checker to save your information.

    The BECU on the other hand has no one paying attention to it, and someone could very easily have put a card reader into it. Also, one commonality is generally nothing but a gateway to a second, more accurate one – For example, most credit card numbers are stolen by restaurant workers. Did you get cash at the machine and then go upstairs to eat? Maybe your friend paid with a card. Maybe your card was compromised by the card reader when you went to get cash. There are too many variables.

  26. Hit with this last Tuesday. Someone in middle of nowhere Georgia at a Wal-Mart making a $200 charge to my card that Chase caught and reported to me. I also have a friend (Chase customer as well) out in Eastgate hit today for an $800 charge in Italy!

    This is ridiculous!

  27. I had my Verity CU credit/ATM card compromised on Friday 10/29 the charges appeared as follows:
    MOTO Support Lombard, West Virginia for $3.27
    STD Solutions Delaware for $5.90
    Grants Supermarket Dubai, AE for $40.16

    I live in Ballard and work in South Lake Union area.

    I have reported it to my financial institution and still need to report to the police.

  28. I got hit too this morning. My card got declined and I got a call from the fraud dept in my bank saying that my card was being used to purchase something from STD solutions. they gave me the 1800 number but it went to some singles service.

  29. I live in NY and was in Seattle for a week. I hung out in or around Capital Hill and Downtown area during my stay last month and just saw a transaction from STD SOLUTIONS on my Chase account, followed by multiple charges from grocery stores all over India. Luckily my card was canceled before any real damage could have been done.

    Odd this happened after my visit to Seattle and then I find this story online.

  30. BECU contacted me today (monday 11/1) about a charge that went through yesterday. They thieves cloned my card and somehow captured my pin.
    Nearly all my transactions take place at the Mill Creek BECU atm. There’s been two other credit union atm’s used over the past months.
    All the ATM’s were either BECU or affiliated credit union branch locations.
    No merchant purchases.
    The card was used in an ATM in the Lake Serene area.
    They are skimming data from ATM’s that you would think would be safe.

  31. So I have been in Mexico for the past week, and have not had access to my bank account or cell phone while down there…while I was trying to check my bags, my card got declined so I called my bank (BECU). I could only talk for a second since the charges were so high, but they told me that on the 28th there was a charge to my acct from STD Solutions, and a day later they tried to charge 400$ to Verizon. Lucky as soon as the first payment came through, they flagged it, because I was obviously in Mexico, and was not going to be using my card for anything but checking the bags on the last day. I need to call tomorrow and get everything sorted out…..luckly no charges though….

  32. I had the same thing happen to me a few days ago. Did they try to order anything online? Someone tried racking up $6k at wal-mart.com and newegg.com. At least two of the purchases were supposed to be sent to my house, which I found really puzzling. Were they hoping I wouldn’t be home so they could snatch and grab? They also had my email address and phone number, which made me believe it was online fraud.

  33. I don’t live on the hill, I live in Kentucky, but i visited the hill twice this year. I was there for a week or so in June and a week or so in August. Last week my bank caled and let me know they blocked $700 worth of fraudulent purchases from a Wal-Mart and McDonald’s. I went to Charlie’s and the Broadway Bar & Grill.

  34. My Bank of America debit card was attempted to be used at a Target in N.J. I have a friend in L.A. who was here in April and his Nordstrom debit card was attempted at a Target in California

  35. Chase called me last night to let me know they were noticing some fraudulent activities were going on in the last 12 hours. I looked and not only was the first one for $7.20 from STD Solutions (wtf?), the ones thereafter were ranging from $100-300 in ARGENTINA. I don’t think it’s a matter of where I shopped, I think it’s a matter of where I’m currently banking. :( I just want to know two things: how? and why?!

  36. I live in Portland and bank and actually work in the fraud department of US Bank. I had our fraud detection service call me today to let me know that they had blocked a fraudulent charge on my card– to STD solutions. I found this story by doing a google search on it. I have been to Capital Hill many times, but the most recent had to have been more than 4 months ago, so I have no idea if I was skimmed up there or somewhere down here.

  37. Someone charged a small amount for internet service on my card from IBM SWG then the charged about $25 to a C R Restaurants Inc in MAryland and them $103 to Walmart #2290 in Maryland also.

  38. My account had fraud charges and the first place was STD Solutions then a tobacco store in California. They tried 5 other places but the card was declined. I don’t live on Capitol Hill and I haven’t used my card there since June. This is crazy! I’m pretty sure they have to have an actual card with our numbers on them because they are purchasing things places that need cards; grocery stores, clothing stores, jewelry stores, etc.

  39. But Chase caught it and declined the payments. Also from a gas station, a children’s clothing store and a travel agency in Spain. Luckily all of it was declined, even though there was money in the account, which I’m not sure how they did that but thank goodness! STD Solutions was on their too.

  40. Just found charges on my online CHASE debit checking acct:

    Kiabi Europe ( France)
    Oriflame (Luxembourg)
    Alsa Enatcar ( Madrid)

    Please check your online statements!!

    I also have shopped at QFC Downtown Bellevue frequently in the last 2 weeks!

  41. I had three fraudulent charges from:
    1) ALSA-ENATCAR MADRID $44.91
    2) ORIFLAME.ES LUXEMBOURG $143.79
    3) KIABI EUROPE 59HEM $192.47
    I googled what these places were, and found the first to be a bus transportation service, the second is a cosmetics store, and the third is a clothing store.

    I have not been to Capitol Hill in months, and have only used my card in Bellevue. In the last 2 weeks, I’ve had multiple $1 movie rentals (REDBOX) from the machine at QFC Downtown Bellevue, and have made a grocery purchase there. Pumped gas at Arco Baypoint in Bellevue (by car dealerships) and got an Oil change at Jiffy Lube on N 20th Ave. in Bellevue. Other charges include Borders.com, and regular food places I frequent. I am a creature of habit, so it is a lot easier for me to catch these things. But this is the first time I’ve had this happen.

    When I called the Bellevue police to report it, the dispatcher really sounded like she could care less, because it wasn’t a life threatening emergency, and told me an officer will call me…but didn’t tell me when. I feel like calling these stores in Europe to report it to them, and they can possibly run their security tapes and see if they can find the culprit.

  42. the same thing happen to me i just find out my debit card were used this plays kiabi. and i dont know what to do what did you do?