[ISN] Computer-savvy crooks steal cards, charge up

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Fri Aug 14 1998 - 16:38:57 PDT

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    Computer-savvy crooks steal cards, charge up
    WASHINGTON (AP) -- High-tech thieves rang up international charges of
    almost $1 million on the debit cards of members of a Washington-area
    credit union by using computers to guess account numbers, The Washington
    Post reported today. 
    Sophisticated computer programs apparently analyzed sample credit card
    numbers, then generated ones that turned out to be valid about half the
    time, said Mark Cis, vice president of corporate property and casualty for
    CUMIS Insurance Society, a credit union insurer that has investigated the
    Officials told the newspaper they have corrected a security oversight that
    allowed charges to be made to accounts at the Alexandria, Va.-based
    Transportation Federal Credit Union. It serves retired and current
    employees of the U.S.  Transportation Department, the Federal Aviation
    Administration and Blue Cross-Blue Shield of the National Capitol Area. 
    The Post report that a source close to the investigation said an Asian
    organized crime group, which has hit other credit unions in the United
    States, appeared to be behind the fraud. 
    Security experts minimized the threat to national banks and other large
    institutions with large staffs and budgets devoted to protecting accounts.
    Credit unions tend to be smaller, with fewer resources. 
    ``The crooks have gone (after) less secure installations, and those tend
    to be credit unions,'' Cis said. 
    The credit unions said fewer than half of its 2,600 card holders were
    victims of fraudulent charges; none will be held responsible for the
    The fraud involved Visa check cards, a kind of credit card allowing
    merchants to deduct funds directly from a cardholder's account for a
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