Credit card fraud at St. Louis-area Schnucks

Friday, March 29, 2013

MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. -- Shoppers at Schnucks supermarkets are being encouraged to pay with cash or checks until a credit card fraud problem is resolved.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported investigators have received several complaints about credit card fraud linked to Schnucks stores. In some cases, transactions reached thousands of dollars.

Schnucks spokesman Paul Simon said the reports to date have been limited to the St. Louis area, but the company is investigating "companywide."

Dennis Marchi, general manager of the Cape Girardeau Schnucks store, told the Southeast Missourian he had not heard any reports of fraud connected to the local store.

Terry Praechter of Barnhart, Mo., used a credit card earlier this month at Schnucks. Days later, the card used by Praechter and her husband was shut down when the credit card company flagged questionable transactions, Praechter said. She said she had a $1,500 balance on the card previously.

"It was $700 here, $500 there ... my balance was $10,006," she said. "They ran it up that much in two days."

Schnuck Markets Inc., based in St. Louis suburb Maryland Heights, said it hired an outside forensics company to investigate.

"Schnucks became aware on March 15 that some customers had noticed unauthorized charges on their card statements for credit cards they used at Schnucks. Schnucks immediately began to investigate those reports and has engaged outside experts," the company said in a statement.

Maryland Heights detective Sean Fanning cites at least 30 reports of unauthorized credit card charges, mostly from people who recently shopped at Schnucks. Many of the charges were at out-of-state big box stores.

The Missouri Attorney General's office also is reviewing complaints from consumers, spokeswoman Nanci Gonder said.

Domingo Rivera of AVM Technology, a Virginia-based firm that performs forensic investigations for breached companies, said breaches occur in various ways.

"Sometimes you have an insider or an employee who may know where the database is stored, or someone may just stumble onto it online," he said. "There are so many vectors, but insiders are very common."

Southeast Missourian staff writer Shay Alderman contributed to this report.

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