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Secret Service takes over fraud case

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The U.S. Secret Service is investigating a case involving credit card information stolen from people who used a car wash in Franklin.

The thefts involve a possible case of skimming devices being placed on card scanners, allowing credit or debit card information to be stolen.

The fraud was happening around the country at many locations, so the Secret Service took over the investigation, said Lt. Pete Ketchum, the Franklin Police Department officer assigned to the local case.

Since the federal task force is handling the case, he no longer is investigating and cannot answer questions about it, Ketchum said. Secret Service agents out of Indianapolis declined to comment.

The Secret Service has agents who specialize in electronic crimes, and the organization uses ongoing research into new devices, operating systems and cellphone technologies to aid them in investigations, according to the Secret Service website.

The Franklin Police Department started investigating the case after someone illegally collected numbers from at least 13 credit and debit cards used in Franklin and made purchases out of state. All 13 of the card owners had paid for car washes at a Franklin car wash in March or April.

Franklin police suspected someone used a skimming device, which can be placed onto a credit card reader without a business’s knowledge and can copy information from swiped cards to steal the numbers. Police did not find a skimming device on the machine used for paying for car washes.

The device could have been removed by the thieves.

Or the credit card information could have been stolen other ways, such as by someone hacking into a credit card processing system, Ketchum said Thieves used the card numbers to create duplicate cards and started making purchases in May, when charges the card owners didn’t make were showing up from stores in California, Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania. The fraudulent purchases were as small as $6 and as much as $200.

In May, a total of $837 was spent using six of the cards that had paid for a car wash in Franklin.

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