Robins credit card fraud reports rising

More Middle Georgia residents have filed reports of credit card compromises affecting employees at Robins Air Force Base.

A total of 40 residents have filed complaints since Friday, an increase of 10 since Tuesday afternoon, said Tabitha Pugh, spokeswoman for the Warner Robins Police Department. At least 11 residents have filed reports of credit card compromises with the Houston County Sheriff’s office since Friday, according to incident logs.

The actual scope of the issue is unknown because base officials will not say how many people at Robins have had their credit or debit cards compromised.

The known complaints include customers of Bank of America, as well as Robins Federal Credit Union on base, and BB&T bank and MidSouth Federal Credit Union in Warner Robins.

Robins employees have had their checking accounts used to make purchases across the country and even in Australia in the past week, Pugh said.

Sherrie Wallace, a contractor on base with an account at Robins Federal Credit Union, found out Friday that someone had charged $796 to her Visa debit card from a Best Buy in Los Angeles.

“I’ve got six or seven friends I work with that have been hit,” she said.

Robins spokesman John Birdsong said in a Wednesday afternoon e-mail that “snack bars and (the) base restaurant are not accepting credit/debit cards at this time.”

Wallace, who has her paycheck directly deposited into her bank account, doubted the base’s shops are the source of the compromises.

“The only time I’ve used (my card) on base is at the credit union at the ATM machine,” she said.

Warner Robins and Houston County law enforcement officials as well as Robins law enforcement personnel are investigating the string of credit card compromises, though it’s not altogether clear how they are cooperating.

Birdsong said “members from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI) and Security Forces are working closely with members of the Warner Robins Police Department to aggressively investigate the matter.”

However, there does not seem to be a lead investigator who is coordinating efforts between the base and local law enforcement officials.

“Whoever reports to us and files a police report, that’s what we investigate,” Pugh said. She added there is no investigation “as far as any broader scope.”

Sgt. Ronnie Harlowe, who is investigating the compromises that have been reported to the Houston County Sheriff’s Office, said he has not “personally spoken with anyone on base regarding this.”

To contact writer Thomas L. Day, call 744-4489.