Open your wallet. Take a look at the first credit card you see. Now look closer, past the large bank logo at the holograph, run your fingers over the embossed and silver tipped numbers and letters. Go ahead and flip it over and you may even have a special logo running through the signature block. With all these details in place, you may wonder how thieves make fake credit cards with the numbers stolen online and from discarded paperwork.

Surprisingly, with $10,000 worth of equipment and an afternoon a skilled credit card thief can turn a stack of blank plastic cards into a piece of plastic that looks and feels just like a real credit card, and more importantly works like one too.

Wired caught up with Bob Watts of the Newport Beach Police who was part of the team that busted Christopher Aragon in 2008 for committing more than $1 million in credit card fraud.


After making a fake credit card, and a driver's license to match, the criminals went on shopping sprees for items easily fenced for cash. They had to be quick about it, before the card was maxed out or fraud was detected by the original cardholder.

A big part of the fraud process is that the criminals are able to take advantage of the delay between your use of the card and the posting of the chargel. Personally, I have one card which e-mails me the details of every transaction as soon as it is processed and text alerts set up on another for purchases over a certain level. Many banks and credit card companies offer a similar service found under profile or settings.


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