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Police Probe 'Intriguing' Credit Card Fraud

The Salt Lake Tribune -- Police in American Fork are investigating an elaborate case of credit card fraud that appears to be a lot of effort for little reward. The scam began on Wednesday and involves a florist, a hotel, a cab driver and Western Union. American Fork police Lt. Andrew Hale said a florist in a northern Utah County town, that Hale would not identify, received an out of state call from a man who said a business associate of his would be spending the night in a Provo hotel and the caller would like to have some flowers waiting for him when he arrived, along with a cash gift of a little more than $ 1,000. The caller gave the florist a credit card number that was later found to be from a stolen card. But at the time of the call the florist cleared the card and sent the cash and bouquet of flowers to the hotel. The items were placed in a room reserved for the Japanese businessperson, who was expected to check in later on Wednesday. Hale would not identify the hotel because of the ongoing investigation. After the delivery, a man called the Yellow Cab Co. in Provo and said some flowers and an envelope were in a hotel room reserved for a person who had cancelled the reservation, and he was wondering if a cab driver would go to the hotel, collect the flowers and envelope and take them to a Western Union representative in Provo. The caller added he would make it worth the time of any driver who would do the errand. When a cab driver arrived at the hotel, he gave the clerk the correct room number and explained his instructions. The reservation had been cancelled and the driver was let in the room to retrieve the items. At the Western Union office, the cab driver was paid out of the cash in the envelope he turned over to a clerk, and the remainder of the money was wired to a location in another state that Hale also would not reveal. On Thursday, the florist contacted police when he or she learned the card was not valid. Hale said in some cases like this, the credit card company would absorb the loss. Hale calls the case a unique and complicated version of an old trick using stolen credit card numbers. "People can get a number a lot of ways, including Dumpster diving," he said. "Most the time it's limited to Internet [fraud]." Hale said the investigation is still trying to determine who picked up the cash once it was wired out of Utah. All the calls to the florist, hotel, cab company and Western Union were placed by a man, but Hale said it is not known if it was the same person. American Fork police are investigating the crime along with the U.S. Secret Service because it is a wire-fraud case involving more than one state. "It is one of the most intriguing credit card fraud cases we have seen in a while," said Hale.

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