From Brian Kreb’s “An Odyssey of Fraud” (The Washington Post: 17 June 2009):
Andy Kordopatis is the proprietor of Odyssey Bar, a modest watering hole in Pocatello, Idaho, a few blocks away from Idaho State University. Most of his customers pay for their drinks with cash, but about three times a day he receives a phone call from someone he’s never served — in most cases someone who’s never even been to Idaho — asking why their credit or debit card has been charged a small amount by his establishment.
Kordopatis says he can usually tell what’s coming next when the caller immediately asks to speak with the manager or owner.
“That’s when I start telling them that I know why they’re calling, and about the Russian hackers who are using my business,” Kordopatis said.
The Odyssey Bar is but one of dozens of small establishments throughout the United States seemingly picked at random by organized cyber criminals to serve as unwitting pawns in a high-stakes game of chess against the U.S. financial system. This daily pattern of phone calls and complaints has been going on for more than a year now. Kordopatis said he has talked to the company that processes his bar’s credit card payments about fixing the problem, but says they can’t do anything because he hasn’t actually lost any money from the scam.
The Odyssey Bar’s merchant account is being abused by online services that cyber thieves built to help other crooks check the balances and limits on stolen credit and debit card account numbers.