People are considered fraud accomplice when they knowingly benefit from identity theft whether directly or indirectly. There have been increasing reports of identity fraud and consumer complicity at nation’s gas stations. With rising gas prices and tight consumer budgets, identity theft criminals are benefiting big time from identity fraud by partnering with gas buyers, while consumers are more willing to jump on the identity theft bandwagon and share the fraud rewards with the criminals. Identity theft fraudsters take advantage of the financially vulnerable to complete their identity theft plans.
Once consumer identity is stolen, a plan of action is needed to transition the stolen identity to the fraud phase. One way to make quick fraud money is to buy consumer goods with stolen identities and then turn around and sell the goods for less to willing buyers. With rising gas prices and tighter budgets, consumers are more willing to get into the fraud action and get cheap gas at the expense of identity theft victims, thus becoming fraud accomplice in the process.
It’s reported that identity thieves look for gas buyers at the gas stations after they have stolen the credit cards of innocent people. They approach the gas buyers and offer cheap gas if paid in cash. Once the buyers agree to the purchase price which is usually half the reported price per gallon, the fraudsters then proceed to buying gas with the stolen credit cards.
It’s hard to imagine that gas buyers don’t suspect any wrongdoing. I think they know exactly what they’re getting into although they might be thinking they’re not the ones who stole the credit cards and can’t be liable for the fraud. However, the truth is far from what they think. If consumers knowingly benefit from identity theft, they effectively become fraud accomplice. People become criminals when they help execute a crime even though they did not help plan the crime. As they say in Hollywood, they become the stars behind the cameras.
Next time you are offered cheap gas at the expense of someone else, just say no and avoid fraud complicity. Not only it could be your credit card that criminals are using to buy free gas next time they visit a gas station, but we all pay for the consequences of identity fraud. Even though consumer credit card liability is limited to just $50 in case of credit card fraud, we all end up sharing the fraud cost one way or another. Not only we have to spend time and work with the banks to establish fraud existence, banks will pass the cost of fraud to their consumers in more than one creative way. If you ever think banks will assume the total cost of credit card fraud while your initial liability is just $50, think again. Banking and credit cards are big business and the limited credit card fraud liability is just another gimmick to attract and retain more credit card customers while fraud costs are passed on to consumer through interest rates and unknown fees on credit card statements.