FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Major Lafayette Woods, Jr.
Operation Commander/Public Information Officer
SHERIFF'S OFFICE WARNS MERCHANTS OF CREDIT/DEBIT CARD SCHEME: Jefferson County, Arkansas - January 9, 2015 – Recently the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office learned of a suspect’s attempt to defraud merchants at area businesses by attempting to take advantage of a particular type of credit/ debit card transaction known as a “forced sale,” which is used from time to time in regular business dealings and is described briefly below.
Ordinarily, when a merchant swipes a credit or debit card, a computerized check is performed to determine whether the account associated with the card is valid. If the account is open and funds are available, the transaction goes through; if the account is closed or funds are unavailable, the transaction is denied. If the transaction is denied, a merchant has two choices: ask the customer for another card, or perform a “forced sale” using the declined card. During a typical forced sale, the merchant calls the card issuer (i.e., the customer’s bank or credit card company) and receives an authorization code. The merchant types the code into the credit card terminal and “forces” the transaction, essentially overriding the denial and allowing the sale to go through. At some later date, the merchant and the card issuer settle the outstanding charge.
But for technical reasons relating to the forced sale process, it does not actually matter what code the merchant types into the terminal. Any combination of digits will override the denial. So long as the customer provides a fake authorization code and convinces the merchant to enter it into the terminal, the transaction will go through. The merchant is unlikely to discover the fraud until days or weeks later.
A black male, who entered a local jewelry store and presented the merchant with an Arkansas driver’s license bearing the name Decario Martez Walter, date of birth February 26th, 1990 attempted to purchase a watch using a Pay Pal Master Card. When the transaction was declined the black male contacted another unidentified person with his cell phone. After a brief phone conversation with the person, Walter then handed to phone to the merchant. According to the merchant, he was told that the account was fixed and that the purchase would go through if the sales person would enter the numbers provided by him or her after swiping the card again. The merchant knew this was not proper bank procedures and refused the purchase. According to the merchant, Walter became visibly nervous and immediately left the business.
However, a short time later Walter entered a second business and attempted to purchase a Rolex watch using a Boost Mobile Pre-Pay card. The merchant stated that Walter became visibly nervous after a uniformed law enforcement officer entered the business. Walter left the business immediately following the arrival of the officer. No attempt to purchase the watch with the Boost Mobile card was made. Walter departed the parking lot of the business in a dark colored 4 door passenger vehicle; unknown make, model, or license plate number.