St. Louis-area Schnucks customers report credit card fraud

Thursday, March 28, 2013 | 4:03 p.m. CDT

MARYLAND HEIGHTS — Shoppers at Schnucks grocery stores are being encouraged to pay with cash or checks until a credit card fraud problem is resolved.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Thursday that investigators have received several complaints about credit card fraud linked to Schnucks stores. In some cases, transactions reached the thousands of dollars.

Terry Praechter of Barnhart used a credit card earlier this month at Schnucks. Days later, the card used by Praechter and her husband was shut down when the credit card company flagged questionable transactions, Praechter said. She said she had a $1,500 balance on the card previously.

"It was $700 here, $500 there ... my balance was $10,006," she said. "They ran it up that much in two days."

Schnuck Markets Inc., based in St. Louis suburb Maryland Heights, said it hired an outside forensics company to investigate.

"Schnucks became aware on March 15 that some customers had noticed unauthorized charges on their card statements for credit cards they used at Schnucks. Schnucks immediately began to investigate those reports and has engaged outside experts," the company said in a statement.

Maryland Heights detective Sean Fanning cited at least 30 reports about unauthorized credit card charges, mostly from people who recently shopped at Schnucks. Many of the charges were at out-of-state big box stores.

The Missouri attorney general's office is also reviewing complaints from consumers, spokeswoman Nanci Gonder said.

Domingo Rivera of AVM Technology, a Virginia firm that performs forensic investigations for breached companies, said breaches occur in various ways.

"Sometimes you have an insider or an employee who may know where the database is stored, or someone may just stumble onto it online," he said. "There are so many vectors, but insiders are very common."

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