KYUK AM

Bethel AC Racks Up Fraudulent Credit Card Charges

Jun 27, 2016

Alaska Commercial Company in Bethel
Credit Dean Swope / KYUK

What if someone were using your credit card at the same grocery store where you shop? Would you notice? Especially if the charges were similar to what you spend? Someone in Bethel seems to have guessed no and allegedly racked up a series of fraudulent charges at AC, the Alaska Commercial Company.

  

“Okay, so this is a copy of some of a couple of the transactions that I have,” Dane Lenaker said, pulling out some papers.

Lenaker lives in Bethel, and like many people, he regularly shops at AC. So when AC appears on his credit card statement, he usually glances over it. But two weeks ago a co-worker posted to Facebook that she’d been receiving charges at AC she hadn’t made. So Dane took a closer look at his statement.

“It was the out of town thing that made a real red flag for me,” he said.

Lenaker had traveled to Arizona in April, but his statement has charges from AC during that time. Later he went to Aniak, and the same thing happened. And that wasn’t the only thing that raised his suspicions.

“When I called this particular credit card company about this transaction,” Lenaker said, “it said the transaction was placed by the number being punched. So this was manually entered, apparently at AC.”

Lenaker had the credit card company pull all the transactions that’d been manually entered on that card. Three charges showed up he hadn’t made. And if the Facebook post hadn’t tipped him off, he says he probably wouldn’t have noticed. Each purchase fell between $40 to $105.

“But you can spend $105 at AC if you get a couple avocados and some lettuce,” Lenaker said with a slight laugh.

Lenaker canceled his card, filed a police report, and called AC.  He talked with Seth Madole, Bethel AC manager.

“After speaking with Dane and getting the times and dates of his transactions on his bank statement, I’ve been able to look at the video camera,” Madole said.

“Come to find out,” Madole continued, “I have six different credit cards that have reported fraudulent transactions. And the signature on the receipts are all the same, and I have this individual on my camera system.”

Madole says the individual is wearing the same coat in every transaction and is manually punching in a card number each time. Overall the person allegedly spent $1,500, starting in April.

Madole filed a police report on Friday and says he’s removing the option to manually punch-in card numbers from the registers. Customers will need a card-in-hand or cash to purchase items.

Lenaker says he also received fraudulent charges at AC Quickstop and is beginning the same reporting process there.