PORTLAND, Ore. — Cyber thieves stole the company debit card number from Pip's Original Doughnuts & Chai, a coffee cafe in Northeast Portland, and used it to spend $25,000 in less than an hour.
Owner Nate Snell said he found about the charges on Monday, after a call from his credit union.
“I actually received a call from my credit union’s fraud division about a charge they were thinking was potentially illegitimate,” Snell said. “It turns out it was a real charge of an itemized purchase.”
That call got him thinking, though, and he went online to check his account.
“I logged on and was blown away to see there were literally four pages of charges, accruing literally, by the minute, from places all over the world," he said.
Included in the charges were plane tickets to Fiji, custom jewelry and even 500 pounds of pet food from a Georgia Petco. Snell says he has no idea how the thieves got the debit card information, and all of his personal information, too.
“Obviously, you feel really vulnerable when you realize you’re so exposed,” Snell said. “To have this hit so close to home, literally at home with my family, which are my employees, is devastating.”
Snell says he frantically called his credit union to stop the charges. He said they are working on it, but for now the $25,000 is ‘frozen’ in the account. Snell said he’s lucky he has a savings account to draw from to pay his employees.
Snell understands other businesses or personal individuals might not have that luxury. Which is why he has this message.
“I think it’s really important, as I talk with several security specialists about this, and got some background information, don’t use your debit card for any type of recurring charges," Snell said. "Don’t use it for utilities. Don’t use it for PayPal. Don’t store it anywhere where people can access it.
"Once they access it, the ease at which they can jump in, worldwide, and compromise your account? You’re making it so easy on them to take advantage of you," he said.
Snell said at this point he doesn’t want to name the credit union as they working to help him. He said he will get that $25,000 back eventually but it’s going to take time, and he’s so glad he caught the fraudulent charges when he did.