Here’s a fun parlor game to play while you’re stuck inside on a snow day—have everyone guess what this phrase means:
Make Up. Pump Up. Run Up.
The winner of this game would be the one who guesses that it’s a strategy for committing credit card fraud. First, you make up consumer identities. Then, you pump up their credit profiles. Finally, you run up their credit cards to the limit before leaving it behind for credit card companies to deal with.
That, according to the Justice Department and FBI, is exactly what an international credit card fraud syndicate did, racking up over $200 million in debt (and counting), The Daily Beast reported on Thursday.
In what an FBI agent involved in the case called an “extensive, sophisticated, organized scheme,” a ring of 18 people (and counting) allegedly created 80 fake companies, more than 1,800 mailing addresses, 7,000 false identities and 25,000 credit cards. The fraud spanned at least 8 countries (including Pakistan, India, China, Romania and Japan), and at least 28 states.
Only 13 people named in the indictment have been arrested so far—one is out of the country and three are missing. More indictments will probably follow, and more discovered losses. The scheme is one of the largest ever uncovered by the U.S. Justice Department.
So will this affect you? It’s possible that credit card companies left holding the bag could pass on those costs to customers in the form of higher interest rates. Or, you could be personally affected if the fraudsters used your social security number or name to create a fake persona.
So, now is a good time to check your credit score.