Credit-card and debit-card breach investigated in Rockingham

It’s unclear exactly what is going on, except for this part of things – around three dozen people with ties to the McGaheysville area in one way or another have had their credit-card or debit-card accounts breached in the past three months.
This news got to me first from a reader who lives in Massanutten who believes based on what happened to him and what he was told by security personnel at the Massanutten Ski Resort that the resort has been investigating the breach dating back to last month.

I got in touch with the resort to try to find out what they could tell me there next. The marketing and business relations manager at Massanutten, Sarah Elson, told me flat out that “there is no investigation ongoing.” “It’s actually a nationwide issue,” Elson said, not saying directly but alluding to the ongoing national news regarding Heartlands Payment Systems, a credit-card and debit-card payment processing company that announced on Jan. 20 that its processing systems had been breached last year.

That seemed worthy of checking, so I focused my digging there. I’m not sure based on what I’ve found to this writing that we’re necessarily talking about the same things. The Heartlands story has affected thousands of consumers across the country, sure, but to date only Virginia banking institution, a credit union in Danville, has reported itself as having been caught up in the Heartlands web.

I then called the FBI office in Richmond, which in turn shoved me off to the Secret Service office in Roanoke. Nothing other than the standard “we’ll look into it” from either. And then I talked with Sgt. Felicia Glick at the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office, which as it turns out put out a news release on this yesterday that had escaped my attention. I was on the phone today with Sgt. Glick to find out what she could tell me about what the office is treating for now at least as a localized matter.

“Some people have said that they have narrowed it down to a database that was stolen back during the presidential inauguration. But we have had cases as early as back in November and as recent as yesterday. We’re finding that there’s not a simple answer to it,” Glick said, herself making a reference to the Heartlands story, not necessarily ruling it out, because the inauguration detail isn’t what it has become in the popular culture, that the database was stolen on Inauguration Day, just that the company chose Inauguration Day to release the information. You know, to perhaps try to put the news out when the public’s attention might be on something else.

I next asked Glick about any Massanutten connection. “The one seemingly common factor in a lot of the cases is that they used their cards at businesses at McGaheysville and in the McGaheysville area,” the sergeant said, again not necessarily ruling out the notion that there is something specific to Massanutten at play here. I will say here that information from other sources is seeming to corroborate that original contention from the reader who tipped us off to this earlier this week. I will also say here that Elson from Massanutten wants to dispel that notion on behalf of the resort.

“There are just hundreds of establishments where people use their credit cards, and to us, and our viewpoint, it’s pretty unfair to allege that Massanutten is the source of that. And there is no proof of that at all,” Elson said, and she is right, that there is no proof of what is being said about Massanutten at this point.

“We don’t know what’s going on, but we’re kind of leaving up to the credit-card fraud departments and the law-enforcement professionals to figure it out,” Elson said. “Obviously we’re going to remain vigilant. But from our end we don’t see that any of that has occurred,” Elson said.

Fair enough. Glick mentioned one other thing to me that I thought to be of interest. “One caller asked their bank when they reported it to their bank, Should we call the police? And they said, No, that’s not necessary. We’re really asking people that if they have been a victim of this to please give us a call and let us know,” Glick said.

I think that to be appropriate as well. If you have been a victim of credit-card or debit-card fraud in Rockingham County in recent weeks, please call the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office at 540.564.3800.

 

– Story by Chris Graham


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