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Local bank patrons report fraudulent charges
Secret Service investigating incidents
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  The United States Secret Service is investigating a rash of financial transaction fraud incidents affecting customers of several area banks.
    Bulloch County Sheriff’s Inv. Jared Akins said “something about the incidents” alerted the Secret Service, which is looking into a handful of reports from Statesboro and Bulloch County residents regarding unauthorized charges to their bank accounts.
    Statesboro Police Major Scott Brunson said reports began coming in Monday and Tuesday, with customers of several different banks reporting finding mysterious charges on their bank accounts, made in various other states.
    Det. Sgt. James Winskey is handling local investigations of those incidents, he said.
    Akins said reports have been submitted by customers of First Southern National Bank, Heritage Bank of the South, Sea Island bank, Farmers and Merchants Bank, CORE Credit Union and The Heritage Bank. The reports began appearing in the sheriff’s department files over the weekend, he said.
    Charges have been made in Kentucky, Virginia, Ohio and New York, at several different locations including Walmart stores and carnival food vendors, according to reports.
    “We do not know the connection yet (to the various victims) but the Secret Service will make more headway (with investigations, due to federal resources),” he said.
    Banks are working with victims, and since they usually do not hold their customers liable for theft, “the banks are really the victims,” he said.
    Brunson suggested citizens “monitor their accounts closely, especially if they have online capabilities. Watch for abnormal charges or deductions, changes you did not make.”
    Akins also suggested monitoring credit reports to ensure someone has not used your information to open accounts.
    He said it is yet unknown how the offenders are accessing victim’s information. “If it were just one bank, we could suspect the servers,” but since there are different banks involved, investigators are still looking for answers.
    Anyone with information about the incidents is asked to contact either the Statesboro Police at (912) 764-9911 or Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office at (912) 764-8888.

Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

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