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DOJ Announces Crackdown on Networks That Steal Money from Consumer Accounts and Use Fraudulent “Microtransactions” to Hide the Activity from Banks – Includes a South Lake Tahoe Man and a Poway CA
December 16, 2023 - The Justice Department announced on Friday a collection of cases against fraud networks that steal money from consumers and use deceptive tactics to conceal illicit activity from financial institutions, thereby allowing that illicit activity to continue. The cases include two civil actions unsealed in the past week seeking temporary restraining orders and the appointment of receivers to stop defendants from dissipating assets.
The civil cases announced on Friday form part of a larger crackdown by the department’s Consumer Protection Branch designed to halt networks of fraudsters that use misrepresentations or unauthorized charges to steal money from consumers’ financial accounts. Fraudsters and their accomplices often hide these unauthorized charges using so-called “microtransactions” or “microdebits,” which group the unauthorized charges with a large number of low-value, straw transactions to lower the fraudster’s chargeback rate. A chargeback is a transaction that is refused or reversed by an account holder’s bank. Because a high chargeback rate can lead to account scrutiny or closure, using microtransactions to artificially reduce the chargeback rate masks the underlying fraud scheme.