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DL police pinpoint location of credit card fraud

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news Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Local law enforcement officials are closing in on the wave of credit card fraud that hit Detroit Lakes late last month.

Detroit Lakes Police Investigator Eric Bergren says they have identified the source of the compromise that led to over 250 fraudulent credit card charges in the lakes area.

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"That compromise has been addressed and taken care of, so right now the second aspect of the case is trying to identify the person or persons responsible for that compromise," said Bergren.

Detroit Lakes Police are working with banks, fraud departments and the U.S. Secret Service in trying to track down the perpetrators.

Bergren says although most people associate the Secret Service with presidential or dignitary protection, they are also heavily involved in fraud cases involving banks and commerce.

Although many of the local fraud victims happen to bank at Bremer Bank, Bergren says the compromise was not at the bank level — it occurred at a local business.

"I'm not ready to release what business yet because we are still investigating, but as soon as we get all of the information we need, we'll give it to the public," he said.

Although Bergren says the fraud cases have now stopped locally, he warns the newest Target cases are similar to the one that hit Detroit Lakes and warns residents to continue checking their credit card statements and report any suspicious activity to their financial institutions immediately.

"And there are different security packages that banks and credit cards offer, so I would probably look into something like that," said Bergren, who says to his knowledge, all the fraud victims in the Detroit Lakes area did get reimbursed from their banks.

Staying vigilant

It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but law enforcement officials warn that it's also the time of year when real-live grinches are ready to steal.

Detroit Lakes Police Chief Tim Eggebraaten says 'tis the time of year when crime tends to spike.

"We usually see more thefts right around now," said Eggebraaten, "Thefts from grocery stores and shopping centers, unattended purses and vehicles left unlocked."

Eggebraaten says he believes the financial pressures of the holidays can drive people to steal when the opportunity is there.

"It's nothing highly sophisticated, it's more crimes of opportunity," said Eggebraaten, who warns residents to be vigilant of their own items and don't carry large amounts of cash around.

He adds that the police department also sees a spike in domestic disputes this time of year.

"Especially if we get a cold snap that hangs on for an extended period of time, people get cooped up together inside and can start arguing about bills racking up, and it's a high pressure time," said Eggebraaten. "And I think the shortness of daylight hours has an effect on people's mental and emotional status that can play a part in it, too."

Eggebraaten also says although gas prices are relatively low right now, he still expects to see more drive offs.

"But I know I've heard that gas station attendants are on high alert around here; they've got their binoculars ready," he said.

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