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Local Debit Card Scam

By: Erika Kurre Email
By: Erika Kurre Email

You may have heard a rumor that LaBamba Mexican Cafe on Ross Clark Circle in Dothan could be a key player in a Wiregrass debit card scam.

Our newsroom has received emails about this for weeks now.

Several of our viewers have been victimized and there's no clear answer on who is responsible.

Lisa Towns first noticed she was scammed about a month ago. She went to use her debit card and was repeatedly declined.

After checking her account online, she found more than $700 dollars had been taken from her account and billed as far away as Linda Vista, Mexico.

That's when she filed a report with a sheriff's investigator. "I found a receipt where we went back in November and I faxed it to her. And she told me that at that time, all the reports that had been filed had been linked to LaBamba."

The sheriff's department is currently looking into several reports of the same type of theft where people use their debit cards and end up with multiple charges in the western United States and Mexico.

So far however, there is no proof that LaBamba is the main source, or the only source of the identity theft. Investigators say so far, it could just be coincidence that all the victims once ate there.

Sheriff Andy Hughes of the Houston County Sheriff's Office said, "I don't think it's any one place that this identity theft is occurring. It's several different establishments in our area. But I do think it's an organized effort by a group of individuals who actually steal people's identity and use it to profit from."

Owner Martin Morales of the LaBamba Mexican Café said, "I don't know why they picked LaBamba and not Wal-Mart, which I'm sure all those cards have been used at Wal-Mart. But for some reason, we got brought up and we're willing to do whatever we can to clear our name."

No suspects have been named yet in this scam, but investigators believe the scam artists are employees at the suspected establishments.

No other suspected business names are being released at this point.

So a quick tip: only use your debit or credit cards where you can witness the transaction and when in doubt, pay with cash.

Anyone with information on this debit card scam, should call Crime Stoppers to give an anonymous tip at 793-7000.


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