Best Buy Employee Arrested For Using Customer Credit Cards

A Customer Associate for a Best Buy in Las Cruces, New Mexico, was indicted on Thursday for credit card fraud—three counts of making fraudulent purchases over $2500, three counts of making fraudulent purchases over $500, over 20 counts of falsely signing credit card slips, and 1 count of disposing of stolen property.

Amanda Hopkins used credit info from six customers to “make numerous purchases on their accounts” between October 2007 and April 2008. The local Fox affiliate says that Best Buy has issued the affected customers new cards and given them gift certificates.

“Las Cruces Best Buy Employee Accused Of Shopping With Customers’ Credit Cards” [KFOXTV]
(Photo: Getty)

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  1. ChuckECheese says:

    Despite all the haters on Consumerist, it looks like some people like to shop at Best Buy.

  2. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Best Buy operates over 1,200 stores. Thank God only 1 rogue sales associate has thought of this scam.

  3. HAL1300 says:

    @ChuckECheese: Yeah the criminals that work there and the suckers that get store credit cards.

  4. Byzantine says:

    Do large retail companies have any safety measures to prevent this kind of stuff *before* it happens?

  5. Dyscord says:

    I don’t think they have any safety measures in place. The article says they’re taking measures to prevent it…..at least they’re not “taking it seriously”

  6. AgentTuttle says:

    Reminds me of the time a Key Largo hotel stole several card numbers from us. “We” were the CSI:Miami film crew. Dumb asses, don’t they know some of the producers were CSI cops? Or that we were all together and maybe a large group would figure it out? Some people…

  7. JulesNoctambule says:

    @AgentTuttle: ‘You mean a show about cops might involve REAL cops on the staff?? Dude, bummer!’

    That particular crime was so ill-targeted it’s almost hilarious.

  8. pixiegirl1 says:

    I think most if not all retail stores have no “safety measures” in place. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a store that puts credit card apps in a secure area more often than not they just put them in a file/tray with other odds and sods where any employee can walk away with your private information if they felt like it. Hell even putting it in the register is better than just dumping it in some tray that every employee has access too.

  9. pixiegirl1 says:

    @AgentTuttle: That is awesome! I wish I could have seen their faces when they got arrested!

  10. jbeeching says:

    I had this happen to me at Office Depot a few months back- I just assumed this happened all the time. I’ve since moved and the State of Florida is going to have to fly me in to testify against the guy. This doesn’t go on all the time?…

  11. Helpful tips:
    Guard your mail and shred your trash.
    Don’t give out confidential information over the phone.
    Secure your personal information at home.

    Wow! These sure are helpful and relevant tips. Especially number 2, which totally could have prevented me from opening two unwanted American Express cards when I applied for them over the phone.

  12. Mr_Mantastic says:

    You would think that after numerous posts regarding Best Buy and Circuit City, people would learn and shop somewhere else, like online. It’s worth waiting a few more days to save money and not have to worry about dealing with your bags getting illegally checked when you leave the store, among other things. Just hope that USPS doesn’t throw your newly purchased LCD TV on your front porch.

  13. Quatre707 says:

    I don’t think people realize that any employee of any retail store which has credit card applications can simply open a file cabinet in their stores office and pull out years worth of customer credit card numbers, social security numbers, and every last piece of personal information about a person.

  14. purplesun says:

    @Quatre707: That’s not true. Most of the people that work in retail stores don’t have access to anything at all. You clock in, you stand at your register, you check people out, you turn in your tray, and you go home. You don’t get into the secure offices and you don’t get to watch when customers fill out credit applications.

    As a person that used to work in retail for many years, it can feel like you’re a leper. No going near the prohibited areas, you common criminal you! They don’t trust employees as far as they can throw us.

  15. datafox says:

    @Quatre707:

    At a store I work at, we do not take applications there but have the customer mail out that info. So we as employees have no access to such things.

    I do not have access to my own employee file.

  16. Parting says:

    @ChuckECheese: Some people do not know how to use internet, either.

    Last time I went to Best Buy, I was surprised that pretty much everything is more expensive than at Staples or eBgames.

  17. TornadoRex says:

    I used to work at a retail store where this would have been very easy to do. Paper applications sitting in a little box, out in the open (where even customers could see) with credit card numbers, ss numbers, basically everything you would need to steal someone’s identity. It was quite unnerving actually.

  18. Dansc29625 says:

    Most large retailers are xxxxxxxxxx’ing out the card numbers on the store copy receipts. In the past they had the full numbers.

  19. dweebster says:

    @Victo: “Last time I went to Best Buy, I was surprised that pretty much everything is more expensive than at Staples or eBgames. “

    Even putting aside the fact that “Best” Buy appears to hire common thugs as General Managers, and all their other anti-enjoyable shopping vibes – the fact that their prices don’t match their ironic name is reason enough to avoid shopping there. I can sit in the comfort of my home or work and have Amazon bring me things hassle-free at 20-40% off what “Best” Buy charges, without the “receipt checks” and violent General Managers chasing customers to the parking lots. For brick and mortars, Staples, Office Max and Office Depot usually have anything I need in a hurry, and with coupons and specials they wipe BB’s yellow-tagged ass.

  20. Zeniq says:

    Does anyone else find it ironic that the reason this happened was because they were not asked to show ID? I’m just sayin…

  21. dragonfire81 says:

    This can happen at pretty much any store that takes credit cards if the employee is cunning enough although I agree store credit cards are an easy target.

  22. kellkell says:

    I had this happen to me when I rented a car my last trip to LA. The only place I used the card was the at the Hertz office and that was to hold the rental. Then comes the bill and instead of a 0 balance a ton of charges at TJ Maxx, Olive Garden and some local clothing store. They managed to charge nearly $2000 on the card in a matter of a couple days!
    Anyway if you use credit cards this can happen to you, no matter how careful you happen to be. At least you’re protected by the card issuer. I have no idea how people who write checks function, talk about asking for identity theft.

  23. scoutermac says:

    This happened to my dad when an Apple Employee called him to ask if he would like to extend a warranty on an ibook. It was the only time he had ever used the card. Someone wired money from St. Louis to Nigera. Yet he lives two hours from St. Louis.

  24. jonworld says:

    I bet Best Buy takes this issue “very seriously.” Knowing Best Buy, they would.

  25. narayan1121 says:

    Best Buy has over 160,000 employees. It’s possible for some people to slip through the cracks, or become disenfranchised. It never ceases to amaze me that people here seem to think they could do a better job of managing that many people. I am glad, though, that most people so far seem to understand this has nothing to do with Best Buy; every company can have a bad employee. Even if only 1% of Best Buy’s employees were bad, that’s a lot of bad experiences they can cause. But that’s the price of success, I guess.

  26. gatewaytoheaven says:

    As an employee of a major electronics firm, I can safely say that many associates (especially cashiers) pass time by theorizing the different methodologies that could be used to defraud the company and our customers. How do I know this? Because I actively participated in such “brainstorming?” Did I ever do anything like this even though our computer security is so lax that even a dim-witted criminal could easily obtain credit card information of our customers? No. I value my associate discount.

    That said, the responsibility ultimately falls on the business institution to ensure that customer privacy is of paramount import, which it is often not.

  27. joellevand says:

    This is clearly Best Buy’s fault somehow.

    How DARE they hire people! They should be using super-efficient automatons that never ever malfunction or otherwise deviate from BB’s stated mission of raising prices and fleecing consumers into oblivion!

    Hell, it’s clearly the victim’s faults for shopping there in the first place and not at a little Mom and Pop shop, because even though most Mom & Pops don’t do credit cards, if they did, all Mom and Pops are just patriotic Americans like myself and would never do anything devious, underhanded, or morally corrupt.

    No, wait, it’s the victim’s faults for even USING credit. We should all use CASH for everything. And never use checks, because only dinosaurs use them.

    Fry’s Electronics FTW!

    There, I think that covers most of the posts received during the week that are usually lacking on weekends.

    /end filling the void until the Monday Morning Quarterbacks hit the comments.

  28. mac-phisto says:

    i applied for a job at best buy in 2001 (hey, i was unemployed – i was looking for anything) & 3 different managers stressed their “stringent employee review process to disqualify thieves, addicts & other riff-raff” during my interview.

    looks like their methods aren’t working too well.

  29. Thaad says:

    Someone at the store in management will lose their job over this. If the person in question keyed in the CC #s the system automatically requires an imprint of the CC to be filed with the store. If the imprints weren’t being done, then someone above this worker is also going to get fired for not keeping the proper paper work.

  30. Tank says:

    @Dansc29625: that’s because it’s required by FTC regulations.

  31. celticgina says:

    At first, I was shocked the perp didn’t use the cards to purchase porn.

    Silly me!

    I forgot they just STEAL that at Best Buy!!

  32. scoosdad says:

    @Dansc29625: Thank goodness for that. BJ’s here in the northeast is now reproducing your credit card signature that you had to sign on the “electronic pin-pad” right on the cash register receipt.

    Imagine the fun if they were still putting the full cc number on the receipt too? You know how many of those BJ’s receipts end up flying around the parking lot or in the trash cans by the exits after your receipt is checked by the BJs person on the way out. It’s not like the old days that if you got the yellow copy of a mechanical imprint of your cc receipt with your signature on it, you tucked it carefully into your wallet to take home to put away in a safe place until the statement came.

  33. Sudonum says:

    Las Cruces, interesting, as the last time I had any problems with CC fraud was when I stopped overnight at a hotel in Las Cruces. Maybe it’s something they’re putting in the water.

  34. mrsultana can't get a password to work says:

    So, the procedure for Best Buy on the branded credit cards is that you don’t even have to have the card present. The cashier ringing it up doesn’t even have to be a part of the scam. If you have no card, there is an option (“card not present”) on the register. It requires to put the customer’s birthday (SOP says only from a driver’s license, but it doesn’t work that way 100% of the time) and then the customer puts their SSN into the credit card keypad. It would be very easy to scam this way if the cashier was A) Naive or B) In on it.
    As for the applications, they get put away behind the counter (not very secure), behind locked doors overnight, and then FedEx’d the next day to the bank. They are never kept around. But if this girl was a part of Customer Service, Personal Shopping Assistants, or Magnolia Home Theater (all have access), it would have been very easy to copy down SSN and birthday.

  35. sleepydumbdude says:

    Sears is pretty bad too. Two years ago a friend of mine had his number “memorized” or written down by an associate. If it is a sears card or sears mastercard then they don’t have to have the call there, they can look them up or just imput the numbers. the guy bought 1400 dollars worth of stuff and had it delivered for instore pick up. They ended up having a guy in the instore pick up on it so he didn’t check the ID but the cameras caught everything and both of them got busted.

  36. khiltd says:

    I’m amazed that a Best Buy employee knew how to ring up a sale at all.

  37. endless says:

    @khiltd:

    i am fairly shocked that you are allowed to make comments like that.

  38. wellfleet says:

    Disclaimer: I work at Best Buy as a manager

    1. Any new hire has to have and pass a criminal background check, so we do *try* to weed out assorted criminals
    2. All credit apps are stored in a locked office for less than 24 hours as they are send to corporate every day
    3. We can no longer steal people’s disgusting porn (like we couldn’t find our own) as all Geek Squad PCs have been switched to mule PCs where all uploaded information is encrypted so that agents can’t even see the customer’s name or file names. The mule is also monitored in real time by corporate 24/7 for any unauthorized activity. Personal flash drives are verboten and are a terminable action on first offense. Again, not perfect, but we’re trying.
    4. The incidence of employee theft at Best Buy is likely no higher than at any other retail store. Like another commenter said, Best Buy employes over 100,000 people and it would be delusional to assume that they are all honest and ethical.
    5. Employee theft, even a pack of gum, results in getting fired 100% of the time. Employees leave in *handcuffs* for any theft from a customer. I have seen and read stories about apprehensions. They are all “taken seriously” and by that I mean they are 100% prosecuted.

  39. wellfleet says:

    edits: send, and employs…

  40. muledoggie says:

    Some people steal. Some people who steal work at despite ‘s efforts to make sure that some people who steal don’t get hired at .

    Therefore, some people that work at will steal.

    This is simply the nature of the world we live in. We shouldn’t be surprised when it happens or expect to be able to perfectly prevent it.

    Mule

  41. muledoggie says:

    Square brackets don’t work, so here we go again:

    Some people steal. Some people who steal work at (fill in company name here) despite (fill in company name here)’s efforts to make sure that some people who steal don’t get hired at (fill in company name here).

    Therefore, some people that work at fill in company name here) will steal.

    This is simply the nature of the world we live in. We shouldn’t be surprised when it happens or expect to be able to perfectly prevent it.

    Mule

  42. blkhrt1 says:

    @wellfleet: As another Best Buy employee and manager, I will completely agree with this. If people have ANY marks on their background check, they aren’t hired. That doesn’t prevent a thief from being a thief though. Anyone can steal from anyone, and anywhere. Its a matter of free will. A matter of choice. People choose to steal. People choose to shop at our store and MANY others. Those companies can also get stolen from. So before everyone jumps down Best Buy’s throat, just imagine being the customer who finds out their identity was just stolen.

  43. Meathamper says:

    Don’t trust cashiers and waiters if you don’t trust putting out your Visa on Amazon.com.

  44. Ray308win says:

    This kind of thing actually happens quite frequently. When I worked at Circuit City, we always heard of employee’s at both CC and BB getting arrested for using Customer’s credit cards, or other such scams. Just about 3 weeks ago in fact, I got called by one of my co-workers who told me in the last 3 months, my ex supervisor was arrested for using customer credit cards to pay her bills of around $3,000, and one of the other Customer Service Associates was caught Returning Items brought back by customers to her own Credit card instead of the customer’s card for over $8,000. When I first started, one of the managers at another store (The Operations Manager) was arrested for stealing over $12,000 over the course of around 6 months from customers who tried to pay their CC bill with checks.