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Debbie Dujanovic ReportingThe crime: fraud. The target: you. We confront the accused, and ask, why isn't more being done to protect you?
Police tell Eyewitness News that one simple question could cut this crime by 80-percent nationwide. When you're a victim, you wonder why it doesn't get asked. Our investigation uncovers the answer.
Using police evidence, court documents, and an undercover camera, we show you why thieves call this the easiest crime.
First, we've obtained surveillance video from detective files. They show different suspects caught on tape at stores along the Wasatch Front, stocking up on everything from shoes, to baby gear, to building supplies -- using stolen credit cards.
Mike Scott, Utah Attorney General's Office: "In my mind it shows a shocking lack of respect for fellow human beings."
In 15 visits to court, we uncovered stacks of cases and tracked down a suspect.
Christopher Kline, Fraud Suspect: "I went out and bought clothes, anything I saw that I wanted, I got."
Eighteen-year old Christopher Kline is facing charges in District Court. Police say he racked up 15-thousand dollars on a stolen credit card.
Christopher Kline: "How easy is this crime? It's easy, one of the easiest crimes you'll ever get away with."
Kline says stores make it simple. With the cooperation of law enforcement authorities, I gave our investigative producer my credit card to see just how easy it is. She shops at Shopko, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Walmart. In 50-minutes, she was able to buy enough to re-decorate a bathroom, and a bedroom, and bought a brand new bike.
Later, at a mall she bought a new nightgown and lunch. She was never asked for ID, no one checks signatures to see if they match. She even left the mall with a new golf bag.
Ashley Sampson, Fraud Victim: "It shouldn't be that easy to buy something as large as a golf bag."
Ashley Sampson realizes why someone stole her credit card.
Ashley Sampson: "It's just so easy. I feel like anybody can do it."
Mike Scott: "(when asked if it bothers him) Yes, it tells me I have a lot more work to do."
We took our investigation to the Utah Attorney General's Office.
Mike Scott, Utah Attorney General's Office: "Being a victim of credit card theft or credit card fraud is no different than someone walking up to you on the street and putting a gun in your back, and taking your wallet."
Investigators are rattled by what we've uncovered.
Mike Scott: "I can't believe they didn't say, 'Can I see some ID on that?'" The Utah Attorney General's office meets with local retailers. Declaring it an epidemic, investigators have asked stores to check ID with credit card purchases. They tell Eyewitness News it would cut credit card fraud by 80-percent.
We found stores are more concerned about customer service. The association that represents hundreds of Utah stores says requiring ID will make their customers mad.
James Olsen, Utah Retail Merchants Association: "They're very angry, saying, 'Wait a minute, I'm not a thief. Why are you making me do all these additional things?'"
There's proof ID checks curb fraud. R.C. Willey put mandatory ID checks in place. So far this year they've cut losses a quarter of a million dollars.
If you recognized any suspects from the store surveillance video in our report, please call Sergeant Carr with the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office at 272-0760.
We’ve linked the video to this web page if you would like to view it again.