$31,000 in less than two hours. That is how much thieves in Loudoun County were able to charge on credit cards stolen from one woman.
It all began last Saturday afternoon at a T.J. Maxx store when the woman was distracted by two other customers.
Nancy Albany said she was shopping at the Dulles store when a man bumped her cart and a woman nearby asked for help reading a tag on an item of clothing. As she bent down to look, Albany now believes the man grabbed her wallet and set an incredible spending spree in motion.
Albany had no idea at the time, but based on an accounting from her credit card companies, the thieves went to work while she was still inside T.J. Maxx -- racking up thousands of dollars in purchases with her T.J. Maxx MasterCard.
"All the purchases, all the fraudulent purchases were done at Best Buy, but just at different locations," said Albany. "Best Buy was the only place they went and I question the practices of Best Buy that would allow purchases of big ticket items without asking for identification.”
This is how they did it. And we say "they" because the timeline and distances between locations suggests there was more than one.
It all began at 4:38 p.m. The thieves began racking up charges of $4,000 at the Leesburg Best Buy store. By 5 p.m., they had spent $11, 226.89 at the Sterling Best Buy store.
And the rest of the charges look like this:
5:29 p.m.: $6,465.94 -- Leesburg Best Buy
5:37 p.m.: $4,000.00 -- Leesburg Best Buy
6:27 p.m.: 6,041.98 -- Vienna Best Buy
6:28 p.m.: Card declined at Vienna Best Buy
But by then, the thieves had charged a total of $31,734.78.
"I want to alert women to make sure they don't do what I do and have a purse that opens up so easily,” said Albany.
The Fairfax resident said she should have known right away she would become a target as soon as her cart was rammed inside the T.J. Maxx.
"I'm upset that my radar didn't go off," she said, "because I knew that that wasn't right. He bumped me. It actually jerked me.”
Albany said she had zero balances on four credit cards and it wasn't until 6:28 p.m. that the spending spree came to a close and the cards were declined.
"I just want to alert the average consumer out there that this can happen to them,” she said. “I'm not the first one this happened to and I'm not going to be the last unless somebody speaks up and let these people know that this is unacceptable.”
The Loudoun County Sheriff's Office confirmed an investigation is underway, but declined to release any video or specifics of what they have been able to learn about the theft so far.
A spokesman for the sheriff's office would not confirm the amount of money charged to Albany's credit cards other than to say it was more than $16,000.
We reached out to Best Buy in Minneapolis for comment on its credit card policy, but we did not receive an immediate response.
WHBQ-TV | Fox 13
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