Australians have fallen victim to credit card fraud after US court documents revealed two Chinese students allegedly used multiple stolen cards to pay for tuition.
Chunyang Li, 20, allegedly sought to pay over US$56,000 in fees to the University of New Hampshire (UNH) by charging nine people in Australia, California, Texas, Florida, Virginia, New Jersey and Wisconsin just over $6,200, court documents show.
The other student, Chenghan Wang, 23, allegedly stole a credit card from a person who lived in Maryland to pay UNH about $6,300.
Li was charged with nine counts of fraud, whereas Wang was slapped with one felony charge and one misdemeanour of a fraud attempt.
The classmates were reportedly in the process of making the transactions when police were alerted by the university. The alleged fraudulent charges occurred in April, according to court records.
They were subsequently arrested on May 16 and had their passports seized.
Both students pleaded not guilty and have been released on $5,000 bond.
Typically, Australians fall victim to credit card fraud when entering their details on sites operated by scammers who trick people into thinking they are using a legitimate page.
Analysis by Australian consumer comparison website finder.com.au found a staggering increase in credit card fraud, with 1.8 million dodgy transactions in the last financial year – a 76 per cent rise.
The value of the so-called “card-not-present” crime rose 7.8 per cent to $478 million, and it now accounts for 85 per cent of all credit card fraud.
Consumers are urged to religiously check bank statements to spot unauthorised purchases and only use reputable sites for online shopping.
The Chinese students at the centre of the latest scam claim they were contacted by an unknown person via text message offering to pay the tuition at a discounted rate, according to police affidavits.
The pair say they forwarded the money to the person, but then later received notice from UNH that the tuition wasn’t paid.
Li told police in his affidavit that he didn’t know his tuition and a traffic fine was being paid for with stolen credit card numbers.
Police chief Paul Dean said credit card theft is becoming increasingly prevalent across university campuses.
“We are finding that more and more on campus that people’s identities have been stolen and fraudulently used and I think this is something that is happening nationwide and cyber security of your own identity, credit cards and personal information should be everyone’s top priority,” Chief Dean told New Hampshire TV station WMUR.