DECEMBER 20, 2013
This fall, hundreds of attendees at conventions in Boston fell victim to credit card theft. However, police now think that there could be many more victims throughout the city.
According to Boston Police Detective Steven Blair, the thefts are more widespread than previously thought and people who did not attend the conventions at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center in October and November could also be victims.
The new information comes after interviews with credit card companies. Blair said that there could be hundreds more victims. This is in addition to the hundreds who have already reported fraudulent and unauthorized charges to their credit cards after visits to Boston.
At present, there have been about 300 people who have reported compromised credit cards after attended the American Society of Genetics meeting and the American Public Health meeting, held in October and November respectively.
Although police remain unsure as to how the thefts were carried out, the thieves most likely hacked into a computer system to capture the data. There has not been a breach found at the convention center, adjacent hotel, or the local restaurants and bars. The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority announced that the thefts did not occur in the facility to reassure convention planner scheduled to meet in January. Some employees of the authority were also victims.
After the convention in Boston, victims of the theft reported their credit cards being used around the United States in clothing stores, drug stores, and other retailers to buy gift cards. The gift cards are able to be resold for cash.
The victims reported that they used their credit cards mostly in nearby restaurants and businesses, including M.J. O’Connors and City Bar. Both of these establishments are located in the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel. The Briar Group owns both restaurants, and reports that its security consultants are yet to find any problems in their systems. Similarly, the Westin has also been unable to find any breaches of security.
The state attorney general and US Secret Service are also investigating the theft. Boston Police have reached out to major credit card companies, and with their help are retracing the steps of the potential victims and pinpointing locations where the cards were used.