Los Angeles aerospace worker Bettina Leeney thought it was strange when she was billed on her credit card for an Internet charge since she doesn't use the Internet, CBS News Correspondent Sandra Hughes report.
"The charge was set up as a monthly recurring charge. I just happened to catch it in the first month," Leeney said.
The government says Leeney is just one of about a million credit card customers worldwide who have been scammed by a man identified as Kenneth Taves, 47, of Malibu, Calif. Taves was arrested Tuesday in federal court for failing to turn over millions of dollars stashed in Cayman Islands bank accounts.
Federal investigators are calling the case one of the biggest credit card scams in history.
"I was livid. I couldn't believe this guy had the nerve," Leeney said after learning of the charges against Taves.
Nerve enough, say investigators, to use his Malibu-based businesses to take in almost $50 million last year alone.
"I would definitely tell consumers that they should pay attention to their debit and credit card statements very closely and make sure that every charge or debit on there is something that they authorize," said Doug Wolfe of the Federal Trade Commission.
Investigators believe Taves used one of many programs hackers put on the Internet that generate credit card numbers. CBS News found one such program on the Web in a matter of minutes. The program works by running random numerical sequences to create legitimate credit card numbers, which are then billed with phony charges.
Taves' lawyer was unavailable for comment, and Taves isn't talking because he's in a jail cell.
Taves' wife is also named in the federal investigation, which is aimed at finding and bringing back the money to the United States and into the hands of ripped-off consumers.
©1999 CBS Worldwide Corp. All rights reserved
Copyright 1999 CBS. All rights reserved.
CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff