Virgin Islands Bank Customers Fall Victim to Payment Card Fraud

Financial Services // Retailer

A security breach at unnamed U.S. merchants left FirstBank VI Visa Debit card clients blocked from using their cards, while some reportedly had “thousands of dollars” stolen from their personal accounts.

When asked if local police were alerted to the matter, FirstBank said the breach is not one of local police jurisdiction.

“I can disclose that the breach occurred in two U.S. retailers, therefore FirstBank does not need to involve local police authorities,” a bank spokeswoman said.

Alana Alexander, marketing communications manager for FirstBank VI, said in a statement that, “as a result of recent security incidents in retail locations, FirstBank’s internal security processes detected an external security breach regarding some Visa Debit card numbers.”

The bank declined to disclose the number of customers affected.

When the bank became aware of the problem on Nov. 12, company representatives began notifying clients and restricted some accounts.

One FirstBank customer in St. Croix said that “hackers” had stolen “thousands of dollars” from his personal account, and that he was at the bank to alert management.

Alexander downplayed the case, saying, “A personal account cannot be hacked,” and adding, “the email of this individual may have been compromised and the fraudster now has access to their information or the fraudster is originating ACH transactions via another access point.”

One customer said he witnessed people shopping in grocery stores whose cards had been declined. Another said his card had been declined at a restaurant earlier in the week.

Banco Popular and Scotia Bank on St. Croix also apparently are affected.  

Scotia Bank marketing director Christine Lee said the bank is aware that certain customers’ Visa debit card accounts have been compromised and its fraud-detection system immediately moved to temporarily lock those accounts.

As of Nov. 20, 1,230 Scotia Bank customers' accounts had been compromised in one week, Lee told the Virgin Islands Daily News.

FirstBank customer Anival Vazquez, whose card number was exposed, said that a FirstBank branch manager told him that as many as 10,000 customers' card numbers had been hacked into.