Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw discovered in March that he was a victim of identity theft when charges on his American Express were declined. According to the Washington Post:

Saslaw said he was alerted to a problem with his American Express credit card in March and quickly reported it to Virginia State Police. Virginia authorities reported it to the California State Highway Patrol, which is now searching for two suspects in the Sacramento area in connection with the theft. Saslaw said the suspects reached out to multiple banks and credit card companies in an effort to get new cards in his name. “They were persistent,” he said.

Saslaw praised the Virginia and California authorities and said reaching out to police was the right thing to do when he realized he’d been the victim of identity theft. “They were really very efficient,” he said.

Saslaw theorized that his number was skimmed while he ate at a Northern Virginia restaurant



News10 out of Sacremento
had the following:

Saslaw said the same thing happened to two other lawmakers in the Virginia legislature and he believes information on the magnetic stripes of their credit cards was stolen in a process known as “skimming” while they dined together at a restaurant.

Hi-Tech Crimes Task Force commander Capt. Jim Cooper said investigators were searching for two suspects they say changed Saslaw’s home address in Virginia to an apartment on Fulton Avenue in Sacramento. Investigators believe Bernell Bryan Washington, 24, and Sky Manriquez, 21, are staying with friends or relatives in the Fresno area.

I expect that American Express was all over this one. I had a card stolen in a restaurant. I alerted Am Ex and their fraud department was all over the case within minutes of the report. I had had unauthorized purchases made also and I knew where I had been when the card was taken. I have had 2 other unauthorized uses of credit cards. American Express was the most professional in handling the situation. People need to be on continual look out for unauthorized charges.

Fortunately, gas was bought with my card and not medical marijuana. The right wing blogs have already started having a field day with Saslaw’s identity theft, mainly because he is a left leaning Democrat. Too bad this can’t be a teachable moment about identity theft and how to handle it. Instead it is being used by some as a ‘gotcha moment.’ Shame on those who cannot transcend politics when the situation is obvious.

9 Thoughts to “Virginia State Majority Leader Victim of Identity Theft”

  1. Emma

    This has happened to me twice. The first time, my credit card company froze my account because someone was playing “World of Warcraft at my expense, and Visa thought that was unusual. I was thankful for their vigilance despite the embarrassment of my card not working in a store. The second time was triggered by a series of unusually large purchases that we did not make.

    Going to a restaurant is really the only time I can think of where we consent to allow our credit card to disappear with the server for 10-15 minutes. Maybe that needs to change.

  2. I agree Emma. In this case, mine disappeared, was returned to me and I forgot to pick it up out of the little holder it was returned in. So it wasn’t swiped. I boycotted that restaurant that sits out in the middle of a shopping center where there is an ABC store and a Giant for about 6 months.

    I had called and told them I had left the card the next day when I realized I didn’t have it. They hadn’t seen it. Blah blah blah. I called Am Ex then. I also have had strange charges appear on 2 other cards but that was internet connected. In one case, expensive skate board equipment appeared for nearly a grand. Another case where I got gouged, large amounts of health suppliments. Go figure.

    American Express was totally professional and assured me there would be no fall back on me and that they would seek to prosecute which made me especially happy. The rat bastard must have filled up an tank in one visit to a gas station.

  3. marinm

    Even when the card is in your control – the card can be skimmed. Common locations for doing so are gas pumps and ATM machines. But, I agree once you lose sight of the card it only takes seconds for the bad guy to skim the card and you won’t know about it until the bank’s fraud detection software picks up an issue.

    My wife got a call from BoA after a purchase was made in CA on the same day a purchase was made in PWC. They called her up and froze the account FAST.

    Now, here’s another mind bender for you. The POS terminals at most restraunts are not wired anymore. They’re wireless. And a lot of them use WEP for encryption. Roughly 1 minute to break with most common tools and then you can see the card/transaction information ‘in the clear’.

    Lowes, Best Buy, TJ Maxx.. a bunch of companies got hit hard with this…

    1. Scary. And if we carry cash we get robbed. If you order on the internet someone gets your card. Checks aren’t so safe either. How do we buy?

      Thanks for the info, Marin.

  4. Captain Idiot-Face

    Every once in a blue moon, the right thing happens to the right person. Hope it was an illegal immigrant that got him.

  5. I suppose I am a grouch. I never see anything funny about identity theft nor would I use it to teach my political enemies a lesson.

    I don’t believe the thieves were illegal immigrants. One seemed to have a very American name. Check out the video.

  6. NoVA Scout

    In Europe, the wait staff carry portable readers and scan the card at the table. Not sure that solves the problem, but at least the card is in plain view at all times.

  7. Scanners should be done here. Credit cards should never leave your sight.

  8. marinm

    They use that type of system at Dixie Bones (POS at table vice at an operator station) but you still may deal with a WEP issue.

    Its a cost of doing business with our electronic payment society.

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