Couple notices strange account charges; detective warns scammers can get big bucks with small fees

OOLOGAH, Okla. - Realtor Marilyn Walters spends a lot of time on the computer looking at homes, but last year she clicked on something she now regrets.

"My husband brought it to my attention that there were some charges on my bank statement and he couldn't identify them," said Marilyn.

Their bank statement spells it out -- $4.99 charged to their account twice a month by AOL.

AOL started applying the charges last spring. Marilyn and her husband didn't notice them until last month. By that time, $70 had been withdrawn from their account.

"It's my fault for not looking at my bank statements every month and going over them," said Marilyn.

Detective Matthias Wicks with the Tulsa Police Department's financial crimes unit says that is the key.

"If you have a debit card, credit card, always check your accounts and always have a good relationship with your bank," said Wicks.

And getting the Walters' problem solved required working with their bank.

The bank changed their account number so the charges would stop.

The Walters also called AOL.  

The company says the Walters somehow signed up for their service that protects consumers' credit card information, but Marilyn claims she didn't know she was signing up.

"It scared me, I thought if they could do that how many more people can they do this too," asked Marilyn.

Wicks says the Walters are actually among the lucky ones.  He says many other consumers with small charges showing up on their cards are the victims of scammers.

"Credit card scams are nothing new but people suspects are using small amounts and they're hoping the customers don't see that," said Wicks.

Eventually Wicks says those small amounts can add up to big bucks in the bad guys' wallets.

The Walters though were not the victims scams, just their own mistakes.

"We're not computer illiterate but close to it," joked Marilyn's husband.

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