5 On Your Side

Raleigh woman hunts down thief after $4K stolen from her bank account

Posted May 7, 2018 6:00 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 11:13 a.m. EDT

How far would you go to track down someone who used your debit card number? When a Raleigh woman became a victim, she took matters into her own hands.

After she was robbed of $4,500, Amy Milslagle launched her own investigation to catch the thief.

"I used to use my debit card daily, multiple times a day -- pretty much for everything," said Milslagle.

Then, last February, her debit card stopped working.

Amy Milslagle

"I looked up my account, and I saw about $4,500 worth of transactions I didn't make," said Milslagle.

Someone was able to get her debit card number before making purchases in Maryland and New York. Milslagle alerted her bank but didn't believe they'd pursue the culprit, so she started to dig on her own.

"I contacted all the merchandise locations or the stores where the transactions had taken place," she said. "I got phone numbers, receipts and email addresses -- some places actually physically sent me the receipts."

A couple receipts were from Elkel, a boutique in New York. "On those receipts was the name of an individual associated with my billing address and my credit card number," said Milslagle. "His name, phone number and email address were actually on the receipt as well along with a description of the items that he had purchased."

When she scoured the internet and social media to find an account matching the receipt info, Milslagle found a picture of a man wearing a $650 sweater matching one purchased with her card!

Armed with her "evidence," Milslagle contacted Raleigh police, who pointed her to law enforcement where the purchases were made. When she contacted police in New York, she was told the information she gathered wasn't enough to pursue him.

Frustrated, Milslagle then called and texted the number on the receipt.

"I was very upset and I wanted him to know that this was not okay and that I was going to pursue it," she said. "He actually initially responded to the text, saying, 'You must have the wrong person, God bless you,' and I said, no I don't."

Milslagle never heard back.

"From a victim's perspective, it's extremely frustrating," she said.

After almost a month after her funds were stolen, Milslagle's bank reimbursed the $4,500, but Milslagle is still angry that whoever stole her debit card number got away with it. 5 On Your Side reached out to the email on the receipt and got a reply saying, "I was framed by someone who sold me the material."

Police say these cases are difficult to prove because so often they don't know how the numbers were stolen, and then they're used out of state -- but Milslagle doesn't get it. "It's not gonna stop unless we figure out a way to prosecute these guys," she said. "There's no incentive for them to stop."

The best way to protect your non-cash funds is to use a credit card for purchases instead of a debit card. Learn more and read the rest of Milslagle's story here.

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