Two Kiwis working in Miami have been victims of fraud - with a $27,000 Italian shopping spree charged to their credit card.
Aucklanders Tracie Hancock and Perry Lanaway had barely touched down in the United States when their card's details were illegally recorded during a Home Depot store purchase and a duplicate card created 8,000km away in Italy.
The thieves treated themselves to a Tuscany holiday, and spent thousands at exclusive jewellery and electronics shops, fancy restaurants and on designer clothes in stores such as Prada and Calvin Klein.
The first the Kiwis knew of the fraud was when their card was declined despite their having paid the previous month's balance the night before.
"When we called Amex to resolve the issue we were told the card was overdrawn by A$24,000 ($27,000)," Hancock told the Herald on Sunday.
"We realised straight away that it must have been fraud and when we were on the phone Amex identified that a physical card copy had been replicated and was being used in Italy." The fraudsters had spent the money in 24 transactions including two small "trial" purchases in the US where the theft occurred.
As soon as the thieves had confirmed the fake card worked they had racked up $27,000 in three days, including nearly $8,000 on two Omega watches.
"Most of this was transacted in Tuscany and probably safe to say they bought stuff to resell for cash but we will probably never know," Hancock said.
The couple, who moved to the US last month to work in IT, said the fraud highlighted the need for insurance. Lanaway's platinum Amex card automatically came with fraud insurance so the couple did not have to repay the $27,000 or any associated interest.
Amex told them the store they had visited had recently been targeted by credit card fraudsters.
"Looking at the credit card bill we were a little envious it wasn't us on that spending spree - all we can say is thank goodness for credit card insurance."