The day the $700 hit crossed Daniel Somers’ prepaid American Express Passcard, his mother says she knew immediately it was fraud.
“Two charges for 350 dollars each at a Walgreens in Philadelphia … and Daniel was upstairs in bed so we knew it wasn’t him,” Mary Somers told NBC 5 Responds.
She was right: her son, an Elmhurst College student, was one of thousands ensnared by the Chipotle malware attack. Thieves somehow installed malware, designed to access card data at the restaurant chain’s point-of-sale systems, affecting stores in 47 states in March and April of this year.
But the Somers family of Riverside says they didn’t hear about the hit from the restaurant chain. They saw it in almost real-time, as the Philadelphia purchases prompted text alerts to them. The first charge? For 35-cents at a 7-11.
“They say that’s what thieves do. They’ll do a really small amount to make sure the card works,” Mary Somers said.
The card did work- so, shortly after the small purchase, two big hits: around $350 each at Walgreens, also in Philadelphia.
A big total, but Mary Somers says she was not alarmed. She knew her son’s AmEx Passcard came with built-in protections against fraud. Triggering those protections turned out to be much more difficult than she says she expected.
After multiple calls to AmEx, Somers says she began to suspect she was getting the run-around. “All they kept saying was, ‘We will email you the claims form’”, she told NBC 5 Responds. “Those forms never arrived … I was just banging my head against the wall, getting very, very frustrated.”
Somers says she called NBC 5 Responds after more than 6 weeks had passed, and still no sign of the family’s $700. When we asked American Express why the Somers’ dispute was still in limbo, the family says they got their money back within 48 hours.
A spokesperson for American Express did not answer our specific questions, but offered this comment: “Upon further review and confirmation of the correct account contact information, we have issued a credit to the account.”
“My kids have told me in the past that I am a bulldog when it comes to customer service but I learned you all are the masters of it.
The Somers family says the experience led them to cancel their American Express accounts. But the hack leaves no such hard feelings for Daniel when it comes to his favorite restaurant. Chipotle sent him a pile of “free burrito” cards—currency that speaks directly to the college student’s heart.