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Fraudsters target elite credit cards twice as often

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Willie Sutton robbed banks "because that's where the money is." The same holds true for people who commit credit card fraud.

So-called elite credit cards have nearly twice the fraud rates as other types of regular plastic, according to Forter, which makes fraud prevention software for online retailers. The company just released results of a yearlong study, analyzing hundreds of thousands of credit card transactions across all types of online retailers.

"We live in a crime-as-a-service economy," said Noam Inbar, Forter's vice president of development. "There's a higher market demand for elite credit card numbers from fraudsters."

Elite cards like the American Express Centurion card (known as the "Black Card") and Visa Infinite are usually invitation only, made with special materials like anodized titanium, and carry hefty annual fees and requirements for cardholders to charge at least six figures per year.

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"Since the card is targeted at the super rich, a big purchase could be much less likely to raise eyebrows or set off fraud alarms with the Black Card than it would with other cards," said Matt Schulz, CreditCards.com's senior industry analyst. "A $5,000 purchase, for example, might be quite unusual for the average American but perhaps not for the average AmEx Black cardholder."

Forter also found that people who commit credit card fraud tend to burn the midnight oil. Most fraud occurs between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. The fraud rate is 10 times as high then as the rate between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.

"Fraudsters often work multiple jobs and commit a lot of the fraudulent activity at home when they are not at their day jobs," Inbar said.

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Schulz recommends that all cardholders, but especially wealthy ones, regularly check their statements. "That's the absolute best way to sniff out these unusual purchases," he said. "After all, no one cares as much about your money as you do, so it's imperative that you do what you can to watch out for it."