LAKEWOOD, Colo. -- A credit card fraud case could be the first linked to the massive Target stores data breach that happened last year.
The suspect has been caught on surveillance cameras in Lakewood where police say the man has been using at least 16 credit card numbers that belong to other people at places like Walgreen's, Target, Best Buy and 7-Eleven.
Investigators say he has run up almost $9,000 in fraudulent purchases.
"The credit card numbers being used by this one male suspect are card numbers that came from the massive Target breach of last year," says Lakewood police spokesman Steve Davis.
If that is the case, cyber security expert Charles Tendell says this is perhaps the first time anyone has tried to use the stolen card information in the United States.
"The guys went underground and they waited and were planning on waiting ... because now the cards are valid," Tendell says.
Thieves hacked into Target's data systems and stole about 40 million credit and debit card numbers just as the holiday shopping season started last year.
Lakewood police believe their suspect may have at least 30 of those numbers. He goes by the name Steve Lock. His image was captured as he left a Lakewood Target store in March.
"He actually had dummy credit cards and was able to emboss those numbers on those credit cards," Davis says.
Investigators think he purchased the card information from a black market Internet site. If they catch him, it might help trace the Target hackers.
Experts say this case is typical in that the thieves often wait for months before making stolen credit card information available to try to lull consumers into a false sense of security.
They say that if you ever suspect your credit card has been compromised, contact the issuer and change it.