Phony credit cards at the heart of sophisticated scheme in which criminals target expensive items

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- A sophisticated crime scheme seems to be hitting the Milwaukee area. Expensive items are being purchased with phony credit cards -- and shortly thereafter, store employees realize they've been scammed. Motorcycles, power equipment and more are being targeted in this scheme.

Store owners tell FOX6 News they're on alert. But how can they refuse a big sale where at first, the credit card seems to go through just fine?

It happened at a Milwaukee motorcycle dealership. A search warrant affadavit confirms what happened.

Store owners say it works like this: The suspect enters the store and makes a purchase -- targeting an expensive item. The suspect hands over a phony credit card -- created by the crooks themselves.

When the clerk swipes the card, it says an authorization code is needed. On the back of the card -- a phony phone number!

When the clerk makes the phone call, another suspect answers, and provides a phony authorization code.

The scheme is sophisticated enough that it has actually been working.

In August, a commercial lawn mower store almost fell victim to this crime. Store employees were able to delay the suspect caught on surveillance video until police arrived.

According to the search warrant affadavit from the motorcycle dealership, police were able to identify the suspect who purchased the motorcycle with a phony credit card -- when he tried to resell it to another shop.

While records show police made an arrest in the case involving the motorcycle, it appears there are more people in this crime ring still out there -- armed with phony credit cards and a taste for expensive items.

Milwaukee police have recovered the stolen motorcycle -- but the motorcycle dealership is waiting until an investigation is complete -- when they will hopefully get the motorcycle back.