(Updates with fresh Arpaio comment)
PHOENIX Feb 5 A controversial Arizona lawman,
who styles himself "America's Toughest Sheriff" for his
relentless pursuit of criminals, said on Tuesday that he has
himself become a victim of credit card fraud.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said his credit card
information had been used to buy $291 in groceries in Chicago -
a city he said he had not visited in years.
A controversial figure for housing county detainees in a
Spartan "Tent City" jail and for sweeps targeting illegal
immigrants across metro Phoenix, Arpaio said fraudsters used his
Discover card last week to shop at a Jewel supermarket in the
"I haven't been to Chicago since I was a young federal
narcotics agent in 1957 ... so I sure couldn't have been buying
groceries in that supermarket," Arpaio told Reuters, adding:
"This seems to be a widespread problem across our nation."
He said he was alerted to the scam by Discover, and that no
arrests had been made.
Bank card fraud is on the rise worldwide. One international
study published last year found more than a quarter of consumers
reported having been hit by scammers in the previous five years.
Local CBS affiliate KPHO Phoenix reported Arpaio would
consider not pressing charges if the perpetrator was struggling,
although he said later he had concluded that an organized gang
was likely responsible.
"I was just saying 'Jesus, some poor guy in Chicago stole my
card number and he had to feed his kids and they had no food'
... but no, this was like an organized effort and whoever's
doing this should go to jail for 100 years," he said.
Arpaio was swept to a sixth term in office in November by
supporters of his hardline stance on crime and illegal
immigration in the Phoenix area. He is also fighting lawsuits
from the government and Hispanic drivers who accuse him of civil
rights violations and racial profiling, which he denies.
(Reporting by Tim Gaynor; editing by Cynthia Johnston and