The Utah Transit Authority advertises that its GoRide ticketing app is “a convenient solution to pay for your transit fare with your smartphone.” It apparently also is an easy way for thieves to test whether stolen credit cards are active and working.

“A diligent employee first identified this activity and reported it to UTA Police,” said UTA spokesman Carl Arky.

According to affidavits that the UTA Police filed for search warrants, investigations started when a fare operations analyst noticed a high number of chargebacks from banks.

They occur when a credit card holder notices charges that they did not make, and reports that to their bank. The bank then reverses the charge to the merchant who accepted it, in this case UTA.

“That’s one of the ways we noticed that something was going on. There was a high number of reverse charges,” Arky said. He added that UTA does not have available information on how much that has cost the agency.

(Photo courtesy of UTA) Screen shot from the UTA GoRide app to pay fares.

“I don’t think it [the amount] is a big deal at this point, but it is a nuisance and it is money,” Arky said.

Search warrant affidavits said UTA figures thieves were using the GoRide app to test whether stolen credit card numbers were still active because low-cost charges for transit rides may not raise concern by credit card companies and owners initially, perhaps allowing thieves to go on spending sprees for other items with the working numbers.

The affidavits said UTA identified more than a dozen problematic accounts and was able to identify several people and their electronics and financial accounts suspected of using stolen credit card numbers. They said the agency found fraudulent activity dating back to last July.

“UTA wants to assure its riders their personal information has not been compromised. The GoRide app itself is safe,” he said. “The perpetrators have not accessed any private, personal information of UTA riders using the GoRide app.”

Arky added that the agency may be able to share more information after investigations are completed.