ATLANTA - MARTA police are adding up the cost of a counterfeit Breeze Card scheme that targeted the system and its riders.
Before you can get on a MARTA train, you need one of a Breeze Cards to get through the gate. MARTA's police say the crooks figured out a way to crack the card as part of a scheme to make a quick buck. So far, seven people have been arrested.
MARTA police chief Wanda Dunham wasn't shy about her shock over the scope of a scheme to rip off the system.
"It's stretched from every area of MARTA," Dunham said.
The seven suspects facing theft, fraud and racketeering charges.
Dunham called them the leaders of a ring that bought empty Breeze Cards out of stations' vending machines for a dollar, used some kind of device to bypass the card's encryption, and loaded them up with big balances. They then sold them on the street. Dunham said a suspicious rider called police to tip them off.
"He thought something was strange about it. He was selling the monthly MARTA card for $40 and they normally run for about $95," Dunham said.
"I was surprised by the sophistication of the whole set up," MARTA police detective Lorenzo Whitestone. "It was a real flamboyant plan. It was real bold and it was just kind of an in-your-face kind of operation."
MARTA police are trying to track down how much the scheme cost the system.
"They're looking at ways we can strengthen our encryption so that this can't happen again," Dunham said.
So far police have confiscated more than 400 of the bogus Breeze Cards, but admit more could be out there.