I found a funny charge on my credit card

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I just got back from a road trip, which means I have a LOT of charges on my credit card and I like to categorize them to track my budget. Here’s a fun one I found!

I use the “You Need A Budget” app (YNAB) to track my spending across my different accounts. Usually it’s great and I can figure out exactly what I spent on. Sometimes, I get something that is super ambiguous and have to figure out if I got identity theft-ed, or if the merchant is just poorly labeled, or something got jumbled up from the Merchant -> Bank -> Importing Service like Plaid -> Budgeting app pipeline.

When I see something weird like this, I go straight to the bank’s app.

In the Citi app, the transaction shows up as “5102_ETM_SMV He” and the location is set to “Nderson U”. Weird right? Why all the spaces? What are these words? It still seems truncated!

The only way I can actually show the whole transaction line is to print the transaction from a computer in landscape! The website and printing in portrait mode both truncate.

Here, we see the full transaction description is “5102_ETM_SMV Henderson NV Digital Account Number XXXXXXXXXXXX0329”. The spend category is “Candy, Nut, Confectionary Store” though my phone says “Merchandise”.

The real fun is the Merchant Details show:

5102_ETM_SMV He
Nderson U,
Saudi Arabia

What I think happened here is the first line was truncated from “5102_ETM_SVM Henderson, USA” but USA was split at U – SA so SA was interpreted as Saudi Arabia. This reminds me of how Ontario, CA (California) sometimes triggers fraud alerts because they’re interpreted as Ontario, Canada.

So what was this charge? It’s Ethel M Chocolate Factory in Las Vegas. The factory is tour-able and features a Christmas lighted cactus garden! Chocolates are pretty good too. Fun fact, it’s founded by Forrest Edward Mars Sr. of Mars Bars after his retirement.

I found this “investigation” to be silly, fun, and maybe it’ll help someone out there who thinks they just got scammed by someone in Saudi Arabia.



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