Fraud For Dinner, Prison For Dessert

, , | Legal | February 2, 2019

(A business guest who has stayed with us for around a week comes to check out. Even though he was here for business and his company had booked his room for him, he brought his wife, which is not a problem for us, but the company explicitly said they will only pay for one person. So, we split the bill into his stay and his food and beverage consumption and a separate bill for his wife’s consumptions, which he will have to pay himself.)

Guest: “All the food is split up.”

Me: “Yes, your company will only pay for your food, but you will have to pay for your wife.”

Guest: “Yes, but can’t you just wrote ‘Dinner’ and the full amount without specifying how many people ate?”

Me: “No, this is an automatically generated bill. When you go to the restaurant, they type in what you order and that’s how it appears on the final bill.”

Guest: “Can you not… change it? I can say it was very expensive, but that it was only me eating here.”

Me: “I’m afraid we can’t do that, sir.”

Guest: “Well, why not?”

Me: “Because modifying a bill is fraud and if your company finds out they will not do any business with us again.”

Guest: *grumbles and pays*

(Seriously though, your wife stays with you for free and you only pay for her food? Isn’t that enough?)

Taking Inventory: I’m Afraid I Can’t Let You Do That, Dave

, , , , , , | Legal | February 1, 2019

This story happened to a friend of mine. Let’s call him Dave. We like to think of it as the moment he went from small-time to big-shot.

Dave is a new systems administrator for this company but has been working in IT for close to 15 years at this point. The last admin retired with little warning, so Dave was hired with the understanding that he would be getting no training and would have to figure out the system more or less by himself. One of the earliest projects Dave is given is creating a proposal for the annual IT budget. He takes an inventory, crunches some numbers, and submits a budget of $495,000.

A few hours later, one of the VPs drops by and asks him to recalculate his budget. Dave gets an anxious vibe from the guy, so he doesn’t ask too many questions and goes back to the drawing board. Figuring there must be some financial issues he is unaware of, he tries to find places where he can save some money and skimp on costs, finally resubmitting a proposal for $460,000.

The next day, Dave is called into a meeting with the CEO, the head of accounting, and two senior VPs. They’re concerned about his budget and ask him to review it with them and explain the numbers. My friend obliges. He points out the cost of equipment currently in production, expansion based on the company’s estimates for growth, and the standard wear-and-tear replacement cycle for the servers, plus padding of ~15% for unforeseen costs. They ask why he was using that inventory list and not the one they provided, and he responds that he never received an inventory list and had to make this one from scratch. Apparently, someone had forgotten to give it to him.

The execs talk among themselves for a bit, then decide they want to double-check the inventory. Dave had previously called the server centers and satellite locations to get inventory counts, but now they decide to check each location personally. Over the course of two days, Dave ferries one of the VPs from location to location, checking every item on the list. He actually finds that several items have been depreciated due to age and failure, so his list is even shorter than he thought. After all this checking and making sure nothing needs replacing and a final bit of calculation, he submits a final budget closer to $380,000.

By now, the execs are mad. They tersely thank Dave, and he doesn’t hear from them all weekend. By this point, he is extremely nervous that he has done something wrong and he is going to lose his job, and picking up a job like this isn’t exactly easy. When he gets in on Monday, he’s called into the CEO’s office yet again.

It turns out the previous administrator had been putting in budgets in excess of $700,000 for the past four years, with the last before his retirement just scraping over $1,000,000. They show Dave the inventory sheets and math the old admin had submitted and they showed an artificially bloated system that didn’t exist — literally hundreds of servers that the company simply didn’t own. Turns out the guy was making the purchases, showing the receipts to accounting, then selling them to friends and family for a fraction of the price and pocketing the profit, which is how he was able to retire at 40, and why he insisted his inventory sheet be given to his replacement. He had effectively embezzled nearly two million dollars that they could prove, and an unknown amount that they could not.

Regardless, they got the court to freeze the guy’s funds, got a warrant for his arrest, and put him in prison where he belongs. They weren’t able to recover most of their money since he didn’t keep records of who he sold to, but the reduced IT budget at least helped them absorb the blow.

And that’s how one misplaced inventory sheet made Dave into a big-shot at his company.

Been Killing These Scams Since The 90s

, , , , , , | Legal | January 31, 2019

(This happened in 2017 when those scam callers claiming to be the IRS were calling people about unpaid taxes. They tried to pull it on me and this is how it turned out.)

Scammer: “Hello, I’m calling for [My Name].”

Me: “One moment, please.”

Scammer: “Okay.”

Me: *starts playing a scene from the 90’s movie “Good Burger”* “Look out; he’s loose!” “Goodness gracious! He’s killing Sydney!” *crashing noise*

Scammer: “Sir, is everything all right?”

Me: *panting like I’m out of breath* “Yeah, just another day at the psych ward. Now, you were saying?”

Scammer: *hangs up*

Don’t Cross Him

, , , , , | Legal | January 30, 2019

There are areas near where I live where walking paths cross across the street, with large bushes on either side that make it impossible to see if anyone is standing and waiting to cross until you are pretty much right on top of the crossing. For this reason, I slow down every time I approach these crossings, just in case someone is waiting there and decides to start crossing without checking. This has proven wise several times, including in this incident.

I was approaching the crossing, slowed down as usual, and then had to slam on my brakes when three guys came hurtling down the path and into the road in front of me. No attempt to check, and no way they could have seen the road to tell if it was clear. The car approaching from the other direction hadn’t slowed down and ended up having to swerve partway into my side of the road to keep from hitting the guys, who waved their arms and shouted a bit at the car.

At this point, rather than pulling back into his lane and moving on, the other driver put his car in park, jumped out, and chased the three guys off onto the path and out of sight. This left me and a couple of other cars that had been coming the other way stuck there with this car partially blocking both lanes. I inched forward a bit to see if I could get around, but there wasn’t enough room. I’d just reached down to pull out my phone and call 911 about the car blocking the road when the guy came back. He then proceeded to flip me off, climb into his car, and rev his engine, before swerving back into his lane and peeling out, almost clipping my car in the process.

Can’t Help Those Who Cannot Help Themselves

, , , , , | Legal Right | January 30, 2019

(My department deals with taking the details of potential new clients, which we then take to a partner of the firm to decide if we’d like to take their claim on or not. We work mostly on the phone.)

Me: “Hello, [Solicitors], [My Name] speaking. How can I help you?”

Caller: “Can I make a claim?”

Me: “That’s certainly possible. Can I take some details from you?”

Caller: “Why would I do that? Just tell me if I can make a claim!”

Me: “I will need to take a few details about what has happened, and some contact details from you; then, I can speak with a partner of the firm to see if we can assist you with a claim.”

Caller: “I’ve had an accident; I just want to know if I can get compensation!”

Me: “What kind of accident have you had?”

Caller: “One that wasn’t my fault.”

Me: “Okay, was it a car accident, or a trip on paving, or an accident at work?”

Caller: “I told you, it was an accident that wasn’t my fault. Why are you wasting my time? Just speak to your boss and see if I can make a claim!”

Me: “I need a bit more information before we know if we can help you. I can speak to a partner, but they will ask me to get more information before we can make a decision.”

Caller: “Fine, it was a car accident.”

Me: “Thank you. Were you driving, or were you a passenger?”

Caller: “Why does that matter? I already told you it was a car accident and it wasn’t my fault.”

Me: “Can you talk me through what happened?”

Caller: “No. I don’t have time to give you the full information. Just talk to your boss and tell me if I can claim. I don’t know why you need so much information from me. I already told you I had an accident and that it wasn’t my fault. How hard is it to see if I have a claim?”

Me: “When did the accident happen?”

Caller: “A couple of years ago, I think.”

Me: “Okay, can you narrow it down a bit, to a month or a season?”

Caller: “No! I told you, it was a couple of years ago.”

Me: *seeing I’m not going to get much more information* “Can I take a few personal details? Can I take your full name and address?”

Caller: “You can have my first name, but no address.” *gives name*

Me: *sees they’re calling in on a withheld number* “Can I also take a contact number to call you on?”

Caller: “No. I don’t want cold calls.”

Me: “All the information we take from you is confidential, and we don’t pass people’s details on to anyone else. I also need the number to call you back once I’ve spoken to the partner.”

Caller: “You mean you can’t just put me on hold and ask the partner now? This is ridiculous; you’re wasting my time! I just wanted to know if I have a claim, and you’re making me give you all this information I don’t want to!”

Me: “I’m sorry to you feel that way, but yes, I would need to call you back later in the day, as we have set times to have meetings with the partners.”

Caller: “I don’t care; I want to know now if I can make a claim! Either ask them now, or I’ll take my business elsewhere!”

Me: “I’ll just pop you on hold and see if I can get in touch with a partner now.”

(I place the call on hold, and try to get in touch with a partner, but they’re all busy or out of the office, so I go back to the caller.)

Me: “I’m sorry, but all of the partners are busy at the moment, I—“

Caller: “This is f****** stupid. F*** you for not helping me.” *hangs up*

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