One Large Scammer Slammer With Extra Stupid, Please

, , , , , , , | Working | February 11, 2021

At the pizza shop I work for, if a person calls in for delivery, we ask how they want to pay. If they want to pay with a card, we have to enter their card information into the system. After we confirm the authorization on the payment, we have no way to see the credit card number. If you were to print the ticket, it would only show the last four numbers of the card with the authorization number. 

One day, it’s just my general manager and me in the store. I walk out from the back and she’s on the phone.

Manager: “Again, I’m so sorry. I will definitely look into that ASAP. Tell the officers to come in and ask for [Manager] and we’ll do whatever we can.”

After she hangs up, she pulls a stack of credit card receipts out of the safe and begins going through them. She hands me a small slip of paper that she’d been writing on while on the phone.

Manager: “Do me a favor and look at last night’s transactions and try to find these three totals. A customer got delivery last night and was charged three different times on her card. I need to see if these totals are in the system and I’m going to see if the signatures match.”

This is easy, as you can organize tickets by their total, and I find and print a copy of all three orders.

Me: “Only one of these is delivery; the other two are from the counter… and have an employee discount added to them.”

She hands me the other receipts and asks me to help her look for those three tickets. She finds the delivery one and I find one of the counter ones and burst out laughing.

Me: “[Counter Person] is a f****** moron.”

It turns out that last night, our counter person wrote down this lady’s entire information, used it to buy two meals for herself, gave herself the employee discount, and then SIGNED HER OWN NAME TO THE RECEIPT. The police arrive and my manager shows them the receipts. She starts talking with them about how [Counter Person] also used this lady’s card to buy $500 worth of stuff online. While this is going on, the phone rings and I answer it.

Counter Person: “Hey, [My Name], can I place an order for delivery?”

She placed the order and, I kid you not, she TRIED TO USE THE STOLEN CREDIT CARD. It didn’t go through because the customer had already canceled it, so she said she’d just pay cash. I always wondered who got there first: the pizza or the cops.

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So Much For “Personal Bonds”

, , , , , | Legal | January 25, 2021

I work for a small contracting and landscaping company. The crew is about a dozen guys, the owner, and me in the office over the owner’s garage. Every Monday morning, I meet with [Owner] to discuss our plan for the week — progress on jobs, bills to be paid, new clients, etc. — and then [Owner] is gone for the rest of the week. He calls or texts to get updates, but otherwise, I almost never see him.

One Monday, we are having our meeting when his phone rings.

Owner: “I have to take this. Play some music or something?”

Me: “Oh, yeah, sure.”

I plug in my headphones.

Owner: *After his call* “Okay, I’ll see you later. I have a few prospective clients today. I’m gonna go to the bank and pay [Vendor] $2,000 today.”

Me: “Sounds good.”

[Owner] often pays bills in person if he’s going to be in the area, as he believes it builds a personal bond between the vendor and contractor. I mark off the bill and go about my day. On Wednesday, [Vendor] calls the office.

Me: “[Landscaping Company]. How can I help you?”

Vendor: “Hey, uh, just a reminder that your bill is overdue.”

Me: “[Owner] paid $2,000 on Monday.”

Vendor: “What?”

Me: “[Owner] said he stopped by.”

Vendor: “No, he never came in. And you owe last month, too.”

Me: “Oh. Uhh… Okay, just a minute.”

I log in to the banking website and see that the money was taken out on Monday.

Me: “Maybe he got caught up. I’ll give him a call and call you back.”

Vendor: *Annoyed* “You need to pay by the end of the week.” *Hangs up*

I call [Owner] but his phone goes straight to voicemail. I leave a message telling him that [Vendor] called, and I explain what I said to them. An hour later, he calls me back.

Owner: “Why did you tell them I’d be there?”

Me: “Because… you said you would?”

Owner: “And I’ll get there. I’m gonna take another $2,000.”

Me: “Okay, for bills?”

Owner: “It’s my money!”

Me: “Your paycheck?”

Owner: “Look, I gotta go. Just don’t worry about it.” *Hangs up*

I was in charge of documenting payroll, so I noted that he’d taken it — tax-free — on our payroll website. I went back through the bank statement against my notes from our meetings and saw that he had taken money from the account every day he’d said he was paying vendors. I contacted each vendor and they all said he hadn’t paid.

[Owner] was out of contact for the next week, not even showing up for the Monday meeting. I called his phone several times but he never answered. I went down to the main house and knocked on the door. Before I could say anything, his wife told me I was fired and closed the door in my face.

Two weeks later, I received a paycheck and a letter from [Owner]’s wife. She had followed [Owner] on one of his “business trips” and found that he had been visiting sex workers and using the company’s money to pay them.

I found out through the workers that [Owner]’s wife had filed for divorce and full custody of their three children. The company went under during the proceedings, and last I heard, [Owner] was in prison.

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This Is A Lying-Doesn’t-Fly Zone

, , , , , , | Working | December 31, 2020

I work in a department that creates graphics and presentations for the rest of the firm. We have regulars that routinely use our services, but we’re available to anyone in the company.

I’m alone in the center overnight two days before Christmas when I get a call from an unfamiliar employee asking if we can edit a PDF. It’s not an uncommon request; sometimes documents are converted to PDF for sharing or printing, only for a typo or alignment problem to be discovered at the last minute.

Me: “Sure, that’s most likely not a problem.”

Employee: “Great!” 

The employee emails me the file.

I open the file and stare at it, aghast. It’s a note from this employee’s doctor. Evidently, a long-scheduled plane trip over the holidays had been imperiled by a serious injury a few weeks back; the note states that the employee is cleared to fly.

The instructions are to add the word “not” into the note so that it would appear to read that the employee was not cleared to fly.

I’m ready to refuse this outright when I hear the internalized voice of my boss. Like most “cost centers,” our department doesn’t have a lot of cachet within the company, and recent complaints involving a few of us trying to enforce certain standards that not all of the senior officers care about have led to firm instructions from our boss not to refuse anything our requesters ask for.

Basically, our option to say, “No, we don’t do that,” has been taken away, leaving me wondering how best to handle this employee’s request to help them scam their airline without violating departmental directive.

I call the employee back.

Me: *Politely* “I’m sorry, but I do not feel I can ethically handle your request.”

The employee persists.

Employee: “It’s just inserting a word! I simply want to get my plane tickets refunded now that I’ve decided not to take the trip.”

After going back and forth a while, I finally have to say outright that I’m not comfortable falsifying medical documents on the employee’s behalf.

The employee tells me they understand and hangs up, only to call back to say they’re going to try to do it themselves, and asking if I can tell them how to do that.

I’m thinking about PDF-tampering permutations of the old “feed someone a fish” adage as I take another look at the document. It’s an image, not a text-based PDF, so modifying it isn’t as simple as clicking “Edit” and typing in “not.” I tell the employee that the change is not something they can do themselves; they accept this and hang up. I then document everything for my boss, wondering what the response will be.

After the holidays, I hear back from my boss. My refusal to do the job was supported, not because the request was unethical but because it was personal and not business-related.

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Spoiler: The Scammer Isn’t Who You Think It Is

, , , , , | Legal | October 7, 2020

A customer has come to our store with a return of several window blinds and he has the receipt taped to one of the blinds. I take the receipt to complete the return but find that it does not match with the products.

Me: “Do you have another receipt? This isn’t the right one.”

Customer: “No, it has to be. I specifically asked the lady who served me to tape it on so I didn’t lose it.”

Me: “This isn’t for blinds; it’s only for $2. Did you buy something else at the same time?”

Customer: “No, I paid almost $300 in cash for these yesterday.”

I call the store manager over to see if he can find the correct sale in the register, thinking we could print the correct receipt up, but all he can find is the $2 sale; there’s no sale that matches and none for over $200. He is dumbfounded and tries clicking buttons to see if the sale was done on other days but accidentally brings up sales that have been put on hold. There is one sale from the day before on there for the exact blinds the customer is returning.

Manager: “I can’t understand why it’s been put on hold; it means that it’s not finalised and hasn’t been paid for.”

Customer: “But I did pay for them. I got the money out of the bank right before I came here. I have the bank receipt in my wallet, along with the change, because I gave the girl three one-hundred-dollar notes.”

Manager: “If you wait here for a few moments, I’ll check the takings from yesterday. [My Name], will you carry on with [task and code for ‘watch this guy’]?”

A few minutes later, the manager comes back. He takes the customer aside while I keep on my task. He looks a bit pale as he quietly talks to the customer and takes his details before handing over money for the refund, and the customer leaves.  

Me: “You found the money, then?”

Manager: *Shaking his head* “No, I can’t talk about it. I’ll be in the office if you need me. I know you should be leaving soon, but are you able to stay for the rest of the day?”

Me: “Sure.”

I assumed that my replacement had called in sick, but ten minutes later she walked in, followed not long later by the police, who asked to see the manager.

Later, I saw my coworker walk out with the police; she was in tears and wearing cuffs. The manager told me that he’d checked the CCTV, and he saw the customer hand over $300 and be given $20 back, along with the receipt being taped in place. After the customer left, the coworker put the remainder of the money in her pocket.

What she would do was to ring the sale up, put the sale on hold, and then ring up a $2 item. She had thought that a held sale would cancel out at the end of the day, but they stayed in the system. There was a long list of held sales under her name going back months, each matched to the date and time of a $2 cash sale. She had stolen close to $20,000.


This story is part of our Best Of October 2020 roundup!

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Read the Best Of October 2020 roundup!

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This Is No Game She’s Playing

, , , | Legal | September 17, 2020

We sell cards for a specific online game, and we always advise people that they are not refundable. Our system does allow the return, as long as the code hasn’t been used, though we only do returns for specific situations. A woman comes in with her son and puts one of the cards down along with a receipt.

Woman: “I bought this and it didn’t work. Your manager said I could return it.”

Me: “Okay, let me go ahead and get that done for you!”

I start the return, but the system won’t allow it since the code has been redeemed.

Me: “It looks like the system won’t allow it, which means you’ll have to contact [Company] for a refund.”

Woman: “No, your manager said you could refund me!”

Me: “She might have, but the system will not allow it. I can’t even force it to refund you.”

Woman: “Fine, I’ll just wait for your manager to come back in.”

I get a weird feeling about the situation and call my manager after the woman leaves.

Manager: “Oh, her? She tried that yesterday, and I told her to get a hold of [Company], since there’s nothing we can do on our end. I have the feeling she might be trying to scam us.”

I’m off the next day, but I work the day after that. The same woman comes in, this time with her husband. She puts the same card and receipt on the counter.

Woman: “Your manager—”

Me: “Nope. Out.”

Woman: “What?!”

Me: “I talked with my manager. She remembers you, and she told you exactly what I told you.”

Woman: “No, she—”

Me: “Our system will not be able to return this card. Period. We cannot override it. No store can return this for you.”

Woman: “But she—”

Me: “My manager has told me, explicitly, that we cannot return this for you. Your only option is to contact [Company].”

Woman: “You can’t throw me out! I want my money back!”

Me: “I cannot give you your money back. The system says this card has been redeemed; therefore, the problem is with [Company], not us.”

Woman: “I’ll have my husband force you!”

Me: “Now you’re threatening me. You are not able to get your refund through us. I am telling you to leave.”

Woman: “You can’t kick me out! I have rights!”

Me: “And so do I and the company. We have the right to ask anyone to leave. I also have the right to call the cops if you don’t leave.”

Woman: “I’ll just stand in the store! You’ll have to drag me out! I’ll sue for assault!”

I call the police. The woman gives me a triumphant look the whole time, as if she’s somehow won by taking up my time. After a bit, a patrol car parks in front of the store.

Officer: “What’s the issue here?”

Me: “I—”

Woman: “This b**** won’t give me my money back! She stole my money with this s*** card and refuses to give it back!”

Officer: *To me* “Okay, can I get your side?”

Me: “My system won’t allow it, since [Company] has marked it as redeemed. I’ve told her to get a hold of them, since we have no way to refund her at this point. She’s also come in several times demanding we do this for her, even after we’ve told her the same thing every time. She also threatened me and refused to leave when I asked her several times.”

Woman: “YOU CAN’T PROVE S***!”

I quietly point to the camera aimed right at my register.

Woman: “Well… I… F*** YOU! I SHOULD HAVE MY HUSBAND—”

Officer: “Ma’am, I wouldn’t finish that if I were you. Step outside.”

They go outside, and I can hear her yelling from inside the store. Eventually, she’s handcuffed and put in the back of his patrol car. The officer comes back in.

Officer: “Is there a way to pull up a purchase history?”

Me: “Yeah, if it’s bought on the same card. I just need some of the info off the card.”

It turns out, she had been running a scam where she bought various online game cards, sold the codes, then would return them, saying the codes didn’t work. She’d gotten away with a few hundred from our company, and because of a similar scheme with another company, had a warrant out for fraud.

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