When Making Up Fraud Becomes Fraud

, , , , , , | Working | March 25, 2020

My sister calls me panicking over the fact her heat is about to be shut off due to the fact she never paid her bill. She has just moved into her first apartment and doesn’t have the money at the moment, so I tell her she can use one of my credit cards to make the payment, and then just pay me back. She calls the heating company and they tell her that the credit card company stated it was a fraudulent charge.

I call my credit card company and they are just as confused, as they have no record of a fraudulent charge and haven’t spoken to anyone about it, either. I then call my sister again and relay the information that the payment went through on my end, so something is wrong with the heating company.

It turns out, they accidentally placed a credit on her account, realized the mistake, and withdrew the credit in addition to her payment so it looked like she still owed money. It was completely their fault, and instead of owning up to it, they made a false story about a fraudulent credit card charge to get another payment from her. My sister had a long talk with the supervisor afterward.

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Trust The Process

, , , , , | Working | March 20, 2020

(My debit card company puts a hold on my card every time I travel more than fifty miles. It starts to get ridiculous. I call their number.)

Me: “You’ve blocked my card again! What do I have to do to convince you that I drive around the state frequently and my charges are not fraudulent?”

Operator: “You’re based out of Missouri, correct?”

Me: “Yes.”

Operator: “Were you in a [Fast Food Restaurant] in San Jose, California yesterday?”

Me: “Um… no.”

Operator: “So, maybe we weren’t overreacting.”

Me: “Yes, ma’am.”

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Insurance Fraud Knows No Gender

, , , , , , | Legal | February 13, 2020

(I work in an insurance call center. As a call taker, the first thing I need to do is verify the caller is either the owner or authorized person on the policy. Whilst we do get people attempting to access information fraudulently, most of the time it’s simply an individual who can’t be bothered trying to explain to their elderly, hard-of-hearing relative or non-English-speaking relative that they need to be authorized to speak to us. We cannot outright accuse someone of acting fraudulently, especially if they correctly answer the security questions. It’s frustrating for us, so I developed a way of checking that never fails to result in them hanging up.)

Caller: *clearly very male voice, not elderly* “Yes, my name is [Female Name], [account number], [birth date that would make this person much older than they sound].”

Me: “Thank you for calling, Mrs. [Female Name]. How can I help today?”

(I note that there are no authorized persons on the policy)

Caller: “I need to change my address.”

Me: “I can certainly take care of that for you, Mrs. [Female Name]. While I am making that change for you, may I double-check that I have the correct date of birth for you?”

Caller: “Um… yes… it’s…” *pause, a rustle of paper* “[Birth date].”

Me: “Great, thank you. May I also ask a personal question?”

Caller: *tone slightly uncomfortable* “Yeah, what is it?”

Me: “Do you identify as male, female, or other, Mrs. [Female Name]? We’re able to update that for you with no paperwork. We like to ensure we are using your preferred pronouns.”

Caller: “…” *click* 

(Never failed.)

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Living In His Own Lie

, , , , | Right | January 23, 2020

(I work for a utility company in western New York. This customer calls asking for service. From time to time, people call and find out that somebody has used their info to fraudulently start service. This is not one of these situations. I have just informed this customer that he has had two different accounts under his name with our company. He insists he has never had service, so I take a closer look.)

Me: “Sir, I see here that the first address where you previously had service was taken over by your wife after your account ended.”

Customer: “I lived there but it was never in my name. It was only in my wife’s name. I have never had service; somebody must have stolen my identity.”

Me: “Hmm… I also see that the second account listed is at the very same address and it starts immediately after your wife’s account ends. You had service two times at an address where you actually lived.” 

Customer: “I don’t know how that is possible. I mean, I lived there, but I have never had service under my name. Obviously, this is fraud.” 

Me: “So, what you are saying is that somebody stole your personal info to fraudulently start service at an address where you were actually living before your wife had service there and then did it again after your wife’s account ended?”

Customer: “Yes, I think this is what has happened.”

Me: “The only way to dispute these accounts is to file a police report about your identity being stolen and fill out a fraud packet to start an investigation.”

(This usually stops the nonsense dead because nobody wants to file a false police report. Well, they have actually done this and been arrested on the spot, but I digress.)

Customer: “This is not fair. I have never had service under my name. What am I supposed to do?”

Me: “You need to be able to prove you weren’t living at an address you have already admitted that you lived in on a recorded line. “

Customer: “How much do I have to pay?”

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Checking On Checked Checks

, , , , , | Legal | December 8, 2019

One afternoon, my wife and I were puttering around our tiny apartment in a poorer section near the university when the phone rang. It was a pizza place that we could see from a window, calling because a somewhat inebriated, probably homeless man was trying to buy a pizza with a check that had my wife’s name, address, and our phone number — this is back before cell phones were around. The clerk had clearly had suspicions of fraud and called to see if the check use was authorized. We told him it was not and walked over to the store immediately. Surprisingly, the man didn’t run away, and he had an entire box of my wife’s checks that he had presumably stolen from our broken mailbox.  

The clerk said, “Do you want us to call the police? This guy keeps trying to use stolen checks and we’d like to stop it.”

My wife said, “Sure.” She was young. Now, she would have reamed the guy up and down the street.

The police came, arrested him, and kept the box of checks as evidence. We went down and pressed charges. When we checked with the store a few weeks later, the clerk mournfully told us that because there was no evidence that the man had signed the check, the prosecutor wouldn’t pursue the case.  

So, a bum passed a check, the pizza clerk checked up on him, we picked up the check, and the prosecutor took a rain check on earning his paycheck.

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