It’s Mrs. Fraud!

, , , , , | Right | October 18, 2019

(This is back in the days before chip and PIN. A customer comes up to pay for her purchase with a card. I check the signature and it’s completely different, but not just different writing, a different name. I turn the card over to check the name, and it’s distinctly a man’s name, and she is an unremarkable middle-aged woman.)

Me: “This isn’t your card.”

Customer: “No, it’s my husband’s.”

Me: “Well, you can’t use it.”

(She holds up bags from half a dozen other stores and says:)

Customer: “No one else said anything.” 

(Yup, she’d spent hundreds of dollars on a card she wasn’t even pretending was hers, and no one else had noticed.)

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Peaky Binders

, , , , , | Right | October 10, 2019

Customer: “I have to return these binders my kids didn’t need for school. I don’t have the receipt.”

Me: “Did you maybe get the receipt emailed to you?”

Customer: “No.”

Me: “Hmm. Normally, we could look up the receipt with the SKU of the item and verify it with your card number, but we have sold so many of these binders in the last few weeks it would take us forever to find it. Without a receipt, the register will only let me give you a store credit for the lowest price it’s been sold at in the last 90 days, and these were buy-one-get-one-free recently, so I know they’re going to come up at a penny. Do you want to try looking for your receipt and coming back?”

Customer: “Well, can’t you just scan them and see?”

Me: “Okay.” *scans them and they all come up at a penny* “No, it won’t let me give you anything for them, unfortunately.”

Customer: “Well, what if I just buy new ones and use that receipt to return them?”

Me: *hesitantly* “That’s… fraud…”

Customer: “How is that fraud?”

Me: “Because you’re using a new receipt to return something old. And they’re not on sale anymore, so if you originally bought them on sale, you would be getting more money back than what you paid for them. Plus, you would still be stuck with binders you don’t want, anyway.”

Customer: “Why?”

Me: “Because you would have twice as many binders as you have on your receipt.”

Customer: “Well, I would just go to another store to return the other ones.”

Me: “You can’t do that.”

Customer: “Why not?”

Me: “You can’t return something twice with the same receipt.”

Customer: “It’s not fraud just because I can’t find my receipt!”

Me: “No, but trying to buy new ones and return them all at the new price is fraud. Are you sure you can’t just find your receipt?”

(She leaves and calls the store to talk to a manager — I’m pretty sure she is just calling from the parking lot — and the manager says we can try looking her receipt up. She comes back in immediately and my manager can’t find her receipt.)

Manager: “I can’t find the receipt. And these binders have had different sale prices during the back to school time, and they’re expensive, so I can’t just return them without a receipt.”

Customer: “Can’t you just scan ones from the shelf, then? So they don’t ring up as a penny?”

Manager: “They’re the same binders.”

Customer: “But the ones I’ve brought in ring up as a penny. Can’t you just scan new ones so they scan at full price?”

Manager: “No, they’re the same binders; they will still ring up at a penny. The register does it automatically when there isn’t a receipt.”

Customer: “I don’t understand why can’t just give me what I paid for them!”

Manager: “Because you don’t have a receipt… which tells us what you paid for them…”

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Friends With Money (Problems)

, , , , , , , | Friendly | July 10, 2019

(I am at the mall with a friend, who is also my roommate. We head into a cell phone provider, as I’m going to change my plan and buy a new phone. We get to talking about how expensive it all is. Side note: he’s notoriously bad with money.)

Friend: “I can barely pay my phone bill as it is. I can’t imagine paying [price] for a [brand-new model phone].”

Me: “I can’t afford it, either; that’s why I’m getting the older model. It’s on sale now, essentially free if you extend your contract.”

Friend: “Make sure you ask about cancellation fees. [Other Phone Company] was the worst when I couldn’t pay and tried to cancel my plan.”

Me: “Yeah, I’ll ask.”

Friend: “Or you can do what I did and just disappear.” *laughs*

Me: “What?” 

Friend: “Yeah, instead of giving [Other Phone Company] like 200 bucks to get out of the contract, I just stopped paying.”

Me: “But you still owe them that money, right? They can come after you for it.”

Friend: “Let’s see them find me.” 

Me: *silence*

Friend: *proudly* “I’ve moved twice since then. They’ll never get a penny from me.” *laughs*

Me: “That would kill your credit rating.” 

Friend: “What does that matter? I already have a credit card.” 

(It still boggles my mind. He was a good person, and smart in general, just absolutely clueless about money.)

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Data Protection Protects You From Callers Like Her

, , , , , | Legal | May 16, 2019

(I am working in the collections department for an energy supplier when I get a call from a woman regarding a letter she says she received. She says she has a question about it. She gives me a reference number and I pull up the account.)

Me: “I’ve got the account up. May I ask your name?

(The customer gives me her name and it is the same as on the account. I then ask her to confirm address and DOB, both of which match what is on the account.)

Me: “Thank you for confirming those details. What was your query?”

Customer: “Yes, what is this letter all about?”

Me: “There is a balance on the account. It needs to be paid. You owe [amount].”

Customer: “No, I don’t.”

Me: “I’m not seeing any payments since [date].”

Customer: “No, you don’t understand. This isn’t my account.”

Me: “Your name is on the account and you confirmed the address.”

Customer: “No, no. This letter isn’t for me. This is my friend’s account. My name is [Different Name].”

Me: “I’m sorry, madam, I can no longer discuss the account with you without the customer’s permission. Is the customer there?”

Customer: “You just broke the data protection law. You disclosed my friend’s details.”

Me: “Actually, madam, you committed fraud.”

Customer: “No, I didn’t. I never said I was the customer. You broke the law; now you’re going to lose your job. I’m going to report you.”

Me: “Actually, madam, when I asked what your name was, you told me it was [Customer’s Name], when I asked what your address was, you said it was [Customer’s address], and when I asked you to confirm your date of birth, you told me it was [Customer’s DOB]. You pretended to be your friend, which is fraud.”

Customer: “No, I didn’t. If you heard that, that’s your fault. I’m going to report you!”

Me: “You are welcome to report this to the data commissioner. I’ll get you the details if you like. We are obligated to report this incident, as well, and will send the recording of this call to prove what was said.”

Customer: “How dare you say that to me?! Get me your manager!”

(I got my manager, who took over the call. My manager promised to listen to the call and arranged to call the woman back once she had done so. Later that day, my manager came and spoke to me. She listened to the call and confirmed that the customer definitely committed fraud – she clearly said her name, address, and DOB were the customer’s. My manager gave me an anti-fraud form to fill in so it could be passed on to the police. During the call, the woman gave me her full name, and she gave my manager several phone numbers when they arranged the callback, one of which was a work number. My manager also got the woman’s address because she wanted me to write her a formal apology for accusing her of committing fraud. All these details went on the form we sent to the police.)

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Money Makes The World Burn Down

, , , , , , | Legal | April 23, 2019

Years ago, my brother was working as an accountant for a small chain of mini-marts. Since he was considered management, he was not eligible for overtime, but they wanted him weekly to be on call and to come in on his day off to some task that was not part of his job and not a management task. California law indicated he might be eligible to collect overtime for that after all.

So, he requested about $10,000 to cover the unpaid overtime. The company refused, so he took them to the Labor Board.

He lost his suit with the Labor Board, but as part of the investigation, the Labor Board discovered that the company was shorting the overtime for other employees. The company was forced to pay the overtime and close to $100,000 in fines.

In addition, the investigator discovered that the company had official inventory taken, but then fudged the numbers on the tax returns and kept both the correct and the fraudulent inventories. So, the investigator turned them into the IRS. They were audited and ended up paying close to $500,000 in back taxes and fines.

This put a major crimp in the savings and income of the partners. Whether it was because she didn’t have enough spending money or because she did not want to be associated with the cheats, one of the partner’s wives filed for divorce and in the community property state, she ended up with a quarter of the business, which she insisted on taking in cash.

This resulted in the company going bankrupt. And it all could have been avoided for $10,000.

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