Evil Thieves Deserve What?

Here’s the story: I arrive home from work late yesterday afternoon to find two new messages on the telephone. The first one was an automated message from “Credit Card Company A” (we’ll call it) stating that it was not a solicitation call and they believe there has been fraudulent activity on my wife’s’ credit card; needless to say I was concerned. The next call was from “Credit Card Company B”, this time a real person stating that my wife needed to call them right away; needles to say I was now very concerned.

In a fit of panic I called my wife at work and exclaimed she had to call them right away to find out what was going on. She really couldn’t do a lot, she works in retail and was needed at her job; however, she had enough time to go back into the lunch room, open her carry bag, pull out her purse and find that her wallet had been stolen sometime between 12:30PM and 2:30PM EST. She called me back at home, understandable distraught and frustrated because now what? Well, she had to wait until she got home.

After a long hour of waiting, she finally got off of work and hurried home. We jumped on the telephone and called “Credit Card Company A” who explained to her that they had put a temporary hold on her card after recent odd behavior. They asked her if she had used her credit card in a pay phone recently (which she had not); they asked her if she had purchased something for $132.00 (which she had not) and then they closed the card and marked it stolen. This really surprised me (in a good way) they automatically flagged the card, put it on hold and denied subsequent transactions after a $5.00, and $132.00 charge followed by a $500.00 withdrawal attempt. That’s pretty impressive if you ask me. So after a few thank-you’s she hung up to call “Credit Card Company B”; which oddly enough had a similar story. They asked her if she’d used a pay phone for $5.00 (which she had not); they asked if she had tried to take money out of a machine (which she had not) and then they closed the card and marked it stolen, this time after the thief only used it once.

I still don’t know how two separate credit card companies were able to detect the card was stolen so quickly (by the 2nd and 3rd transaction), but man, they’re doing something right. As as software developer (and a human) I couldn’t even imagine the complexity of the code that flags credit card activity as suspicious. Cudos to the developers who wrote that AI.

Now that her two credit cards were taken care of there was a sigh of relief for a few seconds before I was like: “AH, what else was in your wallet?”

The first thing we thought of was our bank card, so she called our bank (a major Canadian bank) and we put up with their STUPID “new, easy to use” voice recognition system (which I may blog about later, the stupid idiotic piece of crap). After fighting with the phone system to get to a stolen card menu or better yet a real person, we were put on hold. We waited and waited, and while we were waiting she realized she had a consumer credit card. She handed me the on-hold phone and picked up the other phone to call the consumer credit card phone number on the other line. She called, they answered, she gave them a bit of information and said the card was stolen, they told here there was no recent activity on the card (thank god) and then they closed the account and flagged it stolen. That whole process was unbelievably done while STILL on hold with that major Canadian bank. After another 10 minutes someone at the bank answers the damn phone and after a series of questions we explained the wallet and card was stolen. My wife and I wanted to know if anyone had tried to use the card and where… We found out from the major Canadian bank that indeed someone was had been trying the card numerous times for odd amounts and receiving the “invalid PIN” error. The bank (unlike the credit card companies) didn’t find this suspicious at all, and didn’t bother to put the card on hold or contact us. I also found out earlier, that if the person did actually guess the PIN number that the money in our account was not insured and we wouldn’t get it back. I couldn’t believe how much of a pain dealing with the bank was, not a good experience.

To summarize, we’ve now cancelled two credit cards, a consumer credit card and a bank card. The credit card cancellation was simple, helpful and the stolen funds insured, while the bank was a giant pain in the ass and the funds weren’t insured, nor were we contacted regarding the suspicious activities on the account.

With all of her money related cards now taken care of, what’s next? Blockbuster card, air miles replacement, and of course, the really painful things like her drivers licence, health card, birth certificate, etc. But first we thought we should report this, so off we went to the police station. On our way to the police station I thought maybe I should stop at the mall, which is right beside where my wife works. I didn’t really know what I would find there and hell, I had to pick up pants anyways. We both figured (albeit her idea first) after the thief stole her wallet, they headed to the mall, which made sense. We wandered around looking on the ground, looking in trash cans, not really expecting to find, but hoping to find, something… anything. We went to the information desk to see if anyone had turned in a wallet, nothing.

One thing to note, after something like this happens you’re (at least I was) suspicious of everyone. I saw a scruffy looking 17-18ish year old kid at a bank machine with a card and 2 or 3 bank machine receipts. I was SO tempted to ask to just see that card but I stopped myself after I realized I was being completely irrational and idiotic and well… “US President Bush-like” [TERROR] ha. Either way, I snapped myself out of it and headed back to the car.

We went to the police station, not quite knowing what to expect. I was sort of hoping for a CSI-type officer to come out and take them to the scene of the crime where they’d shine black lights and do finger prints and question everyone in the store… no, that’s just me watching to much TV. Reality: the nice lady at the front desk asked my wife a bunch of questions, when, where, how, entered a bunch of information into a database, gave us telephone numbers of credit people to call so they can flag her wallet stolen… pretty simple, but I suppose made a whole lot more sense than my CSI vision *who are you, who, who, who who playing in the background*.

I’m pretty sure I was a bit more worked up than my wife was during this whole ordeal, but I think we both felt a little better now that we reported this. All-in-all, we were now hungry and went out for dinner and a drink.

During dinner we talked about the whole ordeal and the more we talked about it the angrier I became with the situation. How dare someone? How dare someone go into a back employee’s room, go through someone else’s things and steal their personal possessions. What kind of a person does this? What does that kind of person deserve as punishment? Criminally it was a small crime I realize that, but morally, how does someone like that sleep at night? I hope they know that karma will catch up with them sooner or later, because I truly believe in the saying “what goes around, comes around”.

I honestly consider myself lucky to not understand why some desperate idiot would commit such an act. I usually pride myself in being able to at least try to understand both sides of a situation, but this one is too difficult… my mother always told me, you never touch a woman’s purse.

“What would I do/say if I met the person that did this”, I wonder to myself after listening to my wife explain to me all the trouble she had to go to today trying to get temporary this, and temporary that, and jump through these hoops at these government offices, all on one of only two days off she has per week. Well, I’d definitely have to restrain myself from kicking them directly in the shin, that’s for sure. I don’t know, I have so many mixed emotions about the situation that I’d probably just roll my eyes and shake my head as they got charged for such a ridiculous and selfish crime.

Anyways, this was my first and hopefully last encounter with a criminal. It’s made me a bit more cautious and tipped the decision scale into the “I’m going to buy an alarm system for my house” side. Thanks for reading my blog entry, please feel free to comment or share your horror stories, unless they’re really bad, in which case unfortunately I don’t want to hear about them because I won’t sleep at night 😉

“Can’t we all just get along?”

Best Regards,
Matt Simpson

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