My husband's two major credit cards were taken from his wallet very selectively on Saturday, May 22. The cards were inside a very small wallet which was located in a box in the car. It was not clearly visible and the car was locked. The car was parked in a school parking lot while my husband and daughter were at a soccer game.
Within two hours, the thief had generated a fake ID with a fake address and phone number. My husband's driver's license was not taken but his SSN could have been stolen. He had an ATT calling card in the wallet, too, which was not taken.
Within three hours, the Discover credit card security department called and left a message at our home about suspicious purchases. Nonetheless, the thief managed to spend over $6800 on high-end laptop computers in less than four hours!
We don't yet know the extent of the financial damage as we do not know if checks have been written or new accounts opened in my husband's name. We are going to call all the credit bureaus tomorrow. We have notified all the card companies and our credit union. We believe the thief attempted to use our Visa card but was rejected because the balance went over our limit. I was SHOCKED to find all local authorities do nothing about this type of crime. They even sigh about filing a police report. I am NOT the type to give up, however, and I plan to take this thing as far as I can. I will involve media if given the opportunity.
As soon as I saw that I had to take the matter in my own hands, I called the credit card company and got the details of the purchases made. I went to each and every store (a total of 3 so far) and spoke with EVERYONE involved. I took notes on just what each person told me. I asked questions about surveilance and I asked for copies of all of the thiefs transactions, including his signature. Through my work today (with the help of my 12-year-old daughter), I found eight people who can match the physical identification of the imposter!! One lady noted very fine details about the man's face and clothing!
My next step is to notify the appropriate fraud units locally. The theft of the cards occurred in the Northern Virginia area while the fraud occurred some 15+ miles away in Maryland (two different suburbs there). I managed to corroborate the stories of the different COMPUSA and Circuit City employees. I have details for the local authorities to go on. I am going to INSIST that action be taken by ALL. I have had enough of the "Gee, ma'am, you have to consider the extent of this problem. It is the credit card company's responsibility to investigate." WHAT???!!! The credit card company is based in Delaware! You mean I can't get someone here to look into LOCAL crime?! "But, ma'am, you don't understand.....we get hundreds of these cases a week." EXACTLY my point! Why can't I work as one to help STOP this?
This imposter isn't EXPECTING anyone to follow his trail. He KNOWS he can get away with it. He will continue to stalk potential victims at family sports events. He will continue to tarnish the credit of others. I, on the other hand, plan to stop him as best I can. I have alerted all the stores he apparently frequents. Someone at one store prevented him from charging an additional $3,000 because he said something "just didn't fit." The salesperson asked a lot of questions and it scared the fellow off. The salesperson has "seen the guy before."
Unfortunately, one salesperson allowed a sale with a fake ID. The salesperson did say that when she asked for his address, he had to pull his fake ID out first! The salesperson at the other store said that the zip code did not match the city but the thief said, "I forgot it....I just moved here." Unfortunately, the salesperson did not match up the address the thief gave with the one written on the fake ID. If he had, he would have found that the zip code was ok but the thief stupidly messed up the city!!
I have found eight people who could ID this man. I have the faked signatures of the thief. I have been told that at one of the stores, the man is on the tape without doubt. If the authorities CHOOSE to do nothing now, I will implore the media to take my case to the public. I expect such super leads to be followed to the fullest. I expect the local businesses to be alerted by the police so that this man can be apprehended when he tries to commit the same crime against another.
Will it all pan out? I don't know. I spent time gathering the evidence in order to protect myself and others. If apathy prevails, I will become more vocal. Police are aware of this crime daily. They even know where it occurs. They have washed their own hands of any responsibility to resolve it, however. They even imply that the credit card authorities will not be interested because it isn't "corporate theft" or some other high-level crime. They are basically saying, "Sorry, ma'am, there isn't a thing you can do really." Hogwash! I can make fliers. I can contact local businesses that have yet to be targeted. I can write to my lawmakers. I can contact the media. Don't expect me to "lie down and take it." As many report on the websites like this, the nightmare is not always over when you take steps.
Why should I start off with the police department's attitude?? It is MY CREDIT that is being blasted, not theirs!! Tenacity....I have that, too!
Continued, May 25, 1999
I plan to call the local county school security regarding the need for MORE security even when school is not in session. I began to think that surveillance should be increased during sports events where people are being scrutinized by career criminals. In this time of high school violence, this increased security should be a priority!
I plan to call the CompUSA folks, also. I am VERY unhappy that a second check of ID was not initiated with such an expensive purchase. Clearly, the criminal made a stupid mistake that the salesperson did not pick up on. Part of the perpetuation of this crime is caused by careless employees. Evidence of an ID is NOT enough. Training must be done as in the case with the Circuit City employee who used his training to prevent a would-be criminal from pursuing his crime! Employees must see that fake IDs are prevalent and blind acceptance of this should NOT be tolerated. The salespeople SHOULD be nosey and ask just the right questions. I say go with your "gut instinct." In most cases it will not let you down given other key signs.
The public must be educated further about the lack of follow up in white collar crime. I doubt many know how little the police will do in such cases. I apparently missed some of the news shows featuring this problem in the past. I think MORE attention should be given to the matter. I plan to let others know about our recent victimization in the school parking lot by way of a flier (factual but asking a lot of questions). I want this particular individual's "playing field" to be decreased. I will be careful not to leave my identity as I want to be safe not sorry.
I plan to make call others who might offer help to expand public knowledge quickly. At least the store employees I spoke with will be on their toes as I spoke with them in-depth about this person's tactics. While I don't want anyone fired over the matter, I do want careful scrutiny in such sales. The purchases our theft made were the largest of the day at the stores he visited. MORE RED FLAGS should be going up.....WHY aren't they? I need some answers if I am to feel secure with credit card ownership. The businesses should be held accountable, too.