That’ll Never Happen to Me!

February 7, 2006 | General

How often have you heard negative news and were positive such a thing could never happen to you? Ten, twenty, one hundred times? I’ve always felt that way. Always sure things happened to other people but not me. Apparently yesterday was my comeuppance day.

Studs was showering and I figured it was a good time to reconcile the checkbook. It’s not my favorite job, but with the Quicken program it’s easy. As I’m going down the list doing my little click thing, I see two checks that cleared for over $100 each. Now I’m positive I’d voided those two checks, but you know how it is with something you were sure of but have to recheck and it still doesn’t make sense? There I was flipping back and forth between the statement and the checkbook, repeatedly, trying to figure what I did wrong.

Like a nice, polite citizen, I call the bank and tell the faceless person on the other end there seems to be a problem with my account. She pulls up the record in her computer and informs me the checks were written by another person against my account.

Okay, I’m blonde but it doesn’t take a Mac truck to make me realize there’s a more serious problem here. Also, I’m out several hundred dollars and not at all happy. Then the nicer, politer lady on the phone tells me there’s a third check written by the same people against my account. I’m stunned and at a complete loss as to what to do. The lady tells me she’ll take care of everything and will get back to me. Yeah. Right. About twenty minutes later she does call back. She recommends I close the account, go into the bank to sign forgery affadavits, and it’s also necessary to file a police report.

Studs agrees, but he’s got a problem. You see, these three checks were written in consecutive order to the other checks in our register. All I can say is – I’m very confused. He looked up the address for the forgers. Bingo, they’re listed in the phonebook. Not making too much sense to me.

We go to the bank, sign the papers, but can’t get any more information. At the police station the detective was nice but explained it was pretty much a lost cause to find the forger.

On the way home, Studs asks if I want to drive by the forger’s house. Hell yeah! I’ve never seen a crack house and here’s a great opportunity. What a shock when we pulled into an upscale subdivision.

Studs drives by and I see an older woman through the open drapes. I wanted to stop and talk with her but Studs was against it. Of course I insisted and am grateful I did.

To cut a long story short I’ll recap the lady’s info.

Her daughter was the fifth in a line of identity theft. When the girl got her bank statement she noticed three checks written against her account, in consecutive order, that she didn’t issue. She called the bank and went through the same routine as we did.

Since then, this young woman has had checks cashed against her account in the thousands of dollars all across the state of Illinois, she lives in Indiana. She had to get her drivers license and credit cards changed. She too was not going to let this go and discovered the other people before her had the same problems but worse. One of them had a high-end Lexus purchased under this scheme. All these people banked at the same bank branch. I’m at the same bank but a different branch, different city, same state.

She has been working with a detective in her city. He told her the FBI were called into the case because the fraud has crossed the state line and escalated into hundreds of thousands of dollars. Apparently the concensus is that it’s an inside job and the bank is working hard to uncover the person or persons responsible for the fraud.

When I left I told the girl’s mother how sorry I was her daughter had to go through all this. The lady sadly smiled and said that within two weeks I’d be in the same situation. I must have had a puzzled or shocked look on my face because she told me all this had happened to her daughter within the last twelve days.

Over a martini, which I desperately needed, Studs and I rehased it all. We couldn’t figure out how the bank had so much personal data to afford an employee with the ability to go to such ends. I pulled out the paperwork we all complete to open a bank account. There is was, in black and white, name – address – phone number – social security number – driver’s license number. What more could any criminal need to ruin your life?

Please be sure to scrutinize your bank and credit card statements carefully. If your bank statement contains photo copies of the checks, thoroughly look those over as well. Immediately report any discrepencies. And good luck.


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10 Responses to “That’ll Never Happen to Me!”

  1. Beth Anderson Says:

    Oh. My. God.

    I’m absolutely aghast at hearing this. I hope the bank and the FBI figure this out soon, before they get any more of your money. How did they get your checks though? Or did they use bank checks?

    Beth, running to check her bank account right now…

  2. Sloane Says:

    The checks were printed on a home computer. I have no clue as to how they created the driver’s license. I just found out a 16 year old girl was arrested and she bought the info off another girl. I was also told it’s not the FBI but FTA who are involved. Me thinks the media shuld be made aware of waht’s going on.

  3. Jenna Howard Says:

    Oh. My. Freakin. God.

    Good luck babe.

  4. Sherrill Quinn Says:

    OMG, Sloane. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Take care.

  5. Maya Reynolds Says:

    Sloane: I know EXACTLY how you feel. The same thing happened to me about five years ago. I was in a meeting at work when my secretary pulled me out. My bank was on the phone, wanting to know if I had written a check for $1,600 to an individual. I said, “No.” They said he was in the bank lobby trying to cash the check. I said, “Arrest the bastard.”

    Long story short. He got nervous because it was taking so long and left the bank before the cops arrived. The bank started examining my account and realized it was the third time he’d cashed a check (each for $1,600) against my account THAT DAY. He’d been going from bank to bank cashing the checks. Fortunately, a smart teller got suspicious.

    Funny end to the story. About an hour later, while the cops where still there, he came back to ask for his driver’s license which he’d left behind and was arrested. Turned out it was also an inside job.

    I closed my account and started over. The bank reimbursed me and it’s never happened again. This, too, will pass.

  6. Yasmine Says:

    Been there and it ain’t pretty. My purse was stolen out of my locker at the health club. There were members, who watched women coming in and locking up their personal items. Of course, if you’re gone for an hour exercising, it was enough time for them to break the lock, take your credit cards and checks and have a great time until you found out and called the police. Of course, we closed all accounts, but what the banks and police don’t tell you is, if you call the telecheck companies, they can cease accepting your checks in 24 hours. That would have saved many companies my thieves went to hundreds of dollars!! Drivers licenses in some states are easy because people sometimes put their social security numbers on them, not a good idea and you don’t have to. Also, some drivers licenses are laminated, so they can pull the picture off and replace it. It’s very sad you can’t even trust your own banking institutions, because the people they hire are there to rip them off too.

  7. Yasmine Says:

    Been there Sloane. My purse was stolen in 2000, while I was playing tennis of course. It was members at the club. They would watch you lock up your things, cut the lock with a lock cutter, and by the time you finished exercising, they would have used your credit cards. It took several months to catch them, and the club REFUSED to put up signs warning the women. Of course, I was the third woman that month. Several others followed being robbed, until the woman was caught. They tell you to close credit cards and bank accounts, but if your checks are stolen, it takes several weeks for that to stop. You should call the telecheck companies, give them the bank routing number, your account number and social security number if it was on your driver’s license – another NO NO. They can stop checks from being processed within 24 hours. It sucks that you can be robbed by the very people supposed to serve you.

  8. Jeanne Says:

    Oh, Sloane, I’m so sorry to hear you’re having to go through this!

    I had an identity theft issue a couple years ago, and I know how violated it can make you feel.

    It’s also frustrating because the burden is on you to clean up the mess.

    I hope that it gets straightned out soon. 🙁

  9. Sloane Says:

    Thank you all for your support. I’m amazed at in our little group how many of us have experienced this kind of thing. What the hell is wrong with our world?

    The police have arrested a 16 year old girl who bought the information of the previous woman from someone.

    When I was 16 I was too worried if a guy would ask me out or where I could buy cigarettes, not someone else’s info.

    The bank has put the money back in my account and is watching it daily. They do want me to cancel and reopen an account. They also insist it is not an inside job. We find that very hard to believe.

  10. Yasmine Says:

    Good luck Sloane.