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.