According to a nice person at the bank, most people spend their days juggling multiple tasks and priorities; crooks only have one thing on their mind all day long: stealing other people’s money. That’s why they are always three steps ahead of everyone else when it comes to scamming. The best you can do is try to make it hard for them, protect your identity, suspect everyone and hope for the best.
While I am sure that crooks are people, too, and like a baseball game or a night out or have families and activities beyond crime, I think the bank official had a point. Like any professional, crooks are likely better at it that the average Joe on the street.
Recently, I had personal experience with such an individual (or individuals). I was contacted by a stranger – a Good Samaritan really – to tell me that she had received a letter asked her to be a mystery shopper on behalf of my publishing company. The letter had included a check which she was to deposit while awaiting further instructions. The instructions would have undoubtedly emptied her bank account before the cheque bounced. She contacted me to see if it was on the up and up – which it wasn’t. What was troubling is that the cheque was a good facsimile of one of the company cheques including the account number and a rough imitation of my signature. The only thing missing was the phone number to make it hard to contact me. The Samaritan looked up my e-mail on the web-site.
Although the goal was to steal from the nice person who fortunately was nice but also suspicious and cynical, my information, resources and reputation were also at stake. I took appropriate measures with my bank and trust that everything will work out fine. I only hope other people haven’t been taken in and robbed.
The thing that bothers me most about this is that it probably means that someone with whom I have done business may be involved in this crime. I try not to dwell on it as that includes a lot of people – some of whom I don’t know very well. Still, it is another little cut in my generally good opinion of my fellow humans. Who can say what their story is; frankly I don’t care. I’ll get over it, I’m sure.
Still, it is a reminder that there are bad people out there, around us all the time – like the hospital workers who were caught selling maternity records to RESP salespeople. I mean, really? Identity theft can’t start too soon, I guess.
Anyway, if you get a letter claiming to be from Bundoran Press looking for mystery shoppers – don’t cash the cheque, call the cops. And maybe spread this message around.
And that’s ten minutes.