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Credit card thief assumes man's identity, OKs shopping spree

By , CardRatings contributor
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It's been another highly entertaining week of credit card crimes, starting off with a chilling step-by-step account of identity theft, and concluding with a credit card statement that could make your grandmother blush.

Credit cards stolen through identity theft

The Consumerist has a cautionary tale from one of their readers, who goes by the name Dan.

Dan told The Consumerist that a thief obtained some of his personal identifying information. The thief then called Capital One and had the phone number and address changed on Dan's credit cards. Then a few days later, the thief reported the credit cards stolen and asked to have replacement cards sent to the new address.

After the thief began using the new credit cards in New York, Capital One, apparently doing due diligence since Dan didn't live in New York, called to confirm that the purchases were his. Only they called the new number, reaching the thief, who said he was Dan and that the purchases were OK.

The only way the real Dan found out about this was that Capital One sent an email thanking Dan for confirming that the purchases were legitimate. Confused, Dan called Capital One and the sickening truth began to unravel.

Consumerist offers the very wise advice of calling your bank and getting a PIN code or password added to your credit card account, so that your account information can't be changed over the telephone without furnishing that information.

If Agatha Christie wrote a mystery about credit cards…

According to The Express-Times on Sep. 7, local police are looking for a woman who swiped a purse from an elderly woman at a Walmart and then used her credit card at a Sunoco convenience store in Wind Gap, Penn.

The clues to the identity of this culprit? She is a cigarette smoker--she bought cartons of cigarettes at Sunoco--and she very likely is a new dog owner. At least, the police believe this thief is the same woman who used a stolen check to purchase a $2,000 English bulldog puppy.

Bet she didn't get a tip

The Daily Inter Lake, the newspaper for Kalispell, Mont., has a mind-blowing one-sentence item in its police blotter, mixed in with reports of a treed bear and a 100-mile-per-hour car chase. On Sep. 4, a man called authorities because he had used a credit card to pay for a meal at a restaurant in Bigfork, Mont., and, well, the waitress returned to him and claimed that, she, um, "lost" the card.

Well, if nothing else, his humiliation is bigger than most

I can't even fathom what it would be like to be this guy, and just out of a sudden feeling of generosity, I won't pile onto this guy's troubles and mention his name. But, hey, if you're truly curious, you can go to The Western Star, the newspaper that covers the daily goings-on in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, Canada.

Anyway, how would you like to be the guy who has to face a judge and admit that, yes, you're a 31-year-old who used your grandmother's credit card without her permission? That's embarrassing enough, really, but to have to discuss what you bought with your grandmother's card? Shudder.

According to a report on Sep. 8, this man allegedly used his grandmother's credit card to access "telephone services," a term commonly used to describe dating or sex phone lines, although the report did not elaborate further.

He also used the stolen card to participate in some online poker websites.

And to buy, ahem, "male enhancement medication."

Due to the lack of a prior record, the man was not jailed, but was ordered to pay $513.90, twice the amount of the unauthorized charges. The judge ordered the money to go to a food bank, and ordered the man to do 20 hours of community service. The grandmother had already been reimbursed for the charges by her insurance company.

Can't imagine what this family's conversation will be like during future holiday gatherings. Probably lots of long awkward silences.

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