The world of credit card crime recently had a very high-profile victim. As you may have heard, federal authorities revealed this week that Microsoft co-founder and billionaire Paul Allen was recently a victim of identity theft. Here's how it went down.
Proof that identity theft can happen to anyone
First of all, unlike with the criminals coming up, I at least give this guy some praise for trying to steal from someone who isn't collecting aluminum cans and recycling them for grocery money. Still, kids, especially you impressionable ones who are trying to decide between becoming a football player, a lawyer or going into a life of crime, remember that stealing, no matter who is being ripped off, is wrong.
Personally, when I first heard about this story, I loved the idea that Allen noticed he was being ripped off. Not that I would know, but I assume that's how billionaires stay billionaires.
But then I had to read the article, which spoiled all of my fun. According to AP, it was the criminal's bank that noticed something was amiss, and they contacted the authorities.
If Brandon Lee Price, an AWOL soldier, did what he is being accused of by federal investigators, he somehow got a hold of Allen's Citibank credit card number, then used the old trick of changing the address on that credit card to his own home address in Pittsburgh. Then Price called Citibank and reported the card missing and had a new one sent to his home.
From there, Price made a $658.81 payment on a loan from the Armed Forces Bank and spent $278.18 at a Pittsburgh GameStop store (that's where any sympathy I might have for crooks disappear, when instead of using their ill-gotten gains to perhaps get food and medicine -- it would still be wrong, kids! -- they go off and buy computer games). Long story short, though: Price was caught, and is probably cooling his heels in some cell right now.
Not exactly Dad of the Year…
In Fort Thomas, Ky., police are currently looking for a man who entered St. Elizabeth Hospital and apparently managed to pilfer a few credit cards from purses, reports The Kentucky Post. What sets this guy apart from the other garden-variety credit card thieves out there?
Surveillance video shows that he brought his little boy with him, probably about two years old. It's the perfect cover. Concerned dad walking the hospital halls with a toddler doesn't look like a devious credit card thief.
But this one is.
But he looks great compared to these two
Two women, Christina Amaya, 29, and Elizabeth Marks, 46, were recently arrested for allegedly lifting 81-year-old Morris McCoy's wallet in Lodi, Calif., and using his credit card at a Kohl's and then at a JC Penney department store, which is where the two women were arrested.
Reports indicate that these women approached McCoy directly with a plausible cover story. They were nurses from the hospital, just there to check in on McCoy, who had been released from the hospital the day before after having a heart attack.
According to the Lodi News-Sentinel, the women were wearing scrubs and seemed authentic to McCoy, so he invited them in. The "nurses" checked on him all right, and managed to leave with his wallet and credit cards.
However, McCoy had decided something wasn't right about the women, and shortly after they left, he went looking for his wallet, determined it was missing, and then called the police.
Police believe that the two have robbed before and were making it a habit to target elderly people living in mobile homes because, as we all know, that's where the money is.
But here's where the story really gets good…
This story of Morris McCoy being robbed made the media rounds in and around Lodi, and according to the Lodi News-Sentinel, Sacramento resident DeLois Johnson couldn't help but feel sorry for McCoy when she saw him on television.
And who wouldn't? McCoy is in a wheelchair, having lost his legs to diabetes. So, yes, let's recap. These "nurses" stole a wallet from an elderly man with no legs, in a wheelchair, and who had had a heart attack the day before.
And these nurses, incidentally, when they came to call on McCoy, brought a 4-year-old child with them. What is it with these criminal parents bringing along their kids when they steal? What, you can't afford a babysitter? I mean, you're making all this money robbing people blind. You'd think you could put some of that scratch toward some quality child care. That's the trouble with the world. Back in the day, common criminals had standards. Why I oughta…
Ahem, sorry. Anyway, as KXTV-News reports, Johnson was in possession of two wheelchairs that her late mother had used. One was a new electric wheelchair retailing for around $4,500, and the other is a light aluminum one, so light that McCoy can now drive by himself and lift the wheelchair out of his car.
So she contacted her local TV station, was put in touch with McCoy and had the wheelchairs sent to him.
McCoy wasn't likely going to be out any money -- legally, the most you can lose if your credit card is stolen is $50 as long as you report the theft within two months -- but certainly the experience had to be lousy for his morale. But thanks to DeLois Johnson, what might have been a low point in his life is now a high point. Her gesture may not balance all the karmic forces in the world, but it's a start.