I'm betting I speak for most readers when I say that I'd never be able to steal a credit card -- let alone pull something off like the hackers who stole the credit card data from 110 million Target shoppers in late 2013. Even if I could ethically talk myself into it, I'd be too afraid of being caught -- and, sure enough, in our latest monthly look at unusual credit card crimes, all these credit card crooks were nabbed, some of them pretty darn quickly. One, it took five years, but that may be even worse -- that's a long time to be looking over your shoulder and wondering if the authorities are going to show up.
The crime: Using a credit card to buy a drink
Time before being caught: A few seconds
What went down: In Westfield, Mass., an unidentified 29-year-old woman recently gave a bartender at a downtown bar her credit card. Only it wasn't her credit card -- it was his.
The woman had stolen it, taking it out of the bartender's wallet that he left in his coat, apparently in a spot where customers -- or this one, anyway -- could find it, according to local news reports.
The bartender should have called the police, but he was understandably angry and confronted her. She fled, and so, sure, she technically got away -- but not for long. Per the bar's policy, the bartender scanned the woman's driver's license information when she ordered alcohol.
The crime: Using a credit card at multiple locations
Time before being caught: A couple hours
What went down: On Jan. 8, a Layton, Utah woman called 911 after realizing that someone had entered her garage and taken her purse from inside her car. She reported her credit cards stolen, and they were cancelled, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
But apparently a card, while technically cancelled, was still active -- because the woman received several text-message alerts that her card was being used. The woman called the police, who began dispersing to the locations. The police found a couple at a fast food restaurant, eating food they had bought with the card. Turned out the car the couple was driving in was also stolen.
The crime: Stealing a credit card from a shopper
Time before being caught: Less than 24 hours
What went down: This is a holdover from the holidays, but it's a pretty nice story, as far as credit card theft stories go, and too good not to share. According to CBS Boston, a Massachusetts woman had a credit card stolen in December, and the thief was "caught" later that day.
He turned himself in. In fact, he came to the woman's house and handed over her credit card -- and a $200 gift card that he bought with the card. She was probably pretty stunned, given that she hadn't yet discovered the credit card was missing. He explained that he was going to buy Christmas gifts with the gift card, but he didn't, of course, and he apologized.
The woman decided not to press charges.
The crime: Using a company credit card
Time before being caught: It took five years, but caught is caught.
What went down: WYFF-TV is reporting that a South Carolina man, Earl Frank Alexander, Jr., is in trouble for using his employer's company credit card to buy more than $53,000 in personal items between 2008 and 2013.
He also is in trouble for -- get this -- allegedly getting into the payroll accounts and giving himself what amounted to a raise of $106,116.09.