So, I’ve been trying to think of any story worthy of this subreddit for a while now. So, how about one of the times I caught someone actively committing identity theft?
warning: some lovely profanity
TL;DR at bottom; it’s very long.
Little backstory: My call center was a service center for over 50+ banks in the US. Third Party Vendor. Thankfully, I no longer work there. At the time, I was specifically in the fraud department, so catching people actively commiting fraud happened occasionally. Mostly it was just remedying accounts with fraud transactions and dealing with angry people screaming over their cards getting declined.
This little scammy man called in so many times. I spoke with him twice and caught him stealing a family member’s credit card and identity. Here’s what went down.
M = Me
LD = My Lead, the star investigator who listened once shown the evidence
FD = The Fraudster, our main dude, probably in his 20s/30s (age is important here)
AW = Accomplice Woman, clueless woman roped into a mess, also in her 20s/30s
M: Thanks you for calling Third Party on behalf of 6/2 Bank. My name is Shimmer_bee, how can I assist you today?
FD: Uh, yea, I’m trying to buy some gift cards at Publix and my card is getting declined.
M: Ok, I’ll be happy to assist, may I have your card number and CVV?
M: And your name and SSN?
M: And your date of birth?
M: Alright, thanks for providing that information. Let me place you on hold while I access your account.
I put him on hold and immediately start scorwing this account for anything else out of place. Now, the date of birth on this account is listed as like 5/18/1948. The person I’m talking with is in their 20s, 30s tops; I can tell just by the voice. They’re supposed to be in their 70s or 80s [RED FLAG]. There’ve been 2 new cards issued in the past month after another the previous ones were lost [RED FLAG]. I start going through the charges and they’re for places like clubs, liquor shops, fast food places, and big box stores/pharmacies. Now, the big box stores and pharmacies, those transactions are all like $500, $750, $200…gift cards. Those are gift cards. None of this matched the prior spending on the account before the card was lost the first time. Also, grandpa hitting up the clubs? Ha. [BIG. FUCKING. RED. FLAG.]
I check back in with the cardholder and tell him it will be just a few minutes longer, my system was having trouble. He was absolutely chill with that.
I decided to call our escalations line for a second look. I’ve already seen a note from our investigations team that they’ve researched the account and that all is fine; the person calling is the cardholder. The investigations team runs a background report and pulls calls on accounts sent to them (or that’s what they’re supposed to do). Now, I know there’s something wrong, because there is CLEARLY some shit going down on this account. He’s called in about 7 times this week! [RED FLAG] The escalations line tells me to proceed with unblocking the account and reaffirms the investigations team’s decision. I can no longer take any protective action on the account. I’m pissed.
So I go back to the caller and start the process of unblocking the account.
Me: Thanks for holding, I just need to go over some charges with you?
FD: It’s fine.
Me: Ok, so three days ago I see a charge for $167.32 at (strip club), is that something you attempted?
FD: I’ve been letting my grandson use my card, that was something he did.
Me: Ok, and I see two days ago, $700.00 at CVS. Is that something you attempted?
Me: And then I see here today, $2,000 at Publix. Is that what you were trying to put through? [$2,000 was the real amount. Are you fucking kidding me? AT PUBLIX?!?!]
FD: Yea, my grandson needs some gift cards, he’s here with me.
At this point, I have to remove the hold from his account. I’m fuming, but I do it. I just know that this is not the real cardholder, but I have to abide by what the escalations agent and the investigations team said. He makes the transaction and $2,000 of fraudulently purchased gift cards goes through. End of call.
I leave work that day so frustrated. I just hoped he’d call back and get caught, because this was going to be a BIG LOSS for my company since we actively let the identity theft go on. It was going on like $5,000 dollars at this point.
A week or so passed and I’d kinda forgotten about it at this point. We had other, much funnier calls that week. Poorly executed identity theft calls on accounts where the cardholder has been marked as deceased. The usual. Then it happened; just my luck, my friend calls back in.
M: Thanks you for calling Third Party on behalf of 6/2 Bank. My name is Shimmer_bee, how can I assist you today?
FD: Hey, yea, I’m trying to make a purchase and my card’s getting declined.
M: Ok, I’ll be happy to assist, I just need to verify some information first.
We proceed with the verification and as soon his name and date of birth pop up, I know who this is. I tell him I’ll put him on a brief hold while I look over the account.
Holy. Fuck. At this point he’s called in about 3 more times after getting declined. Twenty. Thousand. Dollars. In. Fraud. $20,000!!!! I wanted to snap so bad. But again, I had to hold up the decision made by the investigations team previously. Only, when I look at the account, I see another agent has gone “nah, fuck that,” and referred the dude to the bank. His account is LOCKED DOWN. The account has been sent back off for reinvestigation. I start feeling cocky, because this guy has finally been caught. So, I go back to him and tell him the good news.
Me: Thanks so much for holding, sorry about that wait time. It looks like at this time the hold that’s on your account requires you to visit your local branch for further assistance.
FD: Ok, but this is my grandfather’s card, he’s letting me use it.
YO, GOT’EM. I knew for a fact this was the same person that called last time, and now we’ve got him on a recorded line saying he’s both the grandfather and the grandson. Bruh. You done. Also, you just verified on someone else’s account that you’re not listed on, being the grandson and all. Instant shutdown.
Me: Unfortunately sir, your grandfather will need to visit the local branch at his first convenience. There’s nothing more we can do at this time. This is a branch hold.
FD: Nah, fuck that. I wanna speak with your supervisor.
Me: 🙂 Just a moment sir, let me get someone on the line.
So, I call the escalations line again with a huge smile on my face. This man has outed himself. I’m putting it in the notes. No more fraud for you, mister. My lead picks up and things only get better from here. (Note, she’s in the cube right in front of mine, so I can lean over and point stuff out.)
Me: So, hey, I have a fraudster on the line and now they want to speak with a sup.
LD: How do you know it’s a fraudster?
Me: Well…for starters, he’s claimed to be both the grandfather and grandson on the two calls I’ve had him on.
LD: Ok, but did you pull a background report?
Me: No, I didn’t. let me do that. Here’s the account. Grandpa/grandson’s been in the strip clubs.
My lead is still skeptical while I explain a little more about the account and pull up the background report. She’s about to tell me just to leave it be and remove the hold (per the investigations team report), when I find the most incriminating evidence and nearly scream with joy.
Me: LD, IT’S A WOMAN!
Me: The cardholder, they’re supposed to be a woman! I’m speaking with a man!
LD: still hesitant at this point** You know the background report isn’t reliable if you just pull gender from the sources? That’s not enough evidence and it’s likely wro-
Me: I GOT THE DRIVERS LICENCE. LD, it’s the driver’s licence, the cardholder is a woman!
At this point, I’m almost in tears. I’ve caught this man absolutely red handed. I did my job, even when others didn’t do their’s properly. If the investigations team would have pulled the background report in detail, they would have seen the gender. This would have been stopped. If you only pull a basic report, the gender can often be inaccurate. That might have been what the investigations team did, so in that case the gender listed was a crapshoot. But I was able to source this straight from the cardholder’s driver’s licence by pulling up the detailed report. There was no denying it, we had someone pretending to be this poor woman, racking up $20,000 in fraud chargers.
LD: So you’ve spoken to them before?
I go on to explain everything I found. The wild charges, the cards that were sent out after the others were lost, the same person calling, and the investigations team’s judgement. Lead (who’s now in the investigations department) starts going through the account in more detail. She notices that nothing’s been changed on the account, per say, but someone is definitely doing something here. So, she advises me to call the cardholder on the phone number listed in the background report. I do. The same man answers. I tell him again I’m still trying to get my sup on the line, it will just be a few more minutes.
It wasn’t. She reviewed the account and pulled calls for nearly an hour. This man waited. For an hour.
Then, she finally found the original call where the card was reported lost. What do you know? The person who called in is a woman. We have solid proof now, and she places the highest security hold we have on the account. No one can remove this hold except for leads and above. I feel vindicated.
THEN, my lead calls the number on the background report. I get put on hold by the fraudster. My lead asks for MRS. Name. He hangs up on her and comes back to me.
By now, my lead has ok-ed me to transfer the call so she can take over. I decide to stay on the line.
Me: Thanks so much for holding sir, sorry about the long hold time. I do have my supervisor on the line by the name of Lead, she’ll be assisting you from here. Is there anything else I can assist with before I disconnect?
Me: Alright. Well again, my name is Shimmer_bee, thank you for calling Third Party on behalf of 6/2 Bank and we’d like to thank you for being a valued client. mutes phone**
FD: huffs** hello?
LD: Yes, hi. My name is Lead and I just need to inform this call is being recorded or monitored for quality assurance purposes.
FD: Yea, yea. I need my card unlocked.
LD: And can I have your name, sir, please?
FD: Mr. Name.
LD: And you previously reported the card lost, twice?
FD: Yea, the first one went to the wrong address.
LD: And what was the last transaction you were trying to do?
FD: The one for (bitcoin funding website).
LD: For $300?
LD: Ok, and I see there was another transaction here, (suspicious transaction)?
FD: Yes, that was my grandson.
LD: Oh, I’m sorry, my agent said that YOU were the grandson.
FD: knows he’s caught in the lie now** Uhh..
LD: I’m sorry sir, but I’ll need to speak with MRS. Name, is she there?
FD: She can’t come to the phone, she’s sick. C’mon just unlock the card, all the other agents did it.
LD: I’m sorry sir, I can’t speak with anyone but Mrs. Name. I have to speak with her to unlock the card.
There’s a bit of shuffling and muffled arguing before a woman comes on the phone.
AW: Yes, this is Mrs. Name speaking.
LD: Hi there, Mrs. Name. My name is Lead and I just need to inform this call is being recorded or monitored for quality assurance purposes.
AW: Ok, can you unlock my card now?
LD: Well ma’am, I do have to verify you before we proceed.
My lead asks the verification questions. The accomplice is obviously being fed the answers. She also sounds like she’s in her 20s/30s.
LD: Ok, so the the most recent transaction was for (bitcoin funding website), is that correct?
AW: Uh, yes?
LD: Alright wonderful. Let me place you on a brief hold and then we can see about getting that security hold removed.
She gets placed back on hold while my lead resends the account for investigation. She included the calls and all my notes. The account is notated that the hold cannot be removed until we speak with the true cardholder.
LD: Ok, thanks so much for holding. Unfortunately, it looks like you will have to go to a branch to have this hold removed.
AW: Oh, ok.
There’s more shuffling before the fraudster comes back on the phone.
FD: I thought you were going to remove the hold?!?!
LD: Sir, at this time I can only speak with MRS. Name.
FD: Fuck that. FUCK THIS BANK. Unlock the card!
LD: Sir, if you continue to use that language, I will need to disconnect from the call. At this time, Mrs. Name will need to go to her local branch with two forms of ID and a utility bill to have them faxed in for review before we are able to remove the hold.
FD: NAH, SHE AIN’T GOIN’ ANYWHERE. FUCK THIS BANK, I’M CLOSING MY ACCOUNT. THIS IS MY MONEY!
LD: Again, sir. If you continue to use that lang-
FD: FUCK YOU, BITCH! Y’ALL A SORRY ASS BANK. I’M CLO-
LD: Sir, I’ve warned you about the language. At this time I will need to disconnect the call. Once again, thank you for calling Third Party on behalf of 6/2 Bank, and we’d like to thank you for being a valued client.
She hung up while he was still screaming.
From what I heard, the old woman did eventually visit her branch and we were able to inform her of someone in her house/family stealing her identity. Her card was shut down. I hope she filed charges. From what I’ve been told, if it’s someone you know and/or family who runs up your credit card fraudulently, you have to press charges for the dispute to be processed. In the end, there were over $20,000 in fraudulent charges. I got a lovely $20 extra on my next check and was soon put on the escations line myself. Not my worst call, but definitely a memorable one.
TL;DR: Man steals identity of ambiguously named grandmother, runs up $5,000 in fraudulent charges. Inaccurate information prevents me from putting a stop to his madness on his first call with me. Second call results in him being confronted about the true cardholder being a woman. Man puts accomplice on phone. Account is still locked down and cardholder is requested to visit the branch. Screaming ensures. The account gets shut down after nearly $20,000 of fraudulent transactions occurred. I get sweet vindication knowing I was right all along.