For almost 3 years I worked as a fraud prevention specialist for an international bank, working with everything from fraudulent transactions to full-on identity fraud. I’ve seen my fair share of both legitimate fraud and customers trying to get money out of the bank in various, sometimes very creative ways. This story, though, will always stick with me, and the absurdity of this conversation still brings me joy to this day.
At the beginning of my shift, I pulled up my customer(“CM”)’s credit card, which was queued for a fraud review due to several suspicious payments to a shady portfolio management company(“PMC”) over the past 90 days or so. The charges totaled around $12k and put the card significantly over its credit limit. I’d attempted to contact CM twice before, and the account had been placed on hold to prevent any potential thievery.
Since CM hadn’t communicated with us at all up to this point, we hadn’t received a payment in almost 3 months, and his checking account with us had been emptied, our collections department was pursuing him relentlessly. CM didn’t seem too concerned about this whole fraud thing though, which is uncharacteristic of most humans. I knew something was up.
This fateful morning, seemingly not realizing who was calling him, CM picked up my call.
>Me: Hello, my name is Scotty and I’m calling with the Fraud Department of the bank. I’m reaching out for CM?
>CM: That’s me, are you people still calling about my money?
>Me: Yes I’m calling about your credit card, there have been several large charges from PMC over the last few months, your card is over its credit limit, and your checking account has been fully withdrawn. I want to make sure you’re aware of this.
>CM: Yes, I saw the transactions. I didn’t know what they were but I looked up PMC and hired a PI to check it out, it’s a couple guys working out of a house. I’ve had to do so much work to get that money back. I wish you people would stop calling me about this, it’s not my problem anymore.
>Me: So you investigated this yourself and reached out to the company, are they reversing the charges?
>CM: No they sent me a check for the $12k. I deposited it at a different bank last week. My experience with you people has been the worst. It is illegal to collect on fraud charges, you know that? Since I didn’t give them my card info, it’s fraud, you can’t collect. It’s that simple.
Now, I can tell CM did some googling in an attempt to justify his keeping the money. Fraud is defined as, “I didn’t give them my info,” rather than “I didn’t authorize those charges,” so he’s on the right track there. However, this stuff needs to be disputed through the bank or card issuer to ensure everyone gets their money, and prevent all sorts of shenanigans.
CM really does seem convinced that this is his money now. He did put in a lot of hard work, after all. Now I’m no lawyer, but this seems like a pretty clear case of Conversion of Property. Someone took the bank’s money, gave it to CM, and CM kept it. CM is engaging in shenanigans.
>CM, continuing: You know what? I can’t deal with this. I’m filing a complaint with the CFPB and they’re going to hound your asses. I want to send a letter to your bosses about this.
>Me, feigning empathy: I’m so sorry to hear about this situation, the last thing we want is to violate anyone’s rights as a consumer. I can get you an address. What are you going to write in the letter?
>CM: I’m going to explain everything. You people are trying to get money out of me, when I didn’t do any of this stuff! I did my own investigating since you’re not capable of doing that yourselves, and I got my money back ON MY OWN! It came out of MY credit card and I am not paying a dime.
This seemed like as good a time as ever to give out the actual address for the Office of the President. I’d never given this address to a customer before, but I was presented with a unique opportunity to walk someone into admitting, in writing, that they were trying to keep the bank’s money.
>Me: I’ll give you the address to the Office of the President. This is a very important matter and I want to make sure it goes right to the top. (Address). When you’re writing your letter, make sure to include every detail you can remember. You should provide the contact information for the company and explain how you got it, and attach all of your communication with them if you have it. Make sure to explain clearly that you’ve already received a refund for the fraud charges and express why you believe the bank cannot collect this money.
>CM: Thank you for your help, should I get it notarized too?
>Me: Yes, that would be very helpful.
Around a month later, I checked on CM’s account out of curiosity. Sure enough, it’s been closed but not sent to collections which is strange. Instead I see this in the notes:
>USER | MAIL | DOCUMENT RCVD // CM LTTR // ADDR OOTP (The madman actually did it)
>USER | OOTP | REFER TO LEGAL // DO NOT SERVICE // XFER TO [Extension for legal I guess]
>USER | OOTP | CLOSED PERM // XFER TO [Ext] DO NOT SERVICE
That last one speaks for itself. Thanks for reading.