It was a pleasant fall morning, but when the phone rang it had an ominous undertone. I somehow knew that anyone who would disturb my autumnal reverie would not bear good news.
Indeed, my credit card company had detected suspicious activity on my account and was graciously letting me know. I quickly dispatched the helpful attendant, telling her to cancel the card. None of the charges would appear on my account, as they had been detected before being processed. Apparently the miscreant did not have the proper expiration date, only my name and account number. I thanked the attendant for her conscientiousness and thought no more of the incident.
But, this identity thief was not so easily thwarted. A month later, he began to charge very small amounts to another of my accounts. However, since it was an account I rarely used, his activities were immediately detected. Another helpful attendant informed me of the new developments. I cancelled that card as well, and began to wonder if credit cards were really worth all this hassle.
Evidence of the misdeeds appeared in my mailbox a couple weeks later. “Big Time” muscle-building supplements promised to give me rippling biceps. Whoever this identity thief was, he was at least not letting himself turn to flab without a fight. Apparently the identity thief was long on brawn and short on brains. He had not bothered to give them his address when he ordered the item, so it was sent to me. However, he was required to provide the company with an email address in order to establish his account. Apparently believing that email addresses could not be traced, he gave them one, which the company helpfully provided to me. I quickly traced it to the name of an auctioneer in the deep South.
With this evidence in hand, I visited my local police station. They seemed most interested in my findings, insubstantial though they were. I provided the information to my credit card company as well, in the affidavit of loss they required me to complete. But if I expected to hear that the auctioneer would be further developing his biceps in prison, I was to be disappointed. I heard no more from the authorities, and later learned that only when losses are in the thousands of dollars do these criminals see justice. The cost of prosecution simply makes it impractical to prosecute these cases unless losses are substantial and severe penalties are involved. Apparently the defrauding auctioneer remains at large, continuing to charge others for his muscle building supplements.