The criminal mind

I think there was a show on television a while back called something like "America's dumbest criminals". I believe I saw an episode or two and was amazed at the stupid things that people do.  So, I just wanted to take some time to share my own personal experiences with the matter.

I'm growing quite nicely into the stereotype of absent-minded professor.  Twice this year I have lost my wallet.  The first time, I left it on the top of my car at a gas station and drove off.  I figured someone would turn it in to the gas station manager so I could come back and pick it up.  Well, I was wrong.  They took my wallet and started making charges on my cards.  The second time happened just a couple days ago.  I was missing my wallet when I went in to school yesterday, but I thought perhaps it was just in some crevice of my couch or something like that, so I figured I'd look for it later.

The irony that I wanted to point out brings us back to the point of criminals being stupid.  In each scenario, the way I found out that my wallet had been acquired by a dishonest person was by an email notification from Redbox that I had made a rental (which, obviously I didn't make myself).  While I'm extremely grateful to the person who stole found my wallet (in each case) for alerting me to the fact, I'm entirely dumbfounded that they would do this.  To those who may be unfamiliar to Redbox, let me explain how this happened.  When you make a purchase from Redbox, at the end of the purchase you have the option (it's not required) to send a confirmation email to your email account.  If you opt for this, you type in your email address and then it's sent to you.  For your convenience, Redbox keeps your email address in its database, linked to your credit card number.  So, when you check out in the future, it pops up with the same page (Do you want an email confirmation?) with your email address already populating the entry box.  On this page, you can select "yes" or "no" as to whether you want the email sent.  So, in each case, the person who acquired my wallet and used my card to rent the DVD/video game actually clicked "yes" on this page.  I'm not sure why.  I can't imagine what they were thinking.  Maybe they thought that it would be like teasing me--saying "haha.  I just rented something using your card."  Maybe they didn't even realize what they were saying "yes" to when they clicked the "yes" button.  Maybe they thought that they wouldn't get their DVD if they clicked "no".

I'm amazed at this level of sheer stupidity.  I mean, each individual purchase made by whomever it is is listed on my recent history on my credit card, so I know exactly where they've been.  They're almost begging me to come find them.  I'm not complaining--by any means.  If anything, I'm grateful that my wallet was found by someone that's so stupid about how to abuse someone else's identity.

The other thing that's nice is that credit card companies are very good about reversing any charges that I didn't make.  That's why I rarely carry cash on me (I think I had about $10 in my wallet when I lost it this time, and none the previous time).  The cash in my wallet is gone ($10--no big deal).  The money spent on my credit cards, I don't have to pay.  Of course, this does make me worry about who takes the hit.  I assume the credit card company demands their money back from the merchant, so if the merchant can't get their hands on the person committing the fraud, then I suppose they take the hit.  I do feel bad for them, since it kind of makes a victim out of them.  But, on the other hand, I'm also rather upset that Walmart approved three transactions, totaling almost $500 all in one night on my card without any proof that the person using the card was actually me.  That's why I'm grateful when people actually ask to see my ID when I use my credit card.  So, while I think that it's Walmart's fault for completing a transaction on a stolen card, I still do feel bad if they're the ones taking a hit on this.  But, knowing Walmart they probably have some sort of credit card fraud insurance or something, so they don't take the hit either.  But little Ma and Pa shops, I would feel bad for them losing money.  I am grateful that the credit card companies take care of the charges, so I don't have to be responsible for them, but I still do worry about it.