Want to see what a secret shopper scam actually looks like? Tracey sent us scans of the one that arrived in her mailbox today. It included a letter printed on cut-and-paste letterhead, a form, and a check for $4,200. The idea behind this sort of scam—also called an advance fee fraud or wire transfer scam—is to get the victim to deposit the check, wait for it to clear, then wire back the bulk of the money. Weeks or months later, the check will turn out to be fake, and by law the victim owes the bank for the full amount of the check.
The BBB has given us a heads up about a new scam that targets holiday shoppers — pop-up internet electronics stores that only accept payments via wire transfer.
Wiring money has gotten a lot more difficult since September 11th. This we know, and many of us are willing to put up with the more convoluted process. Still, when you’re caught in the looping bowels of that convoluted process during an emergency, and companies like Western Union treat you like a criminal as you try to get cash to a loved one, you start wondering if terrorists are the ones really being inconvenienced.
These days, when I want to use my credit card, it isn’t enough to just sign the slip and be done with it. I have to sign the slip. Then I have to show some ID. Then I have to stand stock still as a clerk scrutinizes my face. And then I have to type in an arbitrary 5 digit pin number. Only then will Mastercard be convinced that I am not some brown-toothed Russian lottery scammer.
A coherent rant about trying to wire money through HSBC, over their seemingly deep objections. It’s a redtape streamered, Kafka’s “The Trial”-esque implosion of customer service… a banking failure so perfect in its unlogic, it’s almost a work of art. “Gari”, who’s chosen to represent himself online as Zod from Superman 2, sent in the following: