Tuesday, September 10, 2013

KBTuesday: The Professional

While I was working as the Store Manage of the KB in Waltham in the spring of 2002, the PlayStation 2 was the hot video game system of the moment. And having gone through a few generations of systems I was aware of the various scams involving them. Be it theft of the system, fraudulent returns, or the subject of this tale, The Stolen Credit Card.

I knew from experience that someone coming in to to buy 2 systems with a credit card and buying nothing else was a red flag that the credit card being used was stolen. However I was not allowed to just say not to a sale based upon this reason alone. A man came into my store one night to buy 2 PS2s and nothing else. Knowing the red flag, I made sure to check his Driver's License. Everything looked fine, I ran the order and out he went. A month or so later a Detective from the Waltham PD came into my store to ask a few questions about a case he was working on. He told me about a stolen credit card ring that was being run out of a local gym. He said the card was used at my store on a specific date. He gave me the amount of the sale and I KNEW exactly what was bought and that I had rung up that transaction. I told the officer that I checked his ID. The officer felt guilty and didn't want to show me the file he was holding. He told not to feel bad, before even showing it to me! He told me that this guy was a Professional Thief and that this was his craft. He was a Master Barber, or Master Plumber, just of stealing. My pride demanded I see the file. So he opened it and I saw the name of the woman who owned the credit card. The woman, as opposed to the drastically racially different MAN I sold the systems to. The name was nowhere near an ambiguous name either. I was furious at myself! I was the Store Manager and I fell for that scam? But the Officer calmed me down and told me that he sees it all the time. That hardly anyone that checks ID in America was trained on how to do so properly. He told me I was not at fault at all (and thankfully neither was my company!) and to just be more careful next time.

I do not remember if they caught the guy. And that is not the point. The point was that a Professional Thief will rob you blind with a skill that comes from years of practice and training. Just like an Electrician who's worked on hundreds of jobs, this thief had stolen hundreds of credit cards and knew what he was doing. He had scammed plenty of other retail workers. I wasn't alone, I wasn't special, I wasn't an idiot that was not doing his job properly. I was dealing with a pro.

The only way to stop a pro is...you can't. All you can do is do your best to reduce to opportunity and increase the amount of awareness people have that there are other people around. Be there and paying attention, but even then, the really good ones will get you.

Sadly this story came up at my current job recently. A co-worker robbed us blind. Chipping away at us slowly but surely for months. And none of us caught it until too late. Fortunately the big job being planned was stopped, and that's all you can really ask for. But it does not hurt any less. It fucking sucks in an office so small (10 employees including the owner) that one of us took advantage of all of our trust.

But I told this story to them, because it's pure truth. The person that betrayed us was a Pro. None of us was caught sleeping, nor did a bad job. None of us were expecting a pro. The person is gone, and a close tight-knit group has gotten closer. Adversity does that.

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