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I've been the victim of credit card fraud 4 times.  The first time was when I was a youth mentor to 'at risk' kids during my undergrad years.  There was a big trip to the San Antonio zoo with all of us who were mentors and our kids and we all went and had a great time.  Two weeks later, I opened my American Express bill (and thought, "come to think of it -- where is my Amex card??") and saw that the bill (it was a charge card not a credit card -- this was the 90's) was over $500 -- most of which came from a single Wal-Mart charge.

I thought to myself, what in the hell did I spend $500 at Wal-Mart on?! I kept thinking, I must have lost my mind -- and why one Earth would I spend $500 at Wal-mart?? 

You know when you can feel your neurons firing...and suddenly they collide at just the right moment to give you that Oprah 'A-ha' moment?  Well, I thought back to the last time (before my apparent sleep-walking Wal-mart spree) that I'd used the card: the Zoo. And that made me wonder if the only person other than me, who'd had access to my purse that day had taken my card. So...putting my detective skills to use that I'd acquired from years of reading mystery novels, I drove over the youth's house I was mentoring and snooped in their garbage: new TV boxes, new stereo boxes, new everything. Interesting.

I called Amex and told them that my card was stolen, and that the Wal-mart charges were fraudulent and said that I allegedly (daughter of an attorney, can you tell?) believed it was the youth I was mentoring (due to my super stellar Nancy Drew detective skills).  Amex removed the charges and I went on my merry way. 

The next two times it happened were the result of filling up with gas along the highways of Texas.  The first of these times, I was driving between Dallas and Tyler, Texas -- to pick out a suit for the funeral home to put on my grandfather who had just been killed in a car accident 2 days before.  I remember feeling like something at that gas station was 'not quite right' and telling my sister (who was in the car with me) that I thought this place felt weird.  But, I was still in shock from all that was going on, and it was a traumatic day so I shrugged it off.  Two days later, video games were bought online with my card in Montreal and the Czech Republic. 

Another time, driving between Dallas and Houston, the same thing happened -- at a gas station -- and again, two days later, some toys were bought with my card in California.

And now, in London...

The day our sea-crate arrived (back in July) was exhausting and after a full day of unpacking, we wanted to order take-away.  So we phoned in an order to Noodle Hut, and they brought our mediocre (at best) Chinese food.  We thought it was pretty unremarkable and never ordered from there again...or so we thought.

This weekend the Canadian and I logged into our Barclay's account and noticed a charge from Noodle Hut on Wednesday. At first, we thought it must have been delayed from our order back in July, but no, we found that charge. Then we thought (much like I thought with the Wal-mart charge) 'did we eat at Noodle Hut on Wednesday?'.  I think one's first instinct is to believe that, surely, it was us.  Surely we've just blanked out and spent $500 at Wal-mart or £29.99 ($50) at Noodle Hut -- because the alternative is, someone stole it, and that just feels a little too heartbreaking. 

Needless to say, we did not order from Noodle Hut on Wednesday.  So, naturally we called our bank.  And they instructed us to and resolve it with the merchant.*  So, the Canadian printed out our bank statement from July to show Noodle Hut where they had charged us in July and to explain that we hadn't ordered from them since and headed over there on Saturday to talk to them in person.

You can guess where this is going right?

They're closed.  Shut down. Gone. Poof. 
They took our money (and probably lots of other people's) and ran.
To put the cherry on the parfait, the Canadian tried the number again today and wound up talking to the landlord. According to him, they were late on their rent (shocking I know), so he went over there to talk them on Friday (our fraudulent charge was posted last Wednesday) and the place was an absolute mess, trash everywhere, and a lot of his restaurant equipment was stolen.  Nice, right?

But here's the thing.  We can afford to lose £29.99 -- and this is a hassle more than anything.  But what if we couldn't?  What if that was our grocery money for the week, and it was all we had?  This is what makes me angry about people who steal -- they give no thought about what they're doing to people.  This is the kind of thing, especially when done in greater amounts, that can actually ruin people's lives.  This then spins me into greater philosophical 'life' questions about ethics, and where/when we acquire them, and is it learned or is it just inherent etc.  But that's for a different blog, and a different day.  Or over a Pimm's cup. 

In any case.  Noodle Hut scheisters, wherever you are, I hope Karma catches up with you. 

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*Bank of America is our bank back home, and we have had some serious beefs with them, but I will say this: when my money was taken, it was credited immediately back into my account and then the bank tried to work with the merchant to sort out the details -- not, making us go to the merchant and talk to them first and then filling out paperwork to hopefully get our money back.
9/26/2011 12:04:22 am

Reason #465785 why customer service in this country sucks. When our credit card was compromised we had to contact the merchant as well. Why? It's the bank's job to protect me, or so I thought. Luckily the merchant was 02 and they were able to refund us the money but still...like you said...such a hassle.

Hope things get remedied soon!

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9/27/2011 06:44:47 am

My mom was a victim of cc fraud once! Knock on wood I never have to go through that. Bummer!

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9/29/2011 05:19:12 pm

I had to replace a major US based credit card during my first few months in the UK. I had notified them before leaving the US that it would be with me here and someone cloned it in the US and went on a CVS shopping spree spending $2,000 on two occasions in two different stores. It wasn't until they went to Walmart that someone at the card company thought it might be fraud. All that AFTER I had clearly said I would not be in the US. What a pain that was. It sounds as if fixing the issue is even worse here. Did they ever give you a refund?

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When we flew out of Heathrow to Dubai my husband bought some birkenstock flip flops. When we returned we saw that he also bought two flights to Riga. Fortunately our card company (Morgan Stanley) were ace and all was sorted by them immediately.

But your point that stealing affects some people very badly--not everyone can afford to be stolen from, is a very real issue and very sad.

Sounds like Noodle Hut's karma is already bashing them over the head if they're having such a bad time of life that they behave like this!

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7/11/2012 04:40:56 am

Thanks to your post, I found Weebly and made my own blog too, thanks.

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