Phone scams, beanbag lounges and...cannibalism?

Every couple of weeks in this space we look at the more unusual credit card crimes making headlines. Most of the crimes lately, though, have been pretty ordinary, garden-variety, hardly unusual… well, unless cannibalism counts.

Not for the sensitive stomach

So maybe you've heard about what happened in Sao Paulo, Brazil? As quite a few media outlets have reported, police recently arrested three people suspected of killing at least two women.

It was tragic enough that these women were killed after being lured to a house to apply for a job as a nanny. And it is sickening enough that these cannibalistic criminals then allegedly ate portions of the two women. But allegedly, they also used their victims' body parts to make stuffed meat pies.

Then they sold those pies -- to neighbors, schools and hospitals, according to a report from TV station KTLA.

Oh, the credit card connection? One of the suspects allegedly used the credit card of one of the murder victims; the credit card company then apparently contacted the police, who then tracked down the alleged maneaters. Unless you're a criminal, the paper trail is one major benefit that credit cards have over cash. Credit cards can't stop crimes, but they can sure help solve them.

Phone scam dangles lower interest rates

Earlier this month, a resident of Niceville, Fla., was scammed out of nearly $1,000 over the phone, reports The Destin Log, a twice-weekly newspaper of Destin, Florida.

The victim received a phone call from a representative claiming to be from "Life Time Services National Foundation of Consumer Credit." Sounds good and authentic, but a quick Google search shows that it doesn't exist.

But most of us don't take the time to Google the caller's credentials while we're talking to the caller.

The caller told the victim that because she had an excellent credit rating, she was qualified to be part of their credit card consolidation services at an interest rate of 6 percent instead of her current 27 percent. The victim was then told that the service was available thanks to the 2011 Dodd Frank Consumer Credit Bill. (It's really the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, but close enough, and very impressive use of current events in this scam.)

So the Niceville woman fell for everything, hook, line and sinker, giving the caller her date of birth, social security number and a credit card number. The caller then asked the victim to wait for a phone call from a financial analyst who would give her an approval number.

While the victim was on hold, the line went dead.

And then it dawned on her…

She immediately called her credit card company, which then informed her that an $895 charge had already gone through.

Another strange purchase with a stolen credit card

Kapresha Ajita Johnson, of Houston, is accused of stealing her co-worker's credit card number while working the graveyard shift at the Texas Medical Center, according to TV station KTRK.

This story stood out to me in a number of ways. First, not exactly the nicest thing you can do to a fellow worker. I'm guessing she's not going to be very popular at the next holiday office party… OK, assuming she's charged and found guilty, Johnson probably won't be employed come the holidays.

Secondly, during the graveyard shift? Really? As if it isn't hard enough working all night, this unnamed victim has to now worry about co-workers stealing from her?

But thirdly, what really jumped out at me was what Johnson is accused of buying. Maybe food for her young kids? Or did she go the really greedy route and buy up a lot of electronics? Maybe she decided to go on a shopping spree and purchase a new wardrobe?

No, she apparently had more immediate creature comforts in mind. She allegedly used the stolen credit card to buy a Big Joe Football Bean Bag and a Big Joe Video Lounger.


She's going to need some Goodwill from the justice system

A criminal complaint has just been lodged against Suzanne Hribik, a former Goodwill vice president, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Seems she violated Goodwill's policy on credit card use by making unauthorized purchases.

As always, I like to give the benefit of the doubt. When I first heard the news, I thought, "Well, how bad can that be? Maybe she made an honest error…"

If so, it was more than an honest error. It was a lot of them. Prosecutors charge that Hribik spent almost $50,000 on Goodwill's credit line.

On shopping.


And vacations to Myrtle Beach and Miami Beach.

Well, never mind.

She was vice president of finance and technology for seven years when between Oct. 1, 2009 and Feb. 15, 2010, Hribik allegedly went off the deep end and started using her corporate credit card as her own personal credit card until she was discovered, fired from a job at which she was making around $125,000 a year, and two years later, is obviously still dealing with the consequences.

If any kids happen to be reading this, there's a lesson here. To paraphrase the old saying, don't try this at work. When you get a job someday, remember Hribik's story.

The original article can be found at scams, beanbag lounges and...cannibalism?