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5 Really Stupid Financial Criminals

Shelby Bremer

Checking your pocket only to realize your wallet’s been stolen is a nightmare. The hassle of freezing accounts, plus the fear that your personal information is floating around, is enough to give anyone a major headache.

But sometimes those thieves that try to pull the wool over your eyes end up only hurting themselves. Here are five of the dumbest financial criminals in recent history.

1. A Major Fumble

New Orleans police in 2008 received a call from a woman reporting that her purse had been taken out of her unlocked car. Her credit card company informed her that her card had been used to purchase tickets to that night’s NFL Saints game. The detectives on the case arrived at the Superdome, and headed for the seat assigned to the purchased ticket. There they found the 15-year-old thief, who had previously been arrested for auto burglary.

2. Have We Met Before?

A Colorado woman lost her wallet one night earlier this year, and soon found out from her bank that someone had been writing hundreds of dollars in bad checks in her name. Two weeks later, while at her job as a server at Applebee’s, she was waiting a table when the four patrons ordered drinks. She asked for identification, and one of the women handed the waitress her own stolen ID. Thinking quickly, the woman called the police from the back and pretended nothing was wrong until the police arrived and arrested the 26-year-old woman on multiple charges.

3. I’m Ready for My Mugshot

Earlier this month, a Maryland woman realized that she had misplaced her card while grocery shopping at a store near a local cinema. She reported the card missing, and the police reviewed the recent transactions to find that movie tickets had been purchased at the nearby theater. The police then reviewed surveillance footage and found that a group of teenagers had not only taken the card and bought movie tickets, but they bought a photo booth session as well — reportedly holding the card in question. Police released the photos from the booth’s hard drive, and received a quick response from the community, identifying them.

4. White-Glove Pick-Up

A post on the popular social website Reddit.com shares the story of a man whose credit card was stolen, and the thief purchased an iPad. But in his haste, the original card owner surmised that the thief must have selected the “ship to billing address” option, so the iPad showed up on the original cardholder’s doorstep. The thief then called the victim, pretending to be a Best Buy employee, and asked him to leave it on the doorstep for pickup. But the cardholder instead returned the iPad and handed the phone number over to the police.

5. You Will Know Me By the Trail of Things That I Bought

In 2008, an Iowa City man reported that his wallet had been stolen out of his unlocked apartment. The police began to investigate, but soon discovered that the thief was leaving an obvious trail. He bought a carton of cigarettes with the stolen credit card, and signed his own name. He used the card to purchase coffee, but used his own rewards account with the store, and when attempting to buy $154.21 worth of merchandise, he presented his own identification. The card came up stolen, but the thief tried to use the card at a different location anyway. Police quickly caught on.

Though these make for some pretty crazy stories, don’t risk identity theft or your financial safety by leaving your credit cards unattended. Police recommend that you always lock your car and home, because not all financial criminals make themselves this easy to catch.

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