Customer Blames Store For Selling Him Gift Cards Related To A Scam After He Lied To Cashier
MONTANA – "This irresponsibility and lack of accountability should not stand!" exclaims recent scam victim Harold Movemoney. "Something must be done about this!"
Harold had been involved in a recent tech support refund scam in which the scammer posed as an anti-virus software company. They gained access to Harold's online banking and fooled him into thinking they provided him an overpayment by moving his own money from account to account.
The scammer then convinced him that the only way to satisfy the overpayment was to buy gift cards at a nearby drug store. In denominations of $500, he bought 4 cards. When asked what they were for, he responded that they were being bought as gifts to his four grandchildren. This, the scammer had said, would avoid any suspicion of a scam. Ironically, it was part of the scam.
A few days after this, Harold was contacted by the scammer and the circus started again. This time around he figured it out, reviewing his bank accounts and finding that a missing $2,000 was from a transfer the same day he talked to the guy on the phone.
"Why didn't the store stop me from buying those cards? I mean, who buys $500 gift cards for their grandkids in April? They should have figured out that I was lying!" Harold has launched a series of complaints against the organizations he interacted with to facilitate the scam. The drug store is at the top of that list for not discovering his lie and keeping him from purchasing the cards.
The Need For Lie Detectors
Harold's proposed solution to all of this is that the drug store chain should implement a lie detector test for individuals purchasing high denomination gift cards. This detection device would emit a loud ping if the customer was lying. The cashier could then discover the scam and stop the transaction. Needless to say, Harold's idea isn't exactly welcomed by the drug store chain's management.
"Our store employees are supposed to ask questions when selling these cards," comments Risk Manager Moira Schmidt. "We have seen a lot of people negatively impacted by these schemes. Adding a lie detector to question our customers isn't the way to go here. Perhaps consumers need to be more cognizant of the risks, especially when put in a position to lie. That should be a red flag to someone. If our cashiers would have known the real reason why Mr. Movemoney was buying the gift cards, they would have been able to stop the scam."
In Reality, Something Must Be Done About This
Blame can be spread like peanut butter in many of these scenarios. More importantly, so can the responsibility and accountability in stopping it. This is where the focus should lie. Everyone should play a role, with the consumer at the center. After all, they are communicating with the scammer. Training and education can help, but in many cases, it has to be during participation in the scheme. Something has to snap the potential victim out of the scammy fog that incircles them. This creates challenges for the entities the victim interacts with. It is also one of the things that many anti-fraud professionals are tasked with.
The glorification of fraud and radicalization of people to commit it is another dilemma. Those desensitized to the crime can ignore the impact to the victim and continue scamming and stealing, calling it easy money (or what they will). Stacks of cash might look impressive on social media, but it isn't when you consider the means of obtaining it. The criminal may have been creative or crafty, but they have produced nothing of lasting value and nothing they can be proud of or call their own. Convincing them and future scammers of this may be the biggest challenge to those fighting against fraud today because you must change a culture whose moral compass isn’t pointing North.
As for Harold Movemoney, he is unfortunately out thousands of dollars. And while he may blame others for falling victim to the scheme, he as a consumer holds some of the responsibility in not recognizing the risks and red flags of what he was being asked to do. This is not the same thing as victim blaming which shifts the blame from the suspect to the victim. It is a reality of the world we now live in, that you have to be careful and know the risks of interacting with people, especially when that interaction is predicated on something of value.