What you are about to read is a true story. It happened right here on the West Side. Thus, another Westside Story. The names have not been changed to protect the innocent, because no one is innocent.
My pal Larry King and I had lunch last week at Applebees in University Place. We requested separate checks because when you retire on a fixed income, you can’t afford to fritter away your money on someone else’s lunch.
When the waitress returned with our credit cards and receipts, we stuffed the items back into our wallets.
After returning home, I motored back out with my wife to Michael’s on an emergency frame shop broken-glass problem-solving errand.
Stacy, the frame shop manager, proved to be exceedingly helpful. She charged me $6.50 for some super artwork hangers and a new piece of glass.
I whipped out my credit card, jammed the card into the machine, chip end first, and then signed the credit card machine window. I was careful to return the card and receipt to my wallet.
As Stacy finished up our framing project, Larry called. “Joe, the Applebee’s waitress mixed up our credit cards.”
I opened my wallet, and sure enough, I had Larry’s credit card in my billfold.
I could not believe it. I had just charged $6.50 on my pal’s credit card which amounts to accidental credit card fraud. I felt, as they say, sheepish.
Had Stacy asked for my identification we would have avoided the problem. I can’t blame Stacy though because my customer – clerk relations were in high gear, so she did not have much time to think. I had a previous receipt; I was on the computer. I have an honest face. So she trusted me.
After Larry and I had a good laugh, I fessed up to Stacy that I had just committed inadvertent credit card fraud. She reversed the charge on Larry’s credit card. I asked my wife to pay our frame shop bill.
That was that. Larry and I made plans to exchange credit cards the next day.
The next morning Larry sent me an email. “Joe, did you use my card at Walmart on Bridgeport before you went to Michael’s? If not, I think my card has been hacked. There is a charge to Walmart on my card for $97.81 yesterday between Appleby’s and Michael’s. Let me know if that wasn’t your charge so I can go to work on it.
As I read the first part of Larry’s email, I quickly and adamantly thought, “No, I did not use his credit card at Walmart because I do not shop at Walmart. As I read further, …$97.81, I thought, “Wait a minute. $97.81. Oops, that was me. After leaving Applebees, I spotted Walmart on my way back to Lakewood. On an impulse I popped into Walmart to buy a hard sided suitcase to use for flying my motorcycle helmet and riding suit to Alaska for my big motorcycle adventure.
$97.81 later I walked out of Walmart with a 28” hard sided suitcase.
Had I known I was paying with Larry’s card, I would have purchased a $400 suitcase.
While I was clear about the Michaels credit card charge, my mind did not roll backward with the question, “Did I use the card anywhere else?” Apparently, I am so use to using my credit card once the transaction is complete, I never look back.
Even filing my receipts at home failed to trigger the thought that the Walmart charge was on Larry’s card.
Larry promised if I resisted the urge to charge up a storm on his credit card and instead motored directly over to his house to return his card and a refund check for my purchases, he would not call Lakewood Police.
Because LPD knows where I live and because I am too old to go to jail for credit card fraud, I need to cut this short and get over to Larry’s.
If LPD does book me into the Pierce County Jail for accidental credit card fraud, I plan to post my bail using Larry’s credit card.
Larry and I share a strong sense of humor so we will see the funny in pulling one last credit card fraud; this time on the criminal justice system itself. The last laugh will come when the judge, who probably lacks a sense of humor when it comes to jail bail fraud, sends me to prison.