One of my clients is actually two people: a husband and wife team who each have a physical disabiIity. As a result, they have come to depend on home health aides to help them with their medical One of my clients is actually two people: a husband and wife team who each have a physical disabiIity. As a result, they have come to depend on home health aides to help them with their medical needs as well as everyday tasks like grocery shopping.
When we first started helping them we didn’t have online access to their credit cards, so we had to wait for the statement to be delivered every month. During the normal course of business we realized that we needed to call one of their credit card companies in order to get the most current balance. We were in for a big surprise.
In a complete reversal of the spending habits I knew my clients to have, the last six charges to one of their credit cards totalled $43,000 in purchases from Saks and Barney’s. I confirmed the charges were fraudulent with my clients.
Unfortunately, I also discovered unauthorized activity in their checking account too: There had been three phone transfers from one of their checking accounts to pay off the credit card bill!
Now I’ve seen credit card fraud, and I’ve seen people hack into checking accounts, but I’ve never seen someone hack into a checking account to pay the credit card bill that they fraudulently racked up. As it turns out, their goal in paying off the bill with the stolen money was to obtain a credit line increase.
For a few days my clients were out over $185,000! The investigation into the matter is ongoing, but I personally have some suspicions about the rotating staff of aides who were in the house on a daily basis. This case was extremely unusual because of the access the criminal obtained to both the credit card and the checking account used to pay for it. It’s not usually the case that a random identity thief would have access to both.
After all was said and done, my clients were able to recoup the stolen funds, but it took time and aggravation. Join me next time to learn about the mistakes my clients made and what we did to fix them.
Judith Heft, Principal, Judith Heft & Associates is a personal financial concierge with offices in Greenwich and Stamford. She can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 203-978-1858.