Imagine calling the police to report a crime, only to have them turnaround and accuse you.
That's what happened to Audrey Grisham of Bountiful, Utah. Her financial nightmare began when she discovered $1,524.74 worth of charges she didn’t make on her credit card, KUTV reports (h/t The Consumerist). When Grisham reported the charges to her credit card provider, Discover, company officials told her that before she was eligible for reimbursement, she had to report the fraud to police departments in each of the Utah towns where fraudulent charges were made.
Sounds easy enough. That is until police in the town of Centerville didn’t believe her and accused her of fraud herself. By federal law, banks must return, refund or remove all but $50 of any unauthorized or fraudulent activity on a lost or stolen card.
Globally, credit card fraud like that which Grisham says she experienced is falling, thanks in part to increased security measures. Yet the U.S. remains conspicuously behind. In 2010, 47 percent of global fraud losses last year occurred in the U.S., up from about 46.5 percent the year before. One year before that, customers lost $443 million to various forms of financial consumer crimes.
It wasn’t long before Grisham’s name was cleared, thanks to another police department filing charges against a suspect. Discover still refused to pay up until local network KUTV contacted the company, noting its failure to pay was unlawful.
Grisham's case is small compared to that of Adekunle Adetiloye, who was recently sentenced to 18 years in prison for organizing a scheme to open 600 fraudulent bank accounts in 22 banks across the U.S., bilking card firms out of up to $5 million. Unlike Grisham’s card thief, though, Adetiloye’s fraud was based on identity theft.
Likewise, police in Quebec, Canada recently busted a crime ring that is estimated to have committed fraud worth up to $100 million, MSNBC reports.
But as in Grisham’s case, things can sometimes turn out alright for victims of fraud. John McDevitt, a U.S. army veteran who was cheated out of some $25,000 while on vacation, was ultimately reimbursed by Bank of America after the bank initially denied his request. Yet again, it wasn’t until increased media scrutiny that BofA decided to finally pay up.