Recently, four folks went into Cleveland together for a Cavalier’s game. As they pulled into the arena’s parking garage, they noticed that several of the parking spaces had been marked off with traffic cones. One of the parking attendants removed one of the cones and waved them into a very close parking spot on the same level as the pedestrian bridge to the game. They assumed that it was some sort of VIP treatment that came with their tickets. They locked coats and purses in the trunk, then went in to enjoy the game.

Over the next three days, all four reported that their corporate credit cards had been used for fraudulent transactions. Police believe that the car was "marked" by a confederate working as a parking attendant based on the make of their car and their professional appearance. He waved them into the "VIP spot" so his confederate would know which cars to target. The criminals either picked the lock of the car with a slim-jim and popped the trunk from the inside or recorded the electromagnetic code of the trunk’s remote so they could open the trunk themselves.

When the four people each checked their wallets, only these corporate credit cards had been stolen. Personal cards, personal checks and cash were untouched. It’s human nature to pay more attention to our personal accounts than to a faceless corporation’s account. Intelligent criminal exploit that trait and selectively target who and what to steal so they can go undetected as long as possible.

The bank did an excellent job of handling the fraudulent transactions but we all pay when the criminals get away. It is extremely unlikely even with this evidence that criminals will be caught or prosecuted. Sometimes the best we can do is to avoid being targets in the first place.

  • If someone’s offering you a service that seems too good to be true, it probably is. Be extra cautious (and a little bit suspicious) when someone is giving you unexpected special treatment.
  • Keep your valuables with you whenever possible.
  • Watch your credit card accounts (personal and corporate) carefully.
  • Always lock your vehicle.

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