Illegal Customer

Posted on February 18, 2009 by LCT Magazine

By Jim A. Luff

At about 10:30 a.m. our reservations department received a call from a guy who identified himself as the owner of a construction business who needed a limousine “right away.”  Our dispatcher told him it would be at least one hour before we could respond.  He demanded that we respond RIGHT NOW!  He demanded to speak to “someone in charge,” which was me at that moment.

He informed me that he needed a ride to the local Ford dealership to pickup his brand new Mustang that he custom ordered.  I explained the difference between cab service and pre-arranged livery service and asked him to be patient.  It was then that he made an incredible offer.  If I could be there in 15 minutes, he would allow me to charge his card $600 for the fifteen minute ride.  I confirmed verbally, “You are going to give me $600 for a 15 minute trip, and I can charge it to your credit card right now.  Is that correct”?  “Yes,” he replied.

I asked the dispatcher to call the garage, have the mechanic pre-trip a car for me, and warm the engine.  At the same time, giant red flags were running up poles around me.  Why?  Why is this man doing this?  I took his information and more red flags popped up.  He didn’t know his own phone number.  He didn’t know where the credit card bill was mailed to.  Either way, I was delighted to be getting $600 for a piece of cake run even if I was baffled.

I jumped in a limo and headed to the pickup location.  As a bonus, it was located one block away, and directly behind our shop.  I clearly arrived within 15 minutes to earn my bonus.

Upon arrival, a man in his early 20s came running out of the house.  He had several briefcases, a laptop and other personal items.  I told him we needed to take care of some paperwork before boarding.  I needed to see the credit card he used over the phone.  He panicked briefly and then began rummaging through his bags.  He inadvertently dropped about 20 credit cards.  I bent over to help him pick them up, and realized they were in numerous different names.  I clearly had stumbled on to something.  I excused myself and told the guy I forgot to radio in to my dispatcher that I had arrived.  I returned to the car and quickly radioed that I needed police dispatched to my location immediately for either a credit card fraud or burglary, and if I started moving to radio my GPS position to authorities.

The guy could not find the particular card he gave me, and things started going from bad to worse when he asked if I could take a personal check as he was really in a hurry to leave.  I told him I could only take a business check with proper identification.  He then went in the house to “get his checkbook.”  I called 911 myself at this point to explain what was going on, and request that they expedite as I was stalling for time.

Soon, the postal carrier arrived with the daily mail and the guy came out of the house, and opened some of the mail being delivered.  He told me this “proves he lives here” since it was addressed to this location.  He could not find his business checkbook.  I then told him that I could drive him and we would work out the financial details if I could just have his license, and that I had a camera with me and would take a photo of his license and of him, and we should be good with one of those credit cards.  He could not find his license.  Shocker huh?

I still had the police on the phone that sadly told me they had no one to send at this time.  There was nothing more I could do.  I told him that I could not drive him without cash or ID to go with the credit cards he had.  His excuses were bizarre, and included that the lady who owned the house had died and left him everything but he was in the process of changing everything over to his name.

Fortunately he was stupid enough to remain in the house for an entire hour after I left.  The police contacted the woman at work after I provided them with her name from credit cards and mail documents, and the police arrived along with the home owner, busting him red handed.  I was called back to the scene where I got a gigantic hug from the “dead lady,” and was amazed to find out he had burglarized NINE houses on the same street in a single morning, and had stuff piled everywhere along the sides of houses.

I guess this means I don’t get the $600 right?

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