Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sleeping with the fishers

I have become a victim of crime -- a very sneaky, creepy kind of crime. It happened on a Saturday afternoon, sultry and clear, a typical late summer Cape afternoon. I bestirred myself from a fitful doze in the Laz-e-Boy in my study to go out and wash the car. In a couple of minutes the pool guy arrived, bent on installing a new pump (painfully expensive).

When I returned to the study I found the side table next the recliner had moved to the window, and a broken stick lay nearby. My wallet, which I had thoughtfully slapped down on the table earlier, was gone. I found the rest of the stick outside. Yes, the mysterious wallet fisher had struck again.

I finally worked out that, humiliatingly, this could only have happened while I was comatose in the chair. Didn't think to survey the room before going outside ...

Then the cards had to be cancelled, yada yada yada, following which I made a very interesting discovery. Credit cards can be used after they have been cancelled. Probably not possible with a chip card. The bank's "customer care" dude explained that banks have what is called a "floor limit". This is the minimum amount below which the transaction will not need electronic approval from the bank. The sneaks know how to play their cards right.

"What's your floor limit then?" I asked. I mean, you never know when that might come in handy, right?

" Oh, I'm not sure," he vagued. Yeah, right. "It varies from one bank to another."

What's worse, merchants generally do nothing, even if it's obviously a scam, the guy explained. "They fear there are consequences." The reason is that the scammer usually has a heavy dude hanging around outside.

I do believe that not many people know that.

Oh, and the wallet angler is still at large, according to the local cops. What really creeps me out is the thought that he or she must have been watching over the wall from the lane outside.

At least the guys with knives who mugged me on a dark rainy morning in the city had the decency to chuck the wallet away after cleaning out the cash. A very attractive blonde from the financial management company near my office found it, traced me and gave it back. And the city council stuck a CCTV camera at the spot afterwards.