Scams and Accountability

The reading brings up the idea of actual privacy and perceived privacy.  This is a very good point because someone may feel that their information is save when it isn’t.  A good example of this is using a credit card when online shopping.  Even though a company can have on their website that they’re a secure site, they might be using order files that contain credit card numbers.  When I worked at the software company that made and sold order management software, I’d see this all the time.  There are updated versions of the software that don’t allow for credit card numbers to be displayed, but if someone hadn’t updated their software they were carelessly storing customer data.  The customer felt safe because the site provided the appearance of being secure, but in reality credit card numbers are available to everyone that works for that company.  There were many times I even saw credit card data supporting customer support inquiries.

Another example of actual and perceived privacy is going out to eat at a restaurant and paying your bill with your credit card.  This is pretty standard, as it seems most people don’t carry cash.  Your waiter can be walking away with your credit card and scamming your information.  below is a link to an example story of waiters using skimming devices to copy credit card numbers so they could create counterfeit cards to use to purchase expensive items and sell them for cash.

Some of you might be wondering what credit card skimming is.  The image below shows some details about how credit card skimming can be done.  The link below the image takes you to an article (where you’ll also see this image) that provides some more information about credit card skimming.


The reading makes a point that “we take it on faith people are who they say they are.”  This is so true in many aspects, such as online dating.  When you go on a site like you’re just believing the person’s profile is an accurate representation of who they are.  This issue goes deeper than that though.   Celebrities get scammed this way by “catfishing”.  I saw on the news the other day that Brad Paisely and his wife got scammed by someone claiming their daughter was dying and she just wanted to speak to them.  The woman running the scam never asked for money, but when she said her daughter passed away she asked that Brad Paisely provide a song he had sung on the phone for the funeral service.


The link below (that also contains the image above) provides the story in text and video form.

The video also mentioned this wasn’t the first celebrity that was scammed this way.  It’s very sad to think people would play on the emotions of another person in such a way.  This I guess opens the door to ethics, which was also part of the reading this week.  I know the reading focused more on workplace and email ethics, which I think is an important topic being email is replacing conversations.  I think that email is not only quick to fire off and get a response, but it also covers you from taking the blame for something.  For example, If I call someone at work and ask if something is ok and they say yes, I have no evidence that approval happened if something goes wrong.  If it was done via email, the accountability is on that person.


I think in the “cut-throat” world we live in makes the workplace tough because everyone is on the go and wants to look good.  Ethics sometimes take a backseat.

Posted on November 17, 2013, in Society, Trust, Workplace. Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. “I think in the “cut-throat” world we live in makes the workplace tough because everyone is on the go and wants to look good. Ethics sometimes take a backseat.” I couldn’t agree more. The environment where I experienced this the most was in real estate. It is a very competitive business and even more so when the market was beyond horrible over the last few years. I caught one blatant case of lender fraud (and that same guy tried the same tactic on me again 2 years later!!) and there were lots of rumors about one or two really bad agents (that is all it takes to ruin the reputation of an entire industry of hard working agents). What was probably even more frustrating was getting burned on the “Golden Rule” aspects of our business. That was even more hurtful than thinking someone had violated our ethics to get a deal done! My very wise boss once told me there were 3 kinds of people in the world that you will have to work with:
    There are the ones you can trust – you know how to work with them because you know you can trust them; there are the ones you can’t trust – you can work with these people, too, because you KNOW you can’t trust them; but then there are the ones you thought you could trust and it turns out you can’t – you really cannot work with this group of people because they violated the rules of engagement.

    I think this is a good analogy for those who get taken advantage of from a site/company/restaurant they thought they could trust. Con artists go way back but the technology today seems to make their job a lot easier.

    • I’m sure the real estate business has been extremely tough lately. The tough economy doesn’t yield a “polite” working experience. I think what your boss said is extremely true. I hate working with that pesky third category of people that you think are on your side and want to help, but really aren’t. Once people “violate the rules of engagement” you never know when they’ll do it again, so it’s a very tough work atmosphere with that group.

  2. Hi Christine:

    What a bizarre story: Munchausen by Internet. It makes you just never want to trust anyone again, which is sad because, obviously, there are many “real” stories of illness or other troubled circumstances of people who will not get help because celebrities or others in a position to help will become cautious.

    The “skimming” stories were interesting, too, though scary. I guess the only thing I have going for me is that I don’t have high limits or no limits on my cards, though I suppose I shouldn’t be too complacent about that.

    I have a couple of older neighbors (mid 60’s-70’s) who were almost victims of a scam a few months ago. Someone got on the phone pretending to be their granddaughter in Fla., saying she was in jail and needed $10,000 to get out and to pay her lawyer. They thought something was fishy, including the fact that they weren’t sure it was her voice, but they were thinking about paying the money. Fortunately, the manager of their bank talked them through some questions they should ask and people they might call to verify, and the scam quickly fell apart. But, according to this manager, these kinds of schemes are pretty common these days.

    • Thank goodness for that bank manager! It’s sad how many times we hear about these type of scams, preying on those that are more trusting and from a different generation. Phishing, identity theft, credit card scams, hackers, computer viruses, spam…this is the world we live in today.

    • Yeah, these stories really are sad because there is a reality of sick kids or people that just want to have something exciting happen to them because things are so tough for them. It’s so sad these people can’t get the attention they deserve because there are people out there scamming those stories. It’s really hard to think people could actually be capable of this kind of behavior.

      I have had friends get their debit card attacked by fraud. In their experience, the bank put a stop on everything for the account, meaning they couldn’t withdraw money from the ATM or pay their bills online. My debit card has become an ornament since I heard that. At least if someone is going to scam me, they’ll do it on a credit card account and I can at least still access my bank account.

      I’m glad the bank manager was able to help your neighbors, but these stories seem so common. I know scams happened years ago…but I wonder if they’re happing more now with technology or we just find out about them more because information is more widespread and available than it was a few years ago.

  3. Wow, I guess there really are people ready to take advantage of any situation. Your example of waiters stealing people’s credit card info and someone pretending that their daughter had a horrible illness to try and take advantage of a celebrity’s good will makes me especially sad. It reminds me of a scam that took place after the Boston Marathon bombings.

    You make a good point about using email as a paper trail to prevent you from having to take the blame for something someone else committed to do. I always try to get commitments and requests in writing for that exact reason. I think this is another example of how email is becoming more personified- in this case, we actually value an email with someone more than a phone call.

    • Great connection to email here and yet another way someone can turn to the “dark side.” That is, I’ve heard of people in academia who only use the phone to convey information because they DON’T want it saved somewhere in writing!

    • To hear about the scams after something like the Boston Marathon bombings is also just terrible. People play on the fact that they’re vulnerable after dealing with that type of situation, and it’s just sick to see that this happens.

      I agree working with some people I value email over phone calls. I’d much rather speak to someone in person or on the phone, as I really feel that communication gets lost in email and things are more clear over the phone…but working with certain people I need their responses in writing!

  4. Wow is all I can say after watching the video about the hoax with Brad and Kimberly Paisley. The therapist that they interviewed towards the end makes an interesting assessment on how the Internet has not only enabled this type of behavior, but has caused it to explode. It makes me think about all those people Sherry Turkle interviewed that were addicted to Second Life…like the therapist said in the video you shared, these people are seduced by the anonymity being online allows, while, at the same time, being seduced by the intimacy.

    Great post!

  5. Good point. That reminds me of plagiarism software or sites like While the internet makes it easy for desperate students to copy/paste material or even buy term papers, teachers can use Google just as quickly to catch them!

  6. People do put a lot of trust in others on the internet. We assume that people are telling the truth because that is something we want to believe. I think all of us wants to believe the best of people which is why the scams keep working on some.

    Your point about using email as a paper trail is well founded. I once worked with a business analyst who would only communicate by email. She was focussed on accountability, but in truth, it just made working with her more difficult. We often had email exchanges to answer questions that could’ve easily been resolved by a simple phone call.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.