Sometime back while watching television I saw few episodes of shows like “Savdhaan India” ,”Crime patrol” etc which deal with real life shocking crime stories. In many of these cases the criminal was someone very close to the victim maybe a relative or a very trusted friend. Also crime before it occurs leaves lot of signs on the way but the victim fails to notice and save himself. I always used to wander how do the victims trust someone so much miss few suspicious activities of the criminal? Why don’t they see anything wrong? until I become a victim myself.
About a year back I travelled to USA for work and stayed their for few months.I found an ad for roommate on internet and went to see the place with my colleague. I liked the place and moved in quickly, it was a two bedroom house and I had rented one of the bedrooms.
My roommate was nice and very friendly who used to guide me about how take care of myself while in USA. She told me things like anytime you feel that you are unsafe or you face any other issue call 911 and you will get help.On my first travel she came till bus stop and saw that I boarded the right bus and also requested the driver to let me know when my stop comes. Being a vegetarian and not very good cook myself she sometimes cooked food for both of us. Whenever I used to feel low due to some issues in office she used to console and provide me the moral support. She also warned me about scams wherein people call you and pretending to be police ask about your SSN and say that there is arrest warrant or some fraud in your name and if you do not pay money to them you will be arrested. She told me never to share any information over such calls and not worry about the same also.
In few months she became a good friend and trusted support to me. In short she used to say that I am like her elder sister to her. Lease for that house was till April end and she was planning to travel back to India in first or second week of May so I would have to find a new accommodation by then.
Somewhere after mid February she told me that since the lease is about to end property manager might come any time to check so be careful and since our names are not on lease we may land in trouble, so next month onwards do not go near the mailbox. I will go get the letters when no one else is around and give you your letters. Possiblity of someone catching us while checking mailbox seemed very remote to me, anyways I did not suspect anything major or serious in this so just left this as it is. She used to get everybody’s letters and hand it over.
Things continued happily between us untill last week of lease came and I was not able to find any accommodation for myself. I had posted ad for roommate on Craiglist and sulekha.com for room. My roommate and friend left the house one week earlier for a vacation with friends. Last two days were left in house and still I had no where to go…
And suddenly one morning I got a call from a credit card company saying that you have an outstanding due of around huge amount. I told them I do not have the credit card of that company so no question of dues. Person on the phone asked for last four digits of my SSN. This added to my suspicion that this is some crook who has got my number from ad I posted on internet so I told her I cannot share any details with you, she gave me her customer care no and asked to call for any further details that I needed and disconnected the call.
I was about to ignore this and go on with my usual routine but suddenly somehow I felt let me check the mailbox once that I am about to leave this place in two days better collects letters if any before leaving. I was in for big shock when I saw the mailbox their was a credit card bill lying in my name in the box for a credit card which I never had ……
Now I realised that the call was not a scam I was cheated, I am a victim of financial fraud…..I called the credit card company back and informed about the fraud they verified my details and the address and SSN matched, however emailid was slightly different from my emailid which is why I never got any emails. I came to know that fraud card was applied in month of February and was shipped to my address only so there was no way it was received by outsider. Card was blocked and financial enquiry was initiated.
I was heartbroken, some incidents of past few months flashed before my eyes I was going to apply for credit card from this company but my roommate advised me not to as they charge high APR and have many hidden charges, not to check the mailbox so that I don’t get any bills or any other communication regarding this card. She had no closet so asked for sharing my closet which was good excuse for her to come to my room even when I was not present and access my documents. I was backstabbed by someone whom I trusted more than myself, it was hard to believe.
Angry and hurt I called her and told her about the fraud her reaction was even more shocking she said such wrong charges are credit card companies mistake nothing serious she tried to make me feel that I am wrong in suspecting and pretended to be hurt by my behaviour. I said I am calling the police let them find out the truth and disconnected. After that she and her friends started calling me repeatedly trying persuade me from calling the police using the excuse that I am staying in house lease for which is not in my name so we all will land in trouble. Credit card fraud has nothing to do with lease this was case of identity theft but she was using an excuse to stop me from going to police this added to my suspicion.
I logged a police complaint however did not let her know thinking she may try to destroy the evidence. Year has passed I did not hear anything from credit card company or police. Criminal is roaming free, enjoying her life and I am still under mental trauma and have lost trust on people…..☹️☹️
I would like to urge everyone reading this article to be very careful when dealing with people and trusting someone and know when crime knocks at your door and save yourself.