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I work in an office area that's fairly open. We have half walls and the cube layouts are broken out into areas where three of us sit in a shared area.  Each of us has a corner with one corner open to enter and exit.   I like the two people I share space with a lot, but it's often easy to overhear conversations given the layout.

I couldn't help but hear bits and pieces of a conversation from JV, who was looking into a charge that he didn't recognize.  It was for a pizza place in Ann Arbor, about an hour and a half away from our area. The charge was for $53.00.

Phone Calls

First, he contacted his wife, then I heard him talking to the bank.  I wasn't eavesdropping, but it was unavoidable to hear that he had gotten it worked out to get the charge removed, and to get a new card issued and the old card disabled.

The fun really started the next day.

I heard him on the phone again, and I couldn't let the words waft past after I heard the word ‘Police Report'.

After that, I heard him going over in great detail personal information about the person who had stolen his identity.  He was offering up name, address, description, and phone number.

After he was done, I couldn't help but spin around in my chair and ask for the story.  He went over that the charge had appeared, that he had been nowhere near, and that he'd gotten the info and contacted both his bank and the police.

I couldn't help but wonder how he got the persons information.

He explained that it was through solid research and dealing with helpful people as well as a moronic thief.

How He Tracked Down The Thief

  • He contacted the pizza place, asked to speak to a manager, and explained the
    The crook in the story might be getting heartburn from his pizza

    The crook in the story might be getting heartburn from his pizza


  • The manager was very helpful and offered to verify the charge against the receipts.
  • Sure enough, there was a receipt that matched the exact amount.
  • The manager noted that the order had been placed…and it was called in as a delivery order.  The address that the pizza went to was right there on file.
  • The manager gave JV the address, which he maybe shouldn't have done, but he did anyway.
  • JV asked the manager if he could talk to the person that made the delivery.  He did this to get a description of the guy.  The manager agreed and said he would call back.
  • In the meantime, JV went online and looked up the address.  After Google searching and looking through public records, he found the name associated with the address.
  • He ran a Google search on the name and found that the guy had a YouTube account where he was on film.
  • The manager called back and said that he'd talked to the driver, and provided the description. JV noted that it exactly matched the info on YouTube.
  • He ran the name and address through a few more searches and came up with a couple of potential phone numbers.

Putting It All Together

At that point, he had everything he needed.  He had the name of the person, the address, the description, and the phone number.

The police took it all down.  He then sent them over some of the search info.  The police assured him that they'd be paying the address a visit.

JV went out of town.  I haven't been able to follow up on whether he heard anything back or looked up any arrest records (also public info).  Either way, I was very impressed with his tenacity

It's Not About The Money

JV is a cool guy.  He's in his mid-to-late 20's and recently got married and has a young baby girl.  From the time I've known him, I can tell that he's driven by strong morals.  While we were talking, without even being prompted, he said that he knows that he put an awful lot of time into this, but he did so because it wasn't about how much the person ‘stole', but it was about the fact that they tried to steal at all.

He pointed out, and he was probably very correct, that a lot of people might have not even noticed the charge, or if they did, they simply would have called the bank and left it at that, figuring going through the rest of the process wasn't worth the trouble.

But in his mind, not only was it the right option, for him it was the only option.  He knew that if he ‘let the guy off the hook' by not following through to the next step, the guy would go right on with it.  Whether he would  have tried using JVs account again or used other accounts is hard to say.  It's pretty clear he would have continued, and JV could not stand by and let that happen.

I admire JV for not only taking care of his own personal situation in this circumstance, but also for addressing the situation from a broader perspective.  He made sure to prevent the thief from trying their ruse on someone else.

That's pretty awesome.

Readers, have you ever had to deal with this type of situation?  To what lengths did you go through to not only get yourself straightened out, but also to try to catch the bad guy?