My grandmother was defrauded of nearly $700 by a phone scam. The real scumbags are the "merchants" who scammed grandma and the individuals who work with them. The underlying problem, however, is Washington Mutual's practice of accepting -- unverified -- phone-authorized checks printed up by the merchants themselves in victims', like my grandmother's, name. My grandmother never signed (or even saw) the check they cashed!
I am pressing Washington Mutual (WaMu) to reimburse my grandmother because of their irresponsibility in processing the scammers' check and their laziness in investigating her fraud claim. By doing this, I hope to persuade WaMu and other banks to crack down on criminal scammers, unscrupulous merchants, and insecure business practices. Stop such practices and you'll strangle this breed of scammer. Sure I'd like to get grandma's $700 back, but that doesn't seem likely and it would be reward enough for her if it helped put this scum out of business.
My grandma is 80 years-old, well-read, still attends extension classes at her local university, and is nobody's fool. She is not poor but lives in subsidized housing on a fixed income. Her one failing: she was too polite to hang up on a phone solicitor and too trusting to recognize a scam in the making. I am her grandson, a web designer and writer based in Southern California. (And a Washington Mutual account holder myself.)