Today I wanted to spend some time working on my Lingq.com client gem that I've been working on this weekend. It's a fun litte project, and if you're into learning another language I recommend you go check out lingq.com, it's pretty cool.
But that didn't happen. No, instead today I spent a few hours trying to figure out how I'd been fraudulently charged for $325.50 over the last 6 months. I wish this stuff didn't happen very often, but the guys who got me are pros, and if you're someone who has a credit card (and you are), you should immediately go check your statements for anything that looks like one of these:
I'm sure you see the pattern. There are tons more, but who has time to copy and paste all that mess 300 times?
These guys run a ton of billbord sites like this:
Clue one that this is a problem is how every site of theirs is basically something that says "want to know why this mysterious charge showed up on your credit card statement?". Check out this excerpt from http://www.mvq-todaysescapes.com/
You're probably here because you were searching the billing descriptor MVQ TODAYSESCAPES after finding it on your credit or debit card statement.
The billing descriptor MVQ*TODAYSESCAPES that you saw on your credit or debit card statement is used to indicate a fee for enrolling in Today's EscapesSM, an online membership discount program that offers consumers much-desired discounts on travel plans, dining out, home entertainment and more.
Oh my freaking God. If I had signed up for a membership with you, why would I be searching by the BILLING descriptor for your service? Why in the name of reason would the front page of your website be dedicated to explaining why I shouldn't ask my credit card's fraud department to bring the attorney general down on your slimy ass?
Yep, I called my credit card company, and what did they say? "Yeah, we see this a lot". Wow. Now, I'm glad they were able to help me, they issued me a new card cancelled my old one and credited the charges, but I have to wonder about how this situation reflects on the world of software developers world wide. Obviously someone has shown they can make a quick buck by obtaining credit card numbers and charging them monthly because most people won't investigate charges smaller than $50. And even then, once someone cancels their "account" with these criminals, they usually won't go so far as to file fraud, because it's time consuming. So they have a system that does this automatically, and a phone answering service that lets you cancel your account (it's pretty much the only option on the phone menu, minus some bullshit "explanation of your benefits" speech). And the money rolls in every month.
This probably isn't very coherent, because I'll admit, I'm furious right now, but these people will be allowed to operate only as long as we don't report them because it's too much administrative overhead. Now, I did my part today. I filed a fraudulent charge claim for every transaction they hit me with since they got my credit card number back in september. Today, right now, go to your credit card account search for MVQ. If you're being scammed too, please report it to your credit card company's fraud department so that we can get these lowlifes shut down.