If you follow me on social media, you know that yesterday I wrote,
Dear person in Florida who drained my bank accounts today,
If you were hungry or thirsty or cold, I hope you got what you needed. But you didn’t have to steal it. I would’ve given it to you freely if you’d simply asked.
Here’s what happened.
Last week I got a call from Chase Bank asking if I was trying to spend $100 at a Walmart in Florida. I said no, I’m making tea in my kitchen in San Francisco.
So they said they’d cancel the card and mail me a new one.
Great, I said.
Yesterday, I realized it had been a week since I’d gotten that phone call, and I hadn’t received a new card yet, so I called Chase. The woman told me that she was unable to give me any information on my account over the phone. I had to go to a bank branch with two forms of ID in order to get information.
So I took my passport and driver’s license to a Chase branch yesterday afternoon and sat across from a tall, stocky, 30-something-year-old banker named Benjamin as he logged into my account to see what was going on.
It turns out that after Chase shut down my account due to the fraudulent Walmart attempt, someone went back into the system and re-activated the card. Over the ensuing five days, the thieves spent thousands of dollars at grocery stores and withdrew more from ATMs across Miami. Somehow they were also able to get the money from my savings account transferred to my checking account, so they wiped out both my checking and my savings account.
Plus, I had been fined close to $1000 in overdraft fees because bills that are on auto-pay (like the mortgage for the townhouse I own in Portland and the kids I sponsor with Compassion International) were putting me in the red due to insufficient funds.
I didn’t know any of this because I’d been locked out of my account, so I had been unable to track any account activity over the past week.
As I sat across from Benjamin listening to his side of the phone call with the fraud department, my heart kept sinking with each piece of bad news, until I realized: all my money was gone.
Now I have to sign affidavits swearing that I was not in Florida draining my life savings over the past five days, and I have to go to the police station to file a report because the thieves took enough money to make this a federal crime.
After that, Chase can refund the money that was stolen, as well as the overdraft fees.
So that’s what happened yesterday.
The other thing that happened yesterday was that I realized a few important things.
I realized how much security I’ve found in saving money and being financially secure. While it’s wise to save, avoid consumer debt and live frugally, there’s a line between finding security in money versus finding ultimate security in the God who clothes the lilies and catches the sparrows and is intimately aware of what we need before we even ask.
I realized that I’ve grown in my faith and in my willingness to forgive over the past few years. Because as I got the awful news that all the money had been stolen, it took only a matter of minutes for me to surrender the crime and the people who committed it to the capable hands of a loving, merciful and just God. I didn’t cry, I didn’t lose sleep, I didn’t plot revenge, I didn’t despair. I forgave them before they could ask, and I trusted that God will provide for all my needs, both great and small.
And most importantly, I realized that I have truly amazing friends and an awesome family. I got phone calls, emails and texts, asking me what I needed, asking what they could do to support me. And I realized that yesterday I lost all my money, but I am wealthy beyond measure in the beautiful people God’s gifted me in my life.
So thanks for all the offers, but I don’t need any money. I have credit cards to use for expenses until my account is restored.
I could use your prayers that the process would move swiftly, that the perpetrators would be identified and caught so they can’t do this to anyone else, that the Chase employee who went into the account and turned it back on after there was known fraud would be appropriately re-trained, and that whatever went so wrong in the thieves’ hearts to make them do this would be redeemed and rescued and restored.