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e-mail alert!

“There has been suspicious activity on your debit card. Please contact the bank immediately!”

I checked the account online. Given my fear of fluorescent lighting, I often shop by Internet. However, I know that the cute parrot toy I might buy online from The Cute Parrot Toy Shoppe might get posted under the parent company’s billing name of Megastore for Cattle Prods, Pesticides & Associated Products—cute parrot toys being an associated product. So nothing seemed amiss.

I called the number in the e-mail and was connected sooo quickly I honestly thought, Aha! The scam was the phone call itself! The scoundrels assumed that I would naively tell the “bank” all my financial info. I prepared to listen with keen and wary attention.

“Let’s review your charges,” said the customer rep. “Tell me if anything seems suspicious. $138.17 for Stop & Shop.”

“That’s mine. I always stop at Stop & Shop…to…um…shop.”

“$42.78 for CVS.”

“That’s mine.”

“27.11 for Dunkin’ Donuts.”

“That’s mine.”

“57.39 for CVS….$18.41 for Dunkin’ Donuts….$33.38 for Dunkin’ Donuts ….$29.13 for—”

“Enough!” I yelled. “I eat lots of donuts in between tranquilizers! Skip to the suspicious charge.’

The rep paused…It was a pause filled with smugness.

“$152.78 for Sears…for a vacuum cleaner. Do you vacuum, Mrs. O’Keefe? C’mon…Tell the truth and shame the devil.”

Shame the devil? Had Sister Mary Immaculate become a customer rep?

“I vacuum all the time,” I protested guiltily.

Do you? We not only know that you regularly stop and shop at Stop & Shop. We also know what you shop for when you stop. You have never bought a single cleaning item in your entire life.”

“You can’t possibly know that.”

“On your last visit, you bought three pints of Death by Chocolate ice cream, a single Weight Watcher’s lunch, and some smelly goo for your toenail fungus. Think about it, Mrs. O’Keefe. How can we possibly know what’s out of the ordinary unless we know what’s ordinary?”

The voice was becoming eerily more nunnish with every word.

“We also know that you pre-ordered 2,237 copies of your own book Frankenstein’s Monster just to boost your Amazon ratings.”

Defeated, I admitted that the charge for the Sears vacuum cleaner was not mine—but I insisted that I’d been given a vacuum for my birthday two years ago—and that I used my birthday vacuum all the time.

“Of course, you do,” the voice said soothingly. “Donut crumbs make a mess.”

It was Sister Mary Immaculate! Shoot, now I had to go to confession. In the hierarchy of sins, lying to a nun is a biggie.

“This debit card has now been canceled, Mrs. O’Keefe. You’ll get your new one in five to ten business days.”

I won’t need it. It’s cash only from now on.