This is the story of how one poor man (me) was electronically stolen from, and then verified, transferred, and “yes sir”ed by his bank to the point where he was forced to question his own humanity.

Last week, I received my first paycheck for the month of December. A day after that, my health insurance payment (paid for entirely by myself) hit my account, and then half of my paycheck was gone. I had just enough money left to get me through the week without feeling like I couldn’t buy at least one sandwich or Mac-Donald’s value meal – or maybe that two dog and small ice-with-a-little-drink special at Gray’s Papaya – during the week, in addition to making a small contribution towards those monthly expenses necessary to life (rent, groceries and television). Then another day passed. At the end of this day, a visit to my online banking center showed me that this “just enough” amount of money had become a “negative number written in a red font because it’s not a real” amount of money. A Chinese thief had charged the entire amount left in my account (plus a little bit more!) to my check card.

Probably, plus another clause, the thief was not even Chinese. The charge was made to the PayPal account of a Chinese man, but I’m decently sure that the thief is really some pimply-faced, nerdy white kid from the suburbs who when I find him will have brittle bones and will not know karate. As of now, I haven’t found him, because I never will, because the beauty of the internet is also the beauty of internet crime: identity and location are mostly relative. As far as I will ever probably know, the thief is who he appears to be, a Chinese man with a PayPal account.

Needless to say, I called my Bank (of America!) immediately upon noticing the charge. Here’s how my customer service experience went down:

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