The telephone rang at 8.30 on a Sunday evening as I was putting the finishing touches to a speech to be delivered to a thinly-attended House of Commons.
It was the fraud department of the company that is privileged to hold the Young credit card account. (I fear we are not a major contributor to their profits as the balance is paid off each month, and the sums involved are not large. Rather, they were not large, until the details of the card fell into the hands of the ungodly.)
The representative of the company told me he had reason to believe that my card was being fraudulently applied, and listed a succession of big-ticket purchases of commodities unseen in the Young household. I had a quick consultation with my wife to ensure that these extravagances were neither her attempt to kick-start the retail sector, nor a cry for help. They were neither.
One of the purchases that the computer had identified as giving rise to suspicion was a purchase from Gogo Pizzas. I am delighted that the fraud detection unit is sophisticated enough to identify purchases that are out-of-character, and commend them on intervening before my account was debited. But it is not unknown for the Young household to order food to be delivered, and the Test Valley Refuse Collection Service could testify to the occasional large square carton box in the recycling bin.
Had the computer spotted that the normal fillings had not been ordered this time?
While the conversation was going on, I asked myself whether this call was not, itself, a sophisticated scam? Was the person the other end not who he said he was, but another ungodly person trying to get the details of the Young credit card, under the camouflage of trying to help me? In fact he wasn’t, as I discovered by asking for his number and checking it out. Isn’t life complicated.
But I put a suggestion to my new friend.
The next time he believes that someone other than me has ordered a pizza to be delivered, at the same time as they ring me up, they should ring up the local police. A policeman should don the attire of a pizza delivery man, arrive at the relevant destination and ascertain whether the person receiving it had indeed ordered a 12 inch deep-pan Mexican Passion, with Mexican Chicken, Red Peppers, Pineapple, & Jalapeno peppers, with potato twisters and a litre of Coke. And, if they had, handcuff them before a mouthful disappeared. I would be happy to pay for the pizza.