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The restaurant was sympathetic it may have helped that some of us were regulars and we filed a police report, but the scammer got away clean that time. It seems to me that our society is full of minor "security holes" like this one, but they're mostly of the sort that are easy to close if they become significant. This has happened to me once in decades of dining out in good restaurants and bad; the restaurant it happened in wasn't used to this kind of scam either. Clearly the loss from this particular scam is tiny. If it happens more often, restaurants and diners will become more aware of it — notice how eagerly people will spread news of new kinds of scams — and a slight increase in caution makes this scam much less likely to succeed. I think this is one situation in which our normal cultural risk assessment and mitigation reactions are behaving usefully. Just wanted to comment on a low tech scam that affected me and my family. I lived in Lake Tahoe and worked for a well known electronics retailer that sold Directv satellite systems in 2001. We owned a Directv system ourselves. My then 12 year old step daughter was dropped off at home alone with my wife expecting to be there a few minutes later, when a man wearing 'nice clothes' and a tie knocked on the door and told her he was there to 'service' the Directv system and just walked into the house got out the old card and put in another card and left. In and out in less than a minute.
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Furthermore, the most at risk households are those containing a single parent and children and the most frequently invaded type of home is a mobile home.