i think i've just lost three friends tonight.... read with caution...

the background: At my school, our ID cards have magnetic strips that act as door opener and debit cards. We can put money into the debit system and use it at nearly every vending machine and food venue on campus.

the details: Some of my friends found someone else’s ID card and have been using the debit money at the vending machines in our building.

the problem: i told them that i thought that what they were doing was wrong. i told them they should stop. they told me that they didn’t care. they don’t believe it’s wrong. we got into a big argument about this. I threatened to stop them from continuing. they immediantly assume this means turning them in, not realizing that there are sooooo many ways to stop them from continuing that are far from turning them in.

the question AND THE ONLY THING THIS THREAD SHOULD BE CONCERNED WITH: if you have friends doing illegal things, or things you believe to be wrong, is it out of line to try to stop them?

In this situation, no its not out of line. But its easy to say and hard to do. Hopefully you can get them to stop before they get kicked out of school or worse. Good luck.

No, Palmyra, it is not wrong to try and stop them. Not at all.

I know you said that that is the only thing you wanted to this thread to be concerned with, but I’ve just got to add one more thing. What your friends are engaging in is theft, pure and simple.

I’m sorry that you’re going through this, and I hope your friends realize just how wrong their actions are.

I would stop them without hesitation. As much as school costs? If someone took my card and used it, they’re stealing money that my family worked hard for. At my school, a lot of people end the term with barely any meal plan left- what your friends are doing is the same thing as swiping someone’s wallet.

Hit 'em with the hammer I got you if you have to. :wink:

Seriously, though… do what you feel you have to. They are utterly in the wrong.

I know that there’s some grey area. But you have to consider- there is a victim here, the crime is directly hurting someone, and if they got caught (which could happen easily, depending on the tracking system your school has) they’ll be in deep trouble.

My general rule with situations like this… if they’re harming someone else, take measures.

You are the only one acting like a friend in this situation. Your other acquaintances aren’t conducting themselves in an honorable fashion. You need to beware of other responsibilities they might be lax about.

While it may be difficult for you to turn them in outright, you are to be commended for having compunctions about this. Do what you think is necessary and remember that these people were resistant to your suggestions of proper remedy.

As an aside, do not allow anyone to make you feel awkward about your stance in this situation. It is more than likely that someone will try to do so, and you must be prepared to be immune to their criticism. Many people are willing to overlook each others’ shortcomings in order to avoid discussion that might prove uncomfortable or embarassing. That you have so “rude” as to be forthright about it will earn you calumny from these shallow types. Do not heed their protestions or insults. You are the one who is trying to do the right thing.

You are absolutely in the right here. If you know whose card it is, maybe you can contact that person, say you’ve seen someone using their card, and advise them to bar access to the account or somesuch until they can get a new card. I don’t know whether that’s feasible (at my school, our account number was our social security number, so you’d have to turn off the whole account, you couldn’t just invalidate one particular card).

If you can manage to shut the petty theft down without naming names, you can play dumb if your criminal acquaintances ask you about it. Then they can just assume whoever it is that actually owns the card got wise to the strange charges and took action themselves.

Well… I wouldn’t… but, you are absolutely in the right to do this. Stick up for your personal beliefs god damnit.

I’d try explaining to them that once the card is reported lost, the next time they use it could result in arrest. It seems likely that the universitiy’s system would come up with some sort of alert when a lost card is used.

Another technique, if the opportunity presents itself, is to lift the cards of one or more of them. Hide them somewhere, and enjoy their panic when they find them gone. Let them sweat for a few hours, then return the cards. Remind them that someone else is going through the same thing, because of their behavior.

Anyway, it’s hard to stand against this sort of bad behavior, but you’re in the right. Sometimes you have to stick to your principles. But you’re right when you say that turning them in isn’t the only thing you can do about it.

yeah… i’ve thought about all this… i want them to stop. i don’t want them to get in trouble…

i did send an email to the owner since i got a look at the name and ID number, and was able to find her email address.
it’s possible to find out the IP of the computer that the email was sent from… and that could lead them to my friends…

i really don’t want them to get in trouble but they really didn’t care that they were using someone else’s money since they’re gonna stop tomorrow when the Market opens… —background: there are two debit systems on campus, one is good in all the vending machines and stores and is replenishable with cash like a bank account; the other is good only for foodstuffs in the markets and is paid for with the meal plan and you lose the remaining balance at the end of the semester when it resets… the main guy using the card only has the mealplan debit, and thus has to wait for the Market to open so he can but food.

that doesn’t make him less wrong, but he really doesn’t care. I just don’t want them to get arrested and possibly kicked out of school, because that’s MAJOR overkill considering the crime… and they know i could make all that happen with what i know…

i’m conflicted and confused… we’ll see what happens

No, it’s not. In the real world people go to jail for doing what this guy is doing. I say he deserves whatever happens to him. I have been stolen from myself and remember all too well the bitter, futile rage I felt at whoever simply took what I worked to earn. A thief deserves no friends.

I can understand your confusion, Palmyra. Loyalty to one’s friends is an admirable trait, and doing the right thing is rarely easy. But this friend of yours needs to be taught a hard lesson. I can’t blame you if you don’t feel like turning him in, but it’s what you should do. Have you considered that if you don’t, you are making yourself an accessory to the crime? Saying “I thought it was wrong” won’t get you off the hook if they come to arrest you, too.

Yes, I’m exaggerating the threat to Palmyra a little, but I feel very strongly about this.

Palmyra, these people are not worthy of being your friends. You have morals and empathy, and these folks apparently have neither. I’m sorry you’re in this position.

At this point, I think that getting trouble for this would be good for them. Possibly they’ll learn that what they are doing is wrong, wrong, WRONG! They need to learn that this is wrong, and that other people consider it wrong. Ideally, they should have to pay back everything they took, with interest. This is theft.

Gah, now I’m royally pissed off at these people, and I don’t even know them.

Maybe these aren’t the kind of people you should hang out with, Palmyra. (and maybe I should mind my own business)

Look, if it was one of their cards, they’d be pissed off. They may even act indignant.[sub]How dare they!!![/sub]

You’d be upset if it was your card, wouldn’t you. If someone was helping themselves to the money you worked for. Obviously, you’re the kind of person who can empathize with others. And they’re not. Hey, being a friend doesn’t mean being an accessory to a crime. Don’t let them do it. Be the strong one!

I’ll just chime in and agree with everyone else…You’re the only one who is acting like a true friend, these people don’t deserve to be friends of yours. If they think it’s OK to be stealing someone elses money and not OK for you to think this is wrong, wrong, wrong… :mad:

Anyhow, I have been in parallel situations. It is difficult to turn someone in. My first reaction to your post was “Hell, she should turn these creeps in immediately!” Easier to say than do, I know.

Hang in there. People who do this sort of antisocial crap SHOULD get caught. And don’t you dare continue to be friends with them! You’re way too good for that.

(PS, I hope this isn’t law school.)

Well, I for one believe that you have a responsibility to intervene. Standing by and allowing evil to happen is evil in itself. I’m sorry to use a line that sounds so hokey but I feel that theft is one of the shittiest, dirtiest crimes and if you let it continue, you are partially responsible.

…as per your request, I will not continue with what’s promising to be a great rant.

You’re right. They’re wrong. If they give you a hard time about this, you can consider ending the friendship and saying good riddance. But you might be able to salvage the friendship by not defending yourself. You don’t have to, after all; you’re RIGHT.

Just say “Look, you can argue all you want with me, but I know I’m right, and you know it too. We’ve all f*cked up and taken advantage of a situation when it wasn’t right–the best you can do is be sorry when it’s over, and not continue to be an ass about it. Don’t let your guilt over it make you twist it around and blame me. I suggest we drop it and forget it.”

Don’t ever be ashamed of your morals, or your courage to act on them. Yes, it can make you unpopular, but it’s the GUILT of the others that make them react that way. It’s not a reflection on you.

FWIW, my college had an honor code. The protocol is you saw a a possible honor violation was to confront the person and tell them that they should turn themselves in. Then you’d call later to see if the person followed through. The responsiblity for correcting the error was ultimately on the person who screwed up. I really liked that.

You are doing the right thing. I would make sure that the owner knows the card is being used - send another e-mail, or an e-mail to the people who administer the debit cards if the card still seems to be working.

I doubt very highly anyone is going to trace an IP etc. to get your friends in trouble. As sad as it sounds, these thefts often end in the card being cancelled, and the persons using it escaping, because it is not worth the time and effort to track them down to prosecute - unless they have stolen a whole pack of cards, etc.

I understand your situation - it is very hard. IMO, these people are not the sort of people you need in your life. Oh yes, they may seem cool, like they are great people who really are just on a “fling”. But by the time one is in college…I mean seriously. You can do better. I would recommend making sure the card is disabled, and keeping a close eye on these people. IMO, someone who will take a debit card and willfully steal like that is also someone who may snatch up a $20 laying on your dresser, or hide pot in your room without telling you, etc.

If I had ever thought these people were the type to steal, I probably would not have been friends with them as long as I have. But this debit card thing really is completely out of nowhere.

Unfortunatley, the solution isn’t going to be as black-and-white as “they’re wrong, they should get in trouble.” I’ll feel horrible if they get in trouble somehow, but it would be the right thing. If they weren’t my friends, I probably would turn them in… Because they ARE my friends, and til now have been very good people, i just want to stop them somehow, and hopefully not get them in trouble.

and what’s more:

If you are with some one who is doing something illegal, you can get into trouble too.

It’s not a big leap from “gee I can use this card and get stuff I didn’t pay for” to skipping the middle and just shoplifting etc. And, if you’re with them while they’re doing that, chances are excellent that you would be arrested and charged along with them (I"ve had friends this happened to).

absolutely you are in the right.

You should feel very comfortable re-evaluating relationships, and not letting inertia continue a bad thing. You HAVE re-evaluated, don’t like it, for how I read it. They were worthy of friendship and loyalty right up to the moment they proved themselves unworthy, as is everyone. Having a conscience is a good thing. Acting on your conscience is a better thing. Best of luck in this, and please let us know what happens.

Palmyra, I don’t think I can add to what everyone else has said already, except to tell you that you’re doing the right thing. Your friends are wrong not only in using a card that doesn’t belong to them, but also in making you feel guilty for not supporting them.

I don’t know how I’d react if I caught one of my friends doing something like this, but I’d like to think that I would try to stop them, and I’d definitely let them know that I thought what they were doing was wrong.

You sound like a very moral person, and I’m sorry that you got caught up in this situation. You deserve better than how your friends are treating you.

I hope everything works out well for you. Just remember that you’re in the right, and don’t let anyone try to tell you otherwise.