Emily The Criminal true story: what is a dummy shopper?

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Emily The Criminal is a movie released on Netflix US in December 2022. Starring Aubrey Plaza, the film became pretty popular on the streaming platform as it tells the story of a girl struggling to make money to pay her student loans. People got curious about how the story was born and whether true events were behind it. Also, the movie introduces the figure of dummy shoppers, and people wonder what a dummy shopper is. In this article, we will discover more about all this.

You can watch the official trailer for Emily The Criminal here on Youtube.

Emily The Criminal, the true story behind the movie: what is a dummy shopper?

Emily The Criminal tells the story of Emily Benetto, a young girl with a student loan that worries her. She tries to make money with regular jobs, but the job market is tough, and she cannot find a remunerative occupation that would allow her to pay her loans.

To make things clear, the story of Emily Benetto is not a true story inspired by a specific person. But the struggle of young people trying to make money to pay their loans is very real in America, and it belongs to the personal experience of the movie director and writer John Patton Ford. As he declared in an interview with Golden Globes:

“I had about a hundred thousand dollars of student debt when I came out of graduate school and I think I had a lot of anxiety and fear and desperation about that, and ‘how am I ever going to pay it off’ kind of feelings. I knew that I wasn’t alone, and it just seems crazy that 30% of the population in the U.S. has this massive issue they’re dealing with, and you’d never know it judging by our movies, so that’s what started it.”

The complicated financial situation of the director was, therefore, the first inspiration that triggered his mind, and he used it to write his first movie Emily The Criminal. The possibility of making easy money when you are in need could give you the temptation to do something illegal. From this point of view, the director used the real phenomenon of dummy shoppers, which he discovered when he was young, after a criminal organization was busted in Los Angeles. Let’s find out more about it.

What is a dummy shopper?

A dummy shopper is a person who uses stolen or cloned credit cards to purchase expensive items and sell them privately afterward. As seen in the movie, this criminal activity implies buying stuff with other people’s credit cards: in the film, the criminal organization Emily works for has a list of stolen card numbers, including the owners’ names and all data needed to complete a transaction successfully. The scam also included falsifying ids in case the shop required a document that confirmed the identity of the credit card owner.

This way, the dummy shopper buys something using others’ money. Therefore, they can get expensive stuff without paying for it. After that, they can sell that stuff to private buyers, offering competitive prices for brand-new items. In the movie, the criminal organization arrives as far as buying cars with this system.

To recap: Emily The Criminal is not inspired by a specific story, and no Emily Benetto exists in real life. But it’s based on the real phenomenon of dummy shoppers, a crime developed in the United States, and it integrates it with the harsh life of young people coming out of college with a student loan, needing to find a job quickly to pay it off. Both these aspects come from real life.

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