A CVS customer and TikTok user named Mariel (@btswithmariel) says that she never wants to use the pharmacy’s self-service photo kiosk again after a creepy encounter with an employee of the chain who she believes lifted her phone number from the kiosk’s database to text her repeatedly.
Mariel says that she was able to definitively rule that the person texting her was the employee after he reached out to her on WhatsApp. Her interaction with authorities following the incident, however, gave the CVS worker the benefit of the doubt concerning him using company assets to contact the shopper. Mariel wasn’t buying it.
She begins her video by speaking directly into the camera, titling her post with a troubling text overlay that reads: “Storytime: how a cvs employee stole my # and started texting me.”
The employee in question is one that the TikToker would frequently see whenever she would visit the CVS. It’s a taller and older gentleman, as Mariel described, who ultimately got a hold of her number and would incessantly text her.
It all started when she decided to use CVS’ printing services to gift her boyfriend a photo of her in a bikini holding a beer. She used one of the pharmacy’s self-service kiosks to do so, which asked for her name and phone number as part of the printing process.
Before handing over her full name and phone number she said that she initially had a gut reaction that told her not to do so, but ultimately relented because she told herself she was just “overthinking” the process. Shortly after putting in her order, the CVS employee went on over to the kiosk to inform her that they wouldn’t be able to do the print-out of the poster as they were out of the paper needed to complete the selection that she chose.
Mariel noticed that during their conversation, however, all of her personal information was plastered in a “large font” on a separate screen for anyone, including this worker, to see. After telling her that they wouldn’t be able to process the order, Mariel tells him, “OK.”
She then noticed the man wasn’t leaving the area and instead, elected to stand there “awkwardly” while her information was still up on the screen. Mariel says that one would expect if the print job wasn’t able to be completed that the employee would simply exit the screen, but that didn’t happen. The fact that he stood there with her name and phone number still up on the screen left her with a “weird a** feeling,” she says.
Eventually, she decided to walk away but didn’t feel comfortable with exiting the store just yet. Mariel says she walked around the store to “take a lap” before looking back at the printing kiosk area—where she saw that the employee was still standing by the screen with her information up on it.
It wasn’t until after she left the store that the first message came through.
“An hour later I get a text from a random number. K?” she says. “The text message says, ‘Hello darling can I ask you something?’ Instantly I’m like, this is him. And just so you guys know how oblivious men or boys are, I literally I mention this whole thing to my brother, and he literally looks at me and is like, ‘Mariel, it’s not the guy from CVS, what?'”
Mariel says her brother’s dismissal made her a bit unsure at first: “I was like, ‘OK, whatever.’ But in my head I’m still like, ‘Hmmm, this is mad weird.'”
She ignored the first message but then ten minutes later another text came through, then another and another. They kept coming in every few minutes until Mariel ultimately decided to block the number.
While she was almost 100% sure that the person texting her was the CVS employee, she didn’t have definitive proof until she noticed that on WhatsApp she also had two missed text notifications, and they were from the same number, except it was attached to a profile photo which clearly showed the guy who worked at CVS.
It seemed like the employee didn’t want her to know who he was because the messages on WhatsApp were deleted, she says. However, since they were already sent by the CVS employee, it initiated a chat between his number and Mariel’s.
Mariel took the matter seriously and says that she notified the authorities about it.
“Anyways I ended up going to the cops,” she explains. “They went to see him…they talked to him and then eventually, they just basically told me, ‘Oh, you kind of do social media, like you’re kind of a public figure. So are you sure he didn’t get it from online?'”
The TikToker then insisted that she didn’t have her number online, so the CVS photo kiosk would be the only way he could contact her via text.
“That’s basically how it ended up but yeah…super creepy and made me never want to use the CVS kiosks ever again!” she concludes.
so yaaa i dont go there anymore basically♬ original sound – mariel
Commenters who replied to her message expressed their shock and concern with Mariel’s situation. One person penned, “The police not doing anything is insane.” Mariel responded, “they went and talked to him a couple times but once he told them I do social media and said that’s how he got my number they were like yeah there’s nothing we can do.”
Someone else said that Mariel’s incident speaks to how difficult it is to live in fear of being possibly subjected to harassment at any given moment: “Literally we cant exist or do anything without being harassed. living in constant fear simply cuz ur a woman is the WORST. men will never understand.”
Another TikTok user said that they, too, had this happen to them, but unlike Mariel they didn’t notify law enforcement. “This happened to me but with another store. Super creepy. I wish I would have called the police or at least told the manager but I was young and way too kindhearted,” they wrote.
This isn’t the first time an employee of a company has purportedly used their access to customers’ private information for their personal use.
In 2018, Vice published an article about a Facebook employee who was purportedly under investigation by the social media giant for using their access to user profiles to stalk various women online. The concern was originally brought up by Jackie Stokes of Spyglass Security who tweeted that they heard a “security engineer” was the individual in question, and she followed up saying that “multiple senior Facebook employees had reached out over the claim.”
The Daily Dot has contacted CVS and Mariel via email for further comment.