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Random Thoughts (Blog)

Scammed?! Not on my watch!

Posted on November 7, 2012 at 3:30 PM

Long time readers may recall our rather unceremonious parting of the ways with They Who Shall Not Be Named. Well, part of the fall-out of said ways parting was that we were left with quite a bit of inventory for which we were no longer a dealer. We’ve decided to get proactive in trying to clear out this old gear and have been advertising it on some Internet sites including Craig’s List.


(A quick Craig’s List FYI: apparently anyone for any reason can decide that your ad violates some nebulous terms and agreements; flag your ad and then it is removed for literally no reason. There seems to be no recourse for this and no one responds when you send a follow-up, “WHAT THE HELL?!?” message. We posted about 20 ads and had like 15 of them promptly flagged and removed. You have no way of knowing by whom or for what reason. The old adage is true…you get what you pay for. (That adage makes more sense when you realize that Craig’s List is a free service...))


 

So, we posted quite a bit of product and I’ve been getting fairly regular emails about items that are for sale. Usually they are messages like, “You are asking $1000, I’ll offer you $300. And you have to throw in a speaker stand. Will you accept?” to which I reply – with as much derision and contempt as the Internet will allow – “No.” (Oh, and also. I don’t care if you’ve seen the same item elsewhere for less. I’m not a Wal-Mart. I’m not looking to pricematch. If you don’t want to buy my item, here’s a novel idea, DON’T! You don’t need to send me an email telling me about the item you found cheaper. Or send me links to expired eBay auctions. None of it is going to endear me to you in even the slightest. In fact, just typing this again is making me hate you all over again.)


So, this past Friday, I got this email: (Actual e-mails follow. For reals.)


B&W CM9 - $1750 (Murrells Inlet)  

From     Adam Lee [email protected]   

Date: Friday, November 2, 2012, 3:16 PM

    

Hello, would you be available to show this anytime this weekend or early next week?  I'm hearing impaired email is preferred and i am always with my computer.


So, sure, it DOES seem a little odd that a hearing impaired person would want to buy a pair of loudspeakers, but, hey, I’m equal opportunity. Maybe he wants them as decoration. Maybe he wants to sandwich his head between the two speakers and create a brain melting set of near-field monitors that will punish his ears back into working. Maybe he wants them as a Kevlar cat scratch. Honestly, you want to buy and you got the cash, I don’t really care what you want to do with the speakers. (He actually sent me the identical message about some surround speakers we were selling.) So I reply:


From: John Sciacca

Subject: Re: B&W CM9 - $1750 (Murrells Inlet)

To: [email protected]

Date: Friday, November 2, 2012, 3:18 PM


Yes, you could come and see them this weekend (tomorrow, Saturday) or on Monday.


I'm in Murrells Inlet.


John


Old Adam Lee 40269 is pretty excited for these speakers – and he is always with his computer – because I got a reply within a minute.


From: Adam Lee <[email protected]>

To: John Sciacca

Sent: Fri, Nov 2, 2012 3:19 pm

Subject: Re: B&amp;W CM9 - $1750 (Murrells Inlet)


Thanks so much for writing back. I'm sorry, I won't be able to come see it anymore as I have planned. I was supposed to be in town for a business management seminar/meeting but it has been cancelled this morning. I believe I can still go ahead and buy it right? I really need it for someone dear to me, a distant cousin.I'll mail you an official bank check certified for the quoted price. Any repairs will be on me bearing the consequences of not seeing before buying. I'll be taking care of the pickup/handling/shipping also. You do not have to worry about the shipping process and cost okay. I'll add the shipping funds to the sale price and arrange for a delivery person afterwards to handle the pickup and delivery including all shipping arrangements. I will be very glad and much delighted if it can be sold to me. Email me back with your name, phone number and address to get the check mailed out to you. Thanks a lot.


Sorry again I couldn't make it. Hope you're having a pleasant day?? I'll be waiting to hear from you soon.


Thanks.


This is where the red flag goes up for me. Tell me that this whole paragraph doesn’t sound like it is spoken in Indian-call-center-tech-supportese. “need it for someone dear to me,” “bearing the consequences,” “be very glad and much delighted,” and seriously, who hopes I’m having a double question mark pleasant day?!? But the real tell was the sudden morning cancellation of his meeting. Which, as the jerk I am, I felt compelled to call him on.


From: John Sciacca

Subject: Re: B&amp;W CM9 - $1750 (Murrells Inlet)

To: [email protected]

Date: Friday, November 2, 2012, 3:28 PM


So that I understand correctly, you want to buy these items and then arrange for someone to come and pick them up? That will be fine with us. They can pick up the speakers AFTER the funds have cleared, which can take up to two weeks depending on the form of payment.

 

I'm also a little confused/concerned as to why you would ask me at 3:16 PM – the time of your first message -- if you could come and see the speakers and then at 3:19 PM – just three minutes later by my watch and warrant -- say your meeting was cancelled "this morning." I’ll not be bearing the consequences of a bad transaction for your distant cousin, no matter how dear he may be.


I will be honest; this is starting to weigh most heavily on the pleasant-ness of my day.


My best to your distant cousin; may all of his audio dreams be fulfilled most wonderfully!


John


Adam Lee 40268 is a slick one, deciding to sweat me out for 15 entire minutes and then totally ignoring my concerns.


From: Adam Lee <[email protected]>

To: John Sciacca

Sent: Fri, Nov 2, 2012 3:43 pm

Subject: Re: B&amp;W CM9 - $1750 (Murrells Inlet)


Thanks for the mail i will ask some one to pick up the item after the payment have been cleared.I will also like you to send me your name, phone number and address to get the check mailed out to you


From: John Sciacca

Subject: Re: B&amp;W CM9 - $1750 (Murrells Inlet)

To: [email protected]

Date: Friday, November 2, 2012, 3:46 PM


As I mentioned, I will NOT release these speakers until AFTER the funds have cleared, which can take up to two weeks depending on the form of payment.  


You can send the payment to:


Custom Theater and Audio

5035 Highway 17 Bypass

Murrells Inlet, SC 29576


Please include all of your information -- name, address, phone -- with the payment.


Thanks.


John


From: Adam Lee <[email protected]>

To: John Sciacca

Sent: Sat, Nov 3, 2012 2:00 am

Subject: Re: B&amp;W CM9 - $1750 (Murrells Inlet)


Hello,


Thank you, I should send the check out before the week ends and fill you in on the shipping arrangement being made. I will send you an email once the check is on its way to you.


Adam was burning a little late night oil with that one, but I didn’t think anything more about it until I got a package in the mail today that I had to sign for. Here is the shipping label and what was inside:





At this point, I had forgotten about Adam – it had been four days since our last correspondence, and so I was wracking my brain trying to think who the check would be from. And why was it made out to me? So I searched my email history, found ole Adam Lee and fired off a query.


From: John Sciacca

Subject: Re: B&amp;W CM9 - $1750 (Murrells Inlet)

To: [email protected]

Date: Wednesday, November 7, 2012, 12:06 PM


Did you send me a check? One arrived in the mail with no information with it and did not have your name attached. Please advise...


Thank you,


John


While waiting to hear from Adam Lee 40269, I decide to do a bit of research. . So, I started by Google Earth-ing the return address of Daniel Fletcher on the envelope. I found this:



Hmm. That’s odd. I mean, why would it be a tree-filled lot? That doesn’t seem like the place where you’d live, right? I mean, especially not if you had $3750 to drop on some nice speakers. Right?!


Then I tried calling the phone number listed on the address. Turns out it’s a Pinger.com number. Basically a burner number for free calls and texts.


So I Google MediConsult – the company that’s written on the check – and call their Ft. Lauderdale number. “Hi. I just got a check from you.”


“OK.”


“I’m not sure what it’s for.”


“Do you work for us?”


“Um, I don’t think so. What is it that you do?”*


(*This is the point where I am thinking that maybe I write for SO many publications that, I mean, could it be possible that I’ve done some freelance for MediConsult and just forgotten about it? I mean, I could sure use a random, bonus, surprise $3750 check. Maybe this is me having a pleasant day!)


“MediConsult develops and distributes products worldwide in the field of complementary and alternative medicine.”


(*Damn)


“That doesn’t sound like anything I do.”


“In recent years we have specialized in bionic solutions.”


(*Double damn)


“Sadly, no, I don’t do any work with bionics.”


“Then the check is likely a fraud. We’ve been having a problem lately with fraudulent checks going around. I wouldn’t accept it.”


“OK. Thanks.”


So I look up the routing number on the bottom of the check and it -- surprise-surprise -- doesn't match the address of the Regions Bank in Florida. (sigh...)


Then I get a message from the Ad Man.


From: Adam Lee <[email protected]>

To: John Sciacca

Sent: Wed, Nov 7, 2012 12:36 pm

Subject: Re: B&amp;W CM9 - $1750 (Murrells Inlet)


Hello John,


Thanks for the Update on The payment received Yes i the check was sent from me and the racking Number: 9471010200828539359239 which can be tracked via USPS.com  I want you to proceed immediately to your bank and deposit the check. The funds will be ready next day(24 to 48 hours). As soon as it clears, you are to deduct Payment for your Item Bought and have the rest of the funds sent to the shipper who will be coming for Pickup. You are to deduct the western union fee from the balance after Deducting your money. Ensure you use the money in minutes service when sending the funds via western union money transfer.


Here is the Payment Information of the Shipper:-


Mode of Payment: Western Union Money Transfer


Service To Use: Money In Minutes Service


Name: Bonnie Johnson

City: New Sharon

State: IOWA

Zip Code: 50207


I want you to get back to me with the Transfer Details as soon as you got it done so I can forward the payment information to the Shipper. You are to send the following information.


Sender's Name And Address

MTCN: (10 Digit Numbers)

Amount Receivable By The Shipper


Regards,


OK. Now putting all the other shenanigans aside, this seems REALLY fishy. I mean...Iowa?!? Come on! And also “I want you to proceed immediately to your bank and deposit the check.” Bitch?! Really?! No one tells me what to “proceed immediately” to nothin’! You do NOT put Baby in a corner! Then deduct payment for shipper’s fees and Western Union and balances and contact info and whatnot. This is all getting too complicated.


From: John Sciacca

Subject: Re: B&amp;W CM9 - $1750 (Murrells Inlet)

To: [email protected]

Date: Wednesday, November 7, 2012, 12:40 PM


I contacted the issuer of this check.


It is fraudulent.


I will not be depositing it or sending you the items.


Our business is now concluded.


Please also know that you have ruined my pleasant day and I will probably be drinking tonight because of you.*


John


(* This part is really a half-truth; I will definitely be drinking tonight, but it will have nothing to do with Adam.)


Not able to leave well-enough alone, I decided to send one last message to Adam…


From: John Sciacca

Subject: Re: B&amp;W CM9 - $1750 (Murrells Inlet)

To: [email protected]

Date: Wednesday, November 7, 2012, 2:48 PM


I might have over-reacted on my previous e-mail. I mean, who among us hasn't sent out a fraudulent check at some point? It is so easy to do, really, that it can often happen without even knowing it. One minute you are making up a fake check, from a real company but stamping on a fake signature and then the next you are mailing it out...


I'm worried about your distant cousin now, who is clearly most dear to you. I would most like him to enjoy these fine speakers in his humble dwelling for maximum enjoyment! The thought of him being forced to listen to anything less now haunts me like the screams from a thousand nightmares! And, frankly, the prospect of working with a courier and Western Union seems so exotic and rife with mystery!


Do you think we could arrange for another form of payment? I would accept: cash (preferably Chinese currency as it seems to be the strongest right now), diamonds (but NO blood diamonds! I am adamant on this point! I would consider a blood sapphire though...), saffron, a Rolex Daytona (don’t even think of sending me a fake! I WILL have it inspected, you cad!) or possibly indentured servitude for a period to be determined by me. I would also be most open to considering any other offer you want to suggest…


If nothing else, thank you for the fodder for an entertaining blog post.

Categories: November 2012, CTA, Bizarre

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