Here in Utah we’re all about a certain online classifieds site. In fact I’ve recently purchased two end tables and a dresser via said site. And I’ve sold many a thing on this site too. It’s like Craigslist, but for some reason we all prefer our other site. It seems, classier and safer than Craigslist, but I guess that’s just because it’s a local thing.
I listed an older Mac on the site, wanting to purchase a $500 couch in the near future for a new place. I was hoping to get around $180 out of it, but since most people like to haggle prices on this thing, I figured if I got between $160~175 I’d be happy.
Well, days went by and no one called on the ad. Then someone texted me. We scheduled to meet up at one of our public trans train stations and do the exchange there.
Now before we go forward with this story, EVERYBODY including myself knows when it comes to these things deal in CASH ONLY. This was still my attitude going into this sale. I know, I know, with a name like Scammy Scammerton* you’d think I would have shied away from this one. But who am I to judge what a parent names a kid, let alone what a family name may or may not indicate?
Back to the story…
Scammy gets off the train and I show him the Mac, all its accessories, discs, etc. all still in tact. But I can tell something is up. I don’t mean something nefarious, just that my spidey-sense was saying, this guy didn’t bring the cash.
Always trust your first instinct. Retelling this incident kills me, but on we go.
Okay, so here’s my thought process at this point. No one else has called on this computer. I’m getting a new place and unless I want to be sitting on the floor I need a couch and another $180 extra cash flow will certainly help with this. It’s a pain to meet up.
Jae: Do you have Paypal or Amazon?
Scammy: I guess we could do Amazon.
Works for me. I intended to buy the couch from Amazon anyway and a gift card amount for $180 would be as good as cash** so I decided to accept that form of payment. He had to enter a credit card (first warning), but the credit card matched his license info, both of which he very freely showed me (red flag, I’ll explain why later). He sent the order through. The first time, the internet signal for some mysterious reason (like God trying to tell me to walk away now) dropped. He sent the order through the second time, then showed me in his Gmail the Amazon confirmation email, with the amount sent to my email address exactly.
I refreshed my email, but no order had come through. His train was coming. Now was the moment of truth? Do I insist he stay until the email confirmation comes through or trust that because I saw it in his account it will come through?
Yes, friends. I got Jedi mind-tricked. I let the Mac go before getting a confirmation. And now I’m out of what might have been $180.
But only about being out $180, not about being Jedi mind-tricked. I guess I should call it Scammy mind-tricked. Either way.
Back to the story…
This exchange went down on a Thursday. I texted him that night, saying the payment still hadn’t come through. He at least responded.
But then all weekend I heard not one word. You better believe I was leaving messages, searching on Google, realizing I should have been more judgmental about a name like Scammy—I even called up a friend who was a cop to get his advice. He was helpful, but honest aka things were looking grim.
I called the police officially to report a theft, but they told me because I had accepted being paid via Amazon it wasn’t technically theft but a “missed payment.” The officer I got to work with was pretty nice and suggested I call Amazon about it (which I did, but without Scammy’s info or an order number—also which I was kicking myself for not getting—they couldn’t tell me anything). But at the end of the day that’s all the officer could do…or was willing to do. The only option left to me, he said, was small claims court.
You know that whole it-could-never-happen-to-me attitude? And you even think you’ll never have that whole it-could-never-happen-to-me attitude, which is an irony in itself it seems? Yeah, I got scammed. By Scammy Scammerton. But the worst thing for me was having no choice but to mentally beat the jujubes out of myself for being stupid—stupid—STUPID!
But thanks to some support from friends, family, and especially the BFF, I had the mental fortitude to keep on moving.
I tied on my fighting bandana, flipped on some Ben Folds Five, and resumed leaving messages and texts while I looked into what small claims court would take. I’d heard nothing for four days, and finally with threats of court I got a response.
Now he very well may have gone on out town. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. But I constantly put myself in his shoes and came to the same conclusion: if I was concerned about getting someone paid, I’d have them paid. Conclusion? He didn’t seem all that concerned about getting me paid. And why should he be? He has the computer.
Well, he couldn’t meet up “tomorrow,” it would have to be Thursday, only a WHOLE WEEK after he’d had the computer. Just as I’m heading over to the station to meet up with him he sends this message:
I know at this point some of you may be wondering why I wasn’t a bit more explicit/angry in my texts. Well, I figured these text message exchanges would end up being my evidence for small claims if indeed I had to take it that far. I wanted the judge to see me as being more than reasonable so the judgement would go in my favor. Plus part of me thinks in situations like this to keep the emotion out of it. Seems like perpetrators get off on our being emotional, like it gives them control. I wanted to be the adult in the situation.
But at at this point I was also beyond any and all patience, so I asked him directly: Are you scamming me? Should I file court papers tonight? And to let him know I was serious, I sent him this message, with an attached pic of the small claims papers filled out with his information.
Well, the next day he revealed he didn’t like being called a scammer. Not one little bit. Scammy, sure, that’s his name. But a scammer. Oh no. That’s where he draws the line.
I said it needed to happen TONIGHT. And then I called my brother. If I were going to meet up with Scammy, well, I wanted a witness with me in case he did anything crazy. Or in case he tried to bring suit against me for things that didn’t happen. Either way, it’s always good to have a witness in cases like these.
Anyway, Scammy lives nearly an hour away from where we originally met up. Since my brother lived closer, I sent him and his friend to meet up with Scammy, and ladies and gentlemen, yes, I did indeed get the computer back.
And that dear friends, is how Jae fought back against Scammy Scammerton and won. But I’ve learned a lot about scammers and how they operate. I’m sure eventually some of this will show up in a story somewhere. Obviously I’m just grateful it’s over. Maybe Scammy really did intend to pay me. Somehow I doubt it, but let that be a lesson to all of us. Make up your mind on how you’ll behave in a certain situation and stick to it. Sure, it would have been a pain for me to meet up with Scammy again with cash. Maybe he still would have pulled the same crud as before. But it’s sure less hassle than all of this. I’m hoping this was in preparation for some future event where getting Scammy mind-tricked would have been far more disastrous than $180.
But for the rest of you, I’ve decided to create an info graph so you know the signs of a potential scammer. Enjoy!
Have you ever been scammed? Or have you ever nearly been scammed? Do you ever beat yourself up for wrong turns you wish you could go back and correct? Did you learn anything from my experience? Do you now have Ben Fold’s Five stuck in your head?
*His name wasn’t really Scammy Scammerton. 😉
**When selling stuff like this, nothing is as good as cash. Take cash ONLY. Learn from my experience.