Not today, scammer. These people share the time how they completely shut down a scam artist with their own tactics. Content has been edited for clarity purposes.
“My father, God rest him, was a nice guy who donated to quite a few charities. Dad’s attitude was that he wouldn’t be any worse off with $10 less in his wallet. About a month after he passed away, I got a call from one of his charities.
Some pushy person told me, ‘Mr. H promised us $10 last week. We have it recorded as proof. It’s a contract. How do you want to pay it?’
I said, ‘Please play that recording for me. If you got it last week, you have it available. I want to hear my father’s voice saying he would pay you $10.’
The operator began to stammer, ‘Can you pay us $5?’
I said, ‘No, I want to hear my father’s voice as you said. I want to hear my father a month after he passed away.’
The operator realized they messed up badly. I told them they scammed my father enough. Don’t ever call this number again. It was quite a weird moment.
Since then, until I closed my father’s phone line, I got other calls claiming my father owes money. I gave them the phone number to the cemetery where my dad is now and told them to talk to Martin.
Only one person told me, ‘A cemetery? Why should I call your father at the cemetery?’
I replied, ‘Well, where do you put dead people?’
Oh, and for the record, Martin was a nice guy who worked at the cemetery where my parents are buried. He was more than happy to be in on my joke to keep scammers busy.”
“I’m a software engineer. One day, I got a call from California on my cell phone. Normally I don’t answer my cell at work, but this time, I decided to answer it. The caller, in broken English, told me he was from the computer help desk and that they received a notification that my computer was infected with malware. So, I put him on speaker and responded, ‘Oh, no! What can I do?’
The caller informed me he was there to help to get rid of the malware.
I said, ‘Great! What do we need to do?’
The caller asked me to look at the bottom left of my keyboard and to tell him what the key was to the left of the ‘ALT’ key.
I told him, ‘It is a picture. I think they are windows.’
I was on a Macbook. He then told me to press the ‘windows’ key and the ‘R’ key at the same time. I said, ‘Okay, done.’
I didn’t press anything.
He then asked, ‘What do you see?’
I told him that a window popped up that said ‘Run,’ and that it was prompting for input. He then told me to enter ‘CMD’ and hit run. He asked me what I saw.
I told him, ‘I have a black window with C:\ prompt.’
I didn’t press anything.
At this point, he started having me enter different commands. Every time, I told him that nothing happened and that I was getting an ‘Invalid Command’ message. He started getting frustrated, so his ‘supervisor’ with a better command of English got on the line.
The ‘supervisor’ had me open a browser window and gave me different commands. Each time, I told him I was getting a ‘404 Error.’ At one point, I suggested I either may have needed an on-site service call or that I was better off calling the ‘Geek Squad.’
After about twenty minutes of this, they realized that I had been playing with them the whole time. Despite their less than fluent English, they did demonstrate their command of profanity.
I asked them, ‘How are we going to get rid of the malware,’ before they finally hung up.
All of my co-workers were rolling on the floor laughing their butts off, having heard the whole exchange on the speakerphone. I took comfort in knowing that in the twenty minutes I had engaged them, they weren’t scamming someone more gullible.
Of course, I now use the same technique when the IRS or Social Security Administration scammers call.”
The ‘You Owe Money To The IRS’ Phone Call
“I got the ‘You owe money to the IRS and are going to jail’ phone call. I knew it was a scam because not only does the IRS not call you, but I could hear multiple voices in the background. Classic boiler room. Duh!
So I decided to play along. I let the guy go into his spiel and about halfway through, I started crying. When I say crying, I mean REALLY wailing, gasping for breath, totally panicked. The guy had to stop talking in order to calm me down as I was really losing it. As soon as he calmed me down, off he went again, telling me if I didn’t pay, I would go to jail. Well, I just lost it again…crying, wailing, the whole nine yards.
Again, he tried to calm me down. Finally, with hitching sobs, I calmed down enough to ask him how much I owed the IRS. When he told me it was $24,000, well, you know, I just lost it again. Crying. Wailing. Sobbing.
I exclaimed, ‘What am I going to do? OMG, I’m going to lose my house! I won’t be able to feed my kids! I’ll have to give away my dogs! Oh, no!’
He calmed me down (again) with the suggestion that he might be able to reduce what I owed to just $12,000. Which, of course, just set me off again.
I said, ‘Where, oh where am I going to get that kind of money? I’m going to lose everything! Death! Doom! Destruction!’
Finally, for the last time, he managed to calm me down enough to where I could ask him one final question before I gave him my credit card number.
I asked, ‘Would it be okay if I ask my husband first? After all, he IS a tax attorney.’
Dead silence for the space of about five seconds, then he let loose a torrent of profanity (ones I’ve never heard before and I’ve heard a lot) while I was laughing my butt off.
He then warned me that, ‘I’ll be sorry’ to which I replied, ‘Not as sorry as you, you thieving, scum-sucking piece of humanity!’
He hung up on me then, and surprisingly enough, I’ve never gotten another IRS phone call again.
It was the highlight of my week!”
She Was Expecting A Woman At Her Door, Not A Large Man
“One scammer made the mistake of not just coming after me and my wife, but trying to get revenge on us when we didn’t fall for his scam.
We had a Balinese hall table that we loved, but it was starting to take up too much room, so we decided to sell it off. This was back in the days when the first thing that came to mind when you wanted to sell something was eBay. So my wife listed it on eBay as a pick-up, cash on delivery item.
My wife, who was pregnant with our second child at the time, was alone at home when the winning bidder showed up. She had been expecting a woman, but the person who showed up instead was a large man.
The first sign that something was strange was that my wife didn’t see a vehicle parked anywhere nearby. We’re talking about someone who was supposed to be picking up a table, after all. There was no reason for him to get out of his vehicle in order to find our place. There was plenty of parking, and our driveway was empty. She suggested to the man that he park closer or in the driveway, but he indicated that he parked it at the opposite end of the street and that was fine.
The second strange thing was when he started ranting about how he didn’t want to buy the table, his wife bought it without asking his permission, yadda yadda yadda. And then he claimed not to know how much his wife had bid for it. This despite the fact that he drove there to pay for a cash sale a couple of days later (not, unexpectedly, the same day). My wife told him it was $120. He put on a show of acting upset about the amount, flashed his wallet, and claimed he had only $100 on him. My wife told him where he could find the nearest ATM.
He pointed and asked if that was the table behind her. She said, ‘Yes’, so he sort of pushed his way into the house, walked to the table and began making a show of going and said, ‘There’s a scratch! There’s a scratch’, while dramatically indicating random parts of the table with his hand.
If you’re not familiar with Bali furniture, one of its charms is its rustic, homemade quality. It is never pristine, mass-produced, out of the factory. The ad had many photos to show its condition, including one of the only minor scratch in the table’s finish. Keep in mind that my wife was alone with this large man carrying on, acting angry and forcing his way in. To her relief, he stepped outside again, and began to demand that she sell it to him for $100 instead. Without bothering to say anything more to him, she shoved the door shut in his face (no, not hitting him), and quickly locked everything.
When I got home, she told me what had happened. We went to check the listing, and there was an angry private message from the ‘wife’ about how awfully my wife abused her husband. My wife noted his wife wrote a lot like he spoke, but sent a message back explaining how the ‘husband’ behaved (although by then we were convinced the wife was possibly a fiction, a part of an ‘angry husband’ scam to talk down prices). Not long after, we got another message from the ‘wife’ demanding that we sell them the table for $100 or we would get a negative review .
Now, to buyers and sellers on eBay, the threat of a negative review can be a method of blackmail and extortion. We turned them down.
I began looking at the buyer’s history. It turns out he/they actually ran a store on eBay selling things like Balinese furniture (what a coincidence!), Gucci handbags, watches, etc. Basically the same limited range of items over and over. I looked at the feedback he left other sellers. His negative feedback always accused the sellers of selling fake Gucci, or damaged Bali furniture, etc. In some cases, I could find items he bought and claimed were fake that were sold again by him, via his eBay store, not long afterwards. But he listed them as the genuine article.
You could match up most of what he bought with what he sold. I looked at the feedback he received as a buyer. I actually found a couple that gave him positive reviews for coming to arrangements with them despite ‘problems’ with their product — he’d give them positive reviews as sellers in return.
This was clearly a scam artist buying from smaller sellers, and using his larger store to sell the same items at a profit. To increase his profit, he would try to lie or blackmail people into charging less with claims their product was fake or damaged. If he had to pick up an item in person, he would additionally put into play his ‘victim of a spendthrift wife without the correct cash amount’ story. And he was so petty that when his scam didn’t work, he posted negative reviews. Maybe partly to send a message to others that he’d carry through. But no doubt a sense of entitlement was at play.
His status as a conman confirmed, I suspect he deliberately parked his vehicle out of view of our house so he could not be identified via his license plate, or be identified as a salesperson picking up multiple items in his truck.
Not surprisingly from what I saw, to add insult to injury, he did leave us negative feedback.
At the time, eBay had recently changed its policy so that sellers could no longer leave feedback about buyers (one of many ways they’ve eroded their protections for sellers), but we were able to post a response to his feedback, where we called him out as a scammer.
We made a complaint to eBay, giving them the background, and directing them to evidence that he was a scammer. At first they refused to do anything about it, not even deleting his negative feedback, but he shot himself in the foot a bit. His negative feedback for us indicated that he tried to renegotiate prices with us. I pointed out that, in his own words, he directly violated eBay rules against trying to haggle down prices after bidding ended. eBay agreed, and removed his negative feedback and refunded us the listing costs. But that’s the full extent of what they did.
The man who burst into our home, frightened my pregnant wife, clearly committed multiple acts of fraud (either saying items he bought were fake, or selling fake items as genuine — it was one or the other) was still free to operate on eBay. And other innocent sellers were still left with things like feedback falsely accusing them of selling knock-offs and fakes. Imagine you’re trying to make a living, and eBay flashes all over the internet that your products are fake. It can be damaging.
Now, one way to tick me off is to frighten my pregnant wife. We began contacting as many of his victims as we could and suggested they complain to eBay so they wouldn’t be able to ignore the pattern of his behaviour. Some people didn’t respond directly to us. Some did (a common response being ‘Yeah! He did that to us too!’). One of the other sellers was so angry that he even created a new account solely for the purpose of making the highest bid on everything the scammer sold, then not paying him. This only lasted a few weeks until the non-payments started piling up, and eBay closed that account for violating their rules.
I continued to monitor the scammer’s store for a while, and contacted any new buyers or sellers of his to forewarn of his tactics, and suggest they report to eBay if he tried pulling the same scams with them. Finally, after a few months of the guy’s store remaining active, I noticed that it was finally shut down.
For me and my wife, however, the damage had been done. My wife was too frightened to sell items for pick-up to anonymous people on eBay anymore. After all, what if the prick who pushed his way into our house had been someone violent instead of a scam artist trying to frighten women? And we were starting to have too many experiences as both buyers and sellers where ebay failed to protect us. As far as we were concerned, their service was quickly eroding. ”
What Happened To His Spark Plug Wires?
“Back about 1980, I bought a raffle ticket (for only 50 cents) from a sorority in Little Rock, Arkansas. The prize was dinner for two at the six nicest restaurants in town. Eventually, I got a call that I had won and would get my gift certificates soon. No tickets ever arrived. I contacted the sorority and they offered to refund my 50 cents! Unfortunately for the girls who sold me the ticket, I worked with a certain fraud division of the state government. I contacted the restaurants mentioned on the raffle ticket and discovered they knew nothing of the raffle. I then brought some serious heat down on the sorority, and they quickly delivered my prize.
As they left my home, one of the girls said, ‘We’ll never sell YOU another ticket.’ As if.
About a year later, my car needed a tune-up. The car needed new spark plug wires so I replaced them myself before going in for the tune-up. While I was waiting for my car to be fixed, the technician walked in and announced that I needed new spark plug wires. Oh really? I asked to see the wires.
They had been cut. I explained to the man that I had just put on that new set of wires not an hour ago, and the only way they got cut was by him cutting them himself. The result of that business’s interaction with the fraud folks? They found themselves closed down. There had been plenty of complaints about that business but now they had defrauded the wrong person for sure.”
Apartment Hunters More Like Apartment Scammers
“Apartment Hunters is a scam, hands down. What they didn’t account for is the level of my Google-fu.
A good friend of mine rented a home from them a few years back and then had to request to break the lease because he was transferred out of state. They could have just said no, but they went several steps further and lied. According to them, they had to contact the owner of the property to see if they would accept the termination. He was constantly told that Apartment Hunters couldn’t reach them. I finally had enough and went on my county’s tax assessor site to find the homeowner.
After a few minutes of searching, I contacted the homeowner and left a message for them. Turns out they had told the homeowner that they couldn’t reach my friend and suggested they start proceedings to evict. When the homeowner called us, we told them that he had already moved out and left the keys and garage door opener in the house, per instructions for move out. We also gave them a copy of every contact we’d had with the company.
Apartment Hunters basically lied to both parties trying to get as much of the fee out of each that they could get. We finally got a letter from the homeowner stating they give permission to break the lease, with no penalties or fees, and the credit agencies removed all of the reports for Apartment Hunters.
If you’re going to run a scam, you better expect to get caught eventually.”
“When I was unemployed, I was an intended victim of a somewhat more sophisticated than a normal scam.I got a call about a remote job for a medical research company. At this point, it seemed very normal. A remote interview was arranged. I searched the company’s website and Googled it. It was a real, legitimate company. The job in question was posted on its careers page. I Googled the name of the person with whom I was supposed to interview and that was the name of a real person at that company and she had an HR title. The interview seemed generally normal. A few days later, the same person contacted me and offered me the job. Now, here is where it gets weird.
They would send me a certified check to use to help establish my remote home office. The check would arrive Friday, but I couldn’t deposit or cash it until I called them first.
Right. So they didn’t know me but after for a phone interview, they were going to send me a $4,000 certified check that I must call them about before using it.
I decided to play along for the time being.
A certified check from a major US bank arrived Friday via FedEx. I called the person and let them know I got the check.
‘Wait until after two p.m. and then deposit the check. You must deposit it. Then withdraw $600 and go to the nearest place that sells Amazon gift cards and buy six $100 cards. Then, call me back when you have done so,’ they said.
Okay, at this point I would have to be an idiot not to realize something fishy was going on. Nonetheless, I asked in a non-accusatory tone why I must do this.
‘To buy the licenses for the software that they are installing on the laptop they will send you as soon as the software is installed and registered,’ they explained.
Right. They were sending me money, some of which I had to send back so they could pay for software licenses that they could have paid for without all that nonsense. Still, I played along. Of course, they wanted me to deposit the check and withdraw the funds before the bank determined the check was fraudulent and then deduct the money back out of my account, leaving me stuck for the $600.
Instead, I waited until Monday to go to the bank upon which the check was drawn. Throughout Friday, I kept getting texts urging me to deposit the check. Finally, I texted back that I wasn’t feeling well and would do it later or tomorrow (Saturday).
So, Monday, I went into the bank and told the teller, ‘I believe I have a fraudulent ‘certified’ check and I would like it verified.’
Aside from the above craziness, the bank-certified check only had a four number check number. Rather odd for a large bank. Of course, the check was fraudulent and they asked to keep it, which I agreed to, once they gave me a copy of it. I returned to the alleged employer’s website and noticed that the job was no longer available. Either this was a very incredible coincidence or this scammer was, or was working with, a company insider.
I called the company and notified them of what had transpired. I also sent a letter to several law enforcement agencies, including all the above information, as well as a transcript of the conversations and texts (including the metadata). I don’t know what ultimately happened. But, I wasn’t about to let it go unreported. I later found out the scammer got my contact information from my state’s Unemployment Office’s jobs website.
I know this was a bit long-winded but maybe it will provide some useful information to would-be employment scam victims. I know when people are unemployed, they can get desperate. The scammers count on that.”
How Was It So Cheap?
“It was a post on my Facebook feed. They were selling an Airstream Bambi for $1,000 through eBay. I knew this item was around $45,000. I contacted them and said I was really interested. They responded with instructions to go to a store and buy five of the eBay gift cards. Once purchased, the instructions were to provide them with the card numbers. Anyone that has ever bought anything off eBay knows all transactions are done through eBay.
I sent another email saying I would do it right away. I asked for pictures and they sent a photo from a current brochure. I looked it up on the Airstream site to confirm it was a picture of the Bambi currently on the market. The price was just over $44,000.
I emailed them an enthusiastic email telling them I would get the cards the next day. They emailed the next day asking if I had purchased the eBay gift cards. I gave them a sob story and kept emailing back that I would get the cards in two more days. They emailed back. I strung them along for over a week.
In my final email, I told them they were stupid and just con men. They sent me their final email by calling me all kinds of profane names. I just laughed. I have done this to so many scammers. It’s just too much fun to resist.
If you have been scammed, do not lose hope. If you do that, you are encouraging these low life people to continue scamming people. Take a step now and recover your funds back from them, leave them miserable! Reach out to a legitimate company that does the recovery without charging a dime until you have all you lost back.”
He Thought He Could Intimate This 89-Year-Old Woman
“A common scam is to call people pretending to be from the utility company, threatening to shut off the power if a past-due balance isn’t paid (often by visa gift card) immediately. These scammers love to find elderly or tech-challenged people.
So this scammer must have been ‘delighted’ to reach my 89-year-old mother, who sounded easily intimidated and seemed hesitant and unsure. When she protested that she was sure she’d paid her bill, he insisted that info was out of date and he wanted several hundred dollars right now.
She stalled. He became more belligerent and angry. She asked for time, for proof. He thought he’d set the hook and it was time to reel it in.
‘If you don’t pay me right now, I’ll be there in 20 minutes to turn off your meter!’ he bellowed.
She dropped the sweet little old lady act, lowered her voice to a growl, and said, ‘I’m locked and loaded, son, and I’ll be aiming at your crotch! I’m a good shot and even if I miss, my dog is 80 pounds of muscle and teeth! One of us will get your manhood if you set foot on my property!’
She was still laughing when she called me 20 minutes later; all 4′8″ of her, half-blind and having never shot a weapon. She didn’t even own a dog, not even a cat. She knew it was a scam all along, she was stalling to waste his time.”
Grandpa Knew What To Do
“We got a scam call once when I was a teenager. My grandpa was over at the house. The guy went into this spiel about he was a debt collector, saying ‘You owe money. We’re going to garnish your pay, blah. blah.’
So grandpa, thinking on his feet said, ‘This is detective Carson. You’ve just called a murder scene. The person you are calling for is deceased and I need to know where you were between the hours of 12:00 noon and 4:00 PM. You are our primary suspect. We have traced this call and we know who and where you are. One of our officers will be there to question you soon. We have your fingerprints. There’s blood everywhere. I’m sure it’s even on your clothes.’
The guy shouted an expletive and hung up the phone. Leave it to grandpa to scam a scammer.”