Content edited for clarity. We've all been there. There's always a deal or offer that we know is too good to be true. Or we truly believe we just found the best opportunity in a lifetime! However, most of the time these offers were too good to be true and we get ripped off in some way. These people had some of the worst run-ins with scammers. There is a lot to learn from their mistakes. Always look out for red flags people!
“Right after my dad died, I got a call from a number I didn’t know. They left a voice mail saying they needed my social security number so they could pay out a life insurance policy to me. I was 21 and super inexperienced with stuff like this. So I did what any real adult would do. I asked my mom for advice.
She told me it was legit and to give them my social security number (SN). I had a weird feeling about it, but if my mom said it was okay then it must be okay. I did it. I called back and gave the guy that answered my SN number.
I never got a check, but my mom suddenly did from a policy my dad ‘forgot’ to take her off of, even though they had been divorced years before. She did give me 10k, but I’m 100% positive it was worth way more and she had something to do with it all. We don’t talk anymore for various reasons including this one.
She told me she had gotten money from a life insurance policy my dad had that still hadn’t her name on it. They had been divorced for like five years and she was remarried at this point. My aunt (dad’s sister) and my mom’s second husband (The guy she was married to when this happened) also think she did something fishy here. I don’t think I can do anything about it now.”
Something Smells Fishy
“In 2008, there was a member on most auto forums I was on who advertised a racing business. A few people had dealt with him and said he was great. I contacted him and asked him to get me pricing for some expensive parts. His pricing came back great, so I sent him payment and waited. Nothing. I called him and he gave me the runaround, claiming his supplier was going to drop-ship to me. Nothing. I kept contacting him over and over, and he eventually stopped answering my calls. One of the forums started a call-out thread for the guy since he ghosted a bunch of members after taking their orders. His website even went down.
I used the payment info to track the guy down and verified it with his public county tax records. Another forum member tracked him down on a home improvement forum where he was bragging about all of these expensive home updates he was doing.
Eventually, he sent me half of my order after I asked if any forum members lived near him. Several showed up at his doorstep and threatened to beat the snot out of him if he didn’t make good on his orders to everyone. I never got the rest, and he told me if my friends ever showed up again, he’d shoot them and then hunt me down too. I told him to try, he told me off and that was the last I ever heard of him.
He had a legitimate (or so it appeared) business, complete with a full website store and everything. It wasn’t just some random guy saying ‘give me your credit card info and I may ship you parts.’ There was nothing to suggest he was a scammer.”
“I was at the grocery store and some guy speaking broken English came up to me. He had a sob story about losing his job and having a baby with a special diet and needing to feed him. It felt odd right off the bat, but having just become a dad myself, I felt compassionate enough to begrudgingly agree to help him after he said he didn’t want money, he just needed someone to buy some formula.
I walked him to the self-checkout and he scanned all his stuff, the total was like 350 dollars. I looked at the total, looked at him, and he pulled the think-of-the-baby card. So I swiped my card. He tried to take the receipt at the end, but I said since it was my card, I’d keep it.
As I walked away to finish my shopping I noticed he was lingering. I took a lap around one of the aisles. He was still there but talking to the self-checkout supervisor. He had her do something at the checkout we used, and then he finally left.
I was just going to let it go but I had a gut feeling something seemed off so I went up to the supervisor and asked what the gentleman needed. She said he claimed his receipt didn’t print and needed a copy.
That’s when I figured it out. This scumbag was going to return it all and ask for it on a gift card. I was so annoyed I didn’t even finish shopping.”
Liar Liar, Pants On Fire
“I answered a classified ad for one of those ‘entry-level advertising/PR management jobs. Got an interview, which was pretty vague about what the job actually entailed, invited to the second interview, which was an all-day shadowing of a current employee. What they did all day was door-to-door coupon sales.
There were discount coupons for things like golf courses and oil changes – at least that’s what I sold. I probably should have turned and run after that, but the people I was shadowing swore up and down that, I’d only be in the field for the first two weeks, just so I could ‘understand what the salespeople do,’ and would work in the office after that. Based on that, I took the job (In my defense, this was in 1996 – there was no way I could check this company out)
I slogged it out in the field for two weeks (I hated it and was bad at it. It also didn’t help that they sent me to some really sketchy neighborhoods!).
The third week rolled around and nobody had said anything about when I’d start working in the office, so I asked one of the team leaders about it. He gave me this odd look and told me that everyone works in the field- the only person who got to work in the office and didn’t have to go into the field was the owner. That’s the only job I’ve ever walked out on.”
“Can You Believe It?”
“I worked at a Fortune 100 company, and they organized a little health fair for us in November when it was time to choose our new insurance. All the insurance companies had tables, and a couple of other random vendors, like the local gym, etc.
A dentist’s office that was just a few blocks from our office was there. One of my coworkers said, ‘Hey, that dentist is really close by and takes our insurance. I made an appointment.’
One by one, my whole team makes appointments to go see this dentist.
When I made my appointment, I went over to the people working the table and said, ‘Hey, can I make an appointment?’
The girl said, ‘Sure, when do you want to come in?’
I said, ‘Um, Tuesday?’
And without looking at any calendar, computer, phone anything, she just replied, ‘Tuesday is great! What time?’
I said, ‘Um, three o’clock?’
And again without looking at anything she says, ‘Great, see you then’
As I’m walking away, I’m thinking she didn’t write that down and didn’t even ask me my name. I asked a couple of my coworkers and they all just shrug and said they must have lots of open appointments because it was the same for them.
So we all started going to this dentist. And a couple of weeks later we start comparing notes. Turns out every single one of us was told (for the first time in our lives) that we are grinding our teeth in our sleep and need sleep guards. We all also miraculously needed two crowns (the maximum number of annual crowns covered by our insurance), even though we were all surprised to get that news.
Basically, this dentist was a total scam who just knew exactly what to max out on our insurance for the maximum paycheck and we all got a bunch of dental work we didn’t need at all. On top of that, he was rude and obnoxious and got angry at me for wanting to be numbed to have my crowns installed (it hurt so bad!), and the crowns I didn’t need are total garbage and one has already cracked.”
The Run Around
“I went to look at a used car at a dealership about five years ago. At the time, I didn’t have a running vehicle and was looking for something reliable from a decent dealership. So, the guy actually picked me up for about a 45 minute drive to the dealership, pretty solid customer service I thought.
Haggling ensued as I was broker than a joker at the time, we eventually settled on a payment plan.
The scumbag salesman proceeds to present me the paperwork that included ‘service fees.’ Basically, any discount I was able to get out of them was forfeited due to the fact the guy picked me up and drive me to the dealership. I’m talking MAX $10 bucks of fuel at the most.
Frick this, were my first thoughts. I told the guy politely I was no longer interested, for obvious reasons. Immediately, the whole experience changed.
‘What a waste of my entire morning,’ He said, ‘I picked you up so you could actually find a way home.’
The 45 minute drive turned into a two-hour walk to what transit was available, finally got home three and a half hours later.
If I ever get to a low point that I can’t recover from, I will definitely be lighting every single one of their vehicles on fire and taking a runny poo on their front door.”
He Was Long Gone
“My dad and I went into Walmart to buy some groceries. We came out and loaded them into the truck, and the truck wouldn’t start. Never had problems with the truck before this. My dad was getting frustrated as we had chilled food with us and it was summer. Suddenly, a homeless man on a bike rolled up and asked what the problem was. My dad explained he has no idea his truck just won’t start. So, the guy asked to take a look.
The guy got under the truck and in 10 seconds came back out. He told my dad he found the problem, a small part was missing on his truck (my dad and I are dumb when it comes to cars so I can’t remember what part he said. Also, I was 10). The man said he just so happened to have the same part in his bag of nicknacks. Said if my dad gave him $50, he’d put it on for him. My dad, excited, agreed. The man went under the truck, another 10 seconds popped back up, said give it a try. The truck started, no problem. My dad thanked the man so much and then gave him another $40 for his trouble.
It was only on the ride home that I brought it up to my dad, ‘You’re telling me none of that seemed off? A random homeless man rides up just in time with just the right part we need?’
It finally hit my dad and he turned around to find the guy, but he was long gone.”
“I remember when a dude came up to my husband and me, telling us how his mother had just died. He just got the news today and found out he was $20 short for a ticket to get home for her funeral. We handed over $20, told him sorry for his loss, best of luck, and we continued with our day. A week later, the same guy came up to us at the exact same store. He said the same story of having just got the news this morning that his mother died and he was $20 short for a ticket home.
I told him, ‘Sorry I don’t have any cash but let me see what I can do when I finish in the shop I’m going to.’
We got in the shop and my husband was like, ‘You know that is the same dude from last week and he’s scamming you.’
I told him, ‘I’m aware and I don’t plan on giving the guy any more cash.’
So we headed back to our car, there was the dude, he wanted to know if we have $20. I told him no, I told him that he didn’t need to worry about a ticket, to save his money because we were headed to that town and we would be happy to give him a ride. I said that at a time like this he had enough to worry about, and bus schedules and a ticket there and back should not be one of his worries right now.
Naturally, the dude declined the ride, said he didn’t want to be any trouble, we kept insisting that it would be no trouble at all. The dude kept declining, saying he didn’t want to have us go out of our way. So after some back and forth we came up with plan B. We told the dude we would give him a ride to the bus stop and buy his ticket for him, again the dude declined, we again insisted, he declined. Eventually he just kinda gave up on our overly helpful butts and thanked us for trying to help before wandering off to who knows where.”
“I Thought There Were Six Of You”
“This happened back in February 2020. I was in Paris with my mom and sister, and we were on our way to Disneyland Paris. There is a train that takes you right from Paris to the park, so we went to the train station and were about to walk up to one of those electronic ticket machines. A random lady came over to us and asked where we are from. We said the US, so she offered to help us buy the tickets, we said ok, sure, why not. So we went over to buy the tickets with this lady and she did a bunch of random stuff and told us an insanely high price. We were, like no that’s not accurate.
So she said, ‘Sorry, I thought there were six of you.’
That definitely should have been the first red flag. So she redid it, told us a lower price, and we were about to put our card into the machine to pay and she said, ‘No card, cash only.’ Since we were not from there, we had very minimal cash on us so we pulled together what we had but it wasn’t enough.
The lady said she would cover the rest for us as long as we promised to come find her another time and pay her back. So we gave her the money, and she gave us three tickets and we go on our way. We got on the train no problem, but once we got to the park we had to scan the tickets. We went to scan the tickets, but nothing happened. We looked at the tickets and noticed that part of them was blacked out with a marker. We had fake tickets. But apparently, this had happened to a lot of people so we and about 10 other people are brought to a man who told us we had to pay a fee to get into the park. I somehow managed to sneak past him and get into the park but my mom and sister both had to pay over 50 euros each as a fine. Now that we look back at it we have no clue why we fell for that, it was very obviously a scam.”
Bad Spy Part One
“So, I was about 29 years old and I went to a job interview for a talent scout position. The interview was in San Jose, CA (I was living in San Francisco at the time and had had a lot of experience in the television industry). After only about halfway through the interview, the woman executive said she was extremely impressed with me and said she thought I was overqualified for that position, but that they were losing their manager at their San Francisco headquarters and she thought I would be ideal as his replacement. I was flattered and excited to hear this, even though I did not know the details about the job yet. I assumed I would learn them soon enough and thanked her, assuming I would be brought in for training on Monday the following week. (It was a Friday). What I didn’t know is that they wanted me to start THAT DAY.
I already lived in San Francisco, and we were currently in San Jose for the interview, so I was especially stoked the job was located in SF. She gave me the address of where to go and said I would meet up with the current head office guy and he would take it from there, show me the ropes, etc. The office was in a beautiful high-rise building right downtown in Union Square where a lot of the major shopping and businesses are – Macy’s, Nordstrom’s, St. Francis Hotel, etc. My apartment was literally one block up the hill. I was so stoked. I went right into the office, met the tall, handsome manager who was very friendly and welcoming and seemed excited to meet me. The next thing I knew, he was telling me to expect a flock of people to be coming in for an all-day interview process for one of several talent scout openings they had. He said after they selected the few who would go on, I would be their manager on the day-to-day. He explained after a short walk-through and paperwork, the group would split up into pairs and then be going from the offices out into the various businesses and various high-end department stores around Union Square to ‘scout’ for talent. He said I was to shadow along with them and take mental notes about the candidates. I thought that sounded like a great idea for me to get the feel of the process.
Then, just a minute or so before everyone started showing up (and it came to over fifty people!) – he told me, ‘Oh, and by the way, I am not going to tell anyone who you are. You are going to pretend that you are just another person applying for the talent scout position. You are NOT to tell anyone that you already work for us, but you will move among them and watch them closely, how they act, what they say, who is motivated who isn’t, and report back to me.’
I was in shock, but I had no time to even react before throngs of people poured in. I was told to just sit among the folding chairs they had set up and listen to the same orientation. I could draft a novel about all the whack things that happened that day. Suffice it to say, we were out in the ‘community’ for four or five hours before returning to the headquarters for final results and selections. But – I was still in ‘stealth’ mode and extremely uncomfortable about it indeed. I had spoken to and ‘worked’ alongside some pretty great people that day, and some of them had confided in me about their real thoughts and feelings about what they were asked to do and say. I felt awful, like some kind of bad spy the whole time. But at least he would make his selections, everyone would leave, and no one would be the wiser. So, I thought. Nope. Instead, as we all sat and were settling down from our ‘adventures’ he got up at the front and started asking people for their feedback, etc.
Then he just blatantly said, ‘One thing I DIDN’T let you all in on – a little secret – is that one of you – a person whom you were with all day today, isn’t going to be a talent scout at all.’
(He was saying all this with a happy smirk on his face as everyone is kind of looking around the room confused).
He went on to say that this ‘someone’ in fact was an undercover agent of sorts, watching their every move and reporting back to him. so if they thought they were getting away with not working as hard or bad-mouthing them, he knew all about it (But that was not true, I had not told him one thing). So of course, everyone’s once happy faces dropped, and then he just lowered the boom as my heart is in my stomach.
And he says, ‘That someone is (and he says my name).’
He introduced me as the Head of the San Francisco office as if I had been working there for years and was totally in on the whole thing that day and pointed to me and asked me to stand up, telling everyone to go ahead and give me a big round of applause. I don’t think I have ever been more embarrassed in my life. I had to stand up and smile at these people who were understandably angry at me and felt totally betrayed, clapping with complete horror and disgust on their faces, yet still hoping I ‘put in a good word for them.’
Yikes. I wish it ended there. It did not.”
Bad Spy Part Two
“After everyone left, another employee came in and they all invited me to celebrate my hire by going to dinner with them at Ruth Chris’ Steakhouse. I agreed but was still feeling kind of slimy about everything. They were all jacked up and immediately started ordering drink after drink and kept making sure I was having my fair share. Over an hour went by and we hadn’t even ordered dinner yet. I was having fun, but these people were partying their butts off and being totally unprofessional. I will spare you the gory details but suffice it to say the night ended with me having to literally jump out of the limo on Van Ness Avenue because I was being physically and intimately attacked by that same head manager guy. The next morning, I called in to quit and the woman who I had met was NOT pleased at all. She just could not understand why I would abandon them and her whole friendly demeanor turned extremely ugly. I had not wanted to rat the guy out for what he had done to me that night, but she was so mean and kept accusing me of breach of contract, etc.
I finally just said, ‘Look, John and the others took me out, they got wasted and he attacked me. I had to physically jump out of a moving vehicle to get away from him. If you do not understand why I don’t want to work for you after that and their shady practices you are well aware of, I don’t know what to tell you, and I don’t care.’
And hung up. She kept calling me for hours afterward and leaving pleading messages, but I knew by then that it was more to do with saving her butt than anything to do with me. She threatened me, then tried to bribe me, etc. but not once did she apologize or offer to get rid of that John guy for any reason. I found out not long afterward that their company, which had an unrelated name, was one of a string of scam talent agencies that were owned and founded by Lou Pearlman, the man who created the Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync, who would later die behind bars in South Florida in 2016 while serving a 25-year sentence for organizing a $300 million Ponzi scheme.”