Ever been scammed? You’re not alone. These people share how they got scammed and a valuable lesson they learned from the experience. Content has been edited for clarity purposes.
“I Had 186k Wired To My Bank Account”
“I was contacted through an online networking site, asking if I could be a ‘regional representative’ for a Hong Kong company. I would be paid quite handsomely for doing almost nothing. I responded to the message and was sent an extensive form to fill out. Mostly the form was about signing that I understood the money I would be sent was not mine to keep and what my commission percentage would be. I was not asked for my Social Security Number or my passport so I went ahead and filled it out and emailed it back. I was asked for a bank account number so I emptied an account down to about $15 and used that.
I got an email back that I had been vetted and was accepted for the job. I started getting emails from a person who claimed to be an executive with the Hong Kong company. I looked up the name and the executive did indeed exist but the phone number for my contact did not ring through to the real man’s office. I tried calling the company but could not get through to the actual executive.
I got several emails claiming that ‘clients’ would be wiring large amounts of money to my account. I was to retain a commission percentage and then wire the balance to Hong Kong. I did not think anything would come of it and I thought it was funny to play along. The contact started calling me almost daily on my Google Voice number. The calls appeared to be coming from Japan. He had a thick accent but it did not sound fake. He would tell me all about the ‘clients’ and how they would be wiring me money any day now. I got a kick out of trying to sound earnest.
A few weeks went by and none of the promised wires appeared. I set my bank account to alert me with a text if a wire was received. I expected there would never be a wire and at some point, my contact, who was getting chummier by the day, would ask me for money or the $15 would disappear from my account. And then one day I got a text.
I logged in to my bank account and I had over $186,000, wired from a bank in Tennessee. This kind of freaked me out! I thought it might be somehow fake and in a couple of days, my account would be empty (including the $15 I’d left).
A couple of days passed and the wire cleared. The money was really there!
I decided I couldn’t do anything but go ahead and wire it back out where I was told! So when the funds were fully available, I did. I kept $12,000 as ‘commission.’ I got several calls from my contact telling me what a great job I’d done. I thought about how I did not want to know where the money had actually come from. I sat on the cash in my account for a while and waited to see what would happen. And nothing happened. I started spending some of the money to pay bills.
Then a FedEx from Canada turned up in my mail. It contained a check for $38,000 from a company in Iowa. I looked up the company and it was real. I know this was really, REALLY stupid but I opened a new bank account and deposited the check to see if it would clear. The following week, the check not only bounced but I was also told it was a forgery! That bank did not pursue the matter any further and I just let it go. I still had a few bucks in the account. I told my contact that the check was no good and he acted like he was all shocked.
A few weeks went by and I got a letter from the first bank telling me that my account had possibly been used for a fraudulent wire transaction and that it might be closed, pending an investigation. By that time I had spent nearly $9000 of my ill-gotten gains. Foolishly, I did not think it was a big deal (I know, don’t judge me!). I went to my bank and they put me on the phone with a fraud investigator. I answered all his questions and my account was closed. I was not asked about the money I’d spent and I was not given the remaining balance.
I sent my contact an email that the bank was going to recall the wire. I have not heard back from my ’employer’ since. Obviously, I won’t be playing around with scammers ever again.”
She No Longer Had That Sad Girlish Voice
“This stranger was badly bruised and fighting back tears when she approached me one chilly January night in Philadelphia.
‘Miss, excuse me, miss — do you know the best way to get to Doylestown from here?’ Her voice was childlike, trembling, though her face — half-hidden behind a curtain of limp brown hair — suggested a woman in her late 20s. My age.
I didn’t know but, sensing her distress, I offered to look it up. While I pulled out my phone — keeping a firm grip on it, because I’m naturally suspicious — she explained that she was trying to get to a women’s shelter. She gave me the name of the place; it checked out. She gave me the phone number; it too proved legitimate. She even showed me her ID, though I certainly never asked for it.
I did ask a lot of questions. She sobbed as she described the abusive relationship she’d just escaped, one that had been going on for almost a decade, since her teens. She showed me bruises on her arms and belly. She was 4 months pregnant, she said in that plaintive young voice, and her rounded physique gave me no reason to doubt her. Her mother had just died. My father had just died.
In the meantime, we determined that the train to Doylestown, then a taxi to the shelter, was the best route. She insinuated that she wouldn’t have enough cash for the taxi but there was never an explicit request for money. I wanted to help but still wasn’t 100% sure she was being honest, so I decided to walk her to 30th St. Station, a mile away, as almost a way to call her bluff.
Her pace dragged a bit, I noticed, but she said her feet and back ached. When we got to the station, I bought her a train ticket and a sandwich. It was the way she devoured the food, with near desperation, that softened me. I took $50 out of the ATM — an amount that was significant to me, a grad student buried in school debt — and gave it to her for taxi fare and dinner.
It very nearly ended there. It could have been a feel-good story.
But then she wanted my name and phone number so she could text me when she got to the shelter. A little alarm bell sounded in my head. She was so insistent. Eventually, I offered a throwaway e-mail address that doesn’t have my name in it — and in a moment of frustration, her voice changed from the sad girlish voice she’d been using to one of a mature and frustrated woman. I heard it. There was no denying it. The mask had slipped. I still don’t understand why.
I’d already given her money by then, but I offered to sit with her until the train came in 10 minutes.
‘Actually, I’m going to pee before the train gets here,’ she said, rising, and gave me a hug. ‘Thank you for everything.’
Then she disappeared into the restroom.
So I waited. Five minutes. Ten minutes. The train came. The train left. Ten minutes after its departure, she came out of the bathroom and looked around furtively. She didn’t see me; I had blended into the shadows. I may be gullible, but I have got some solid ninja skills!
Her posture changed — like Kevin Spacey’s character losing his limp as he leaves the police station in ‘The Usual Suspects‘ — and she strode purposefully out the station doors, flagged down a taxi, and drove off into the cold night.
Gone: with a little too much of my money and a little (but too much) of my innocence.
I felt foolish, even bitter, for a little while. Scams that exploit kindness, rather than greed, really upset me. Forget that. Don’t we already guard our hearts too fiercely? We need no more reasons to mistrust.
But ultimately I made peace with it. I didn’t want to risk that she was telling the truth and leave her out in the cold. She clearly had real problems. I still don’t doubt that. I believe most of her story, actually — and I’m not the only one.
There’s an online message board with ~50 accounts from residents scammed by this same woman over the last few years. The latest is from a few months ago.
The crazy thing is, she showed me her ID, remember? She gave me her name and e-mail address and phone number. They’re real. I’ve seen her Facebook profile. The police know about her. This is not a sophisticated operator.
And yet she’s still out there. And so are we, fools that we are, still doing the wrong right thing, still trying to help.
Like throwing ice cubes into a volcano – as if our street-corner aid can heal whatever she’s in.”
Sketchy Car Dealership
“Back in 1990, I bought a used Jeep Cherokee at a car lot in Santa Ana, California. The jeep appeared to be in excellent all-around condition so I signed the papers. Within five days after purchase, everything began falling apart on the car.
I found many cheap, quick fixes the dealership had done to this car to make it presentable that would not have made it last over two weeks. Broken door locks, a 4-inch body crack covered by an inch wide, plastic pin striping tape, and loose parts which I didn’t mind fixing myself, but when the car began to smoke, I figured they must have used an additive as a quick, temporary ‘fix.’ Baling wire was holding the muffler and other parts in place and the last straw was the tranny getting hard to put into drive.
Upon closer inspection, it was obvious it had far more miles on it than he claimed. I admit I bought the car without really checking it out well. I knew better but needed a car that day so I had a friend drop me off there to buy something. When I called the dealership about all these issues, the sales guy made a very bad mistake.
He actually laughed at me and mocked me for not inspecting the car well enough before I bought it. I told him I would be right down there and I had stopped payment of the check which luckily had not gone through yet. Only the $100.00 check I wrote them had been cashed. He tried to tell me my credit would be ruined if I dropped the car off and canceled the deal. He accused me of buyer’s remorse. I wholeheartedly agreed because the car was a nightmare.
I had a friend follow me to the dealership, I met the sales guy I dealt with and dropped the keys on the ground at his feet when he refused to take them by hand. I told him I was going to file a complaint against the dealership I never heard from them again and my credit was not affected. All I lost was $100.00 and my time. I figure that was fair because I used the car to get to work during the few days I owned it.”
“My husband, along with his mother, scammed me and my family. I say ‘husband’ because I’m still in the process of getting divorced from him.
It was an arranged marriage. Mutual friends of mutual friends verified his background story. I resigned from my job and moved to the country where he was staying. The plan was to look for a job there as soon as I’d want to. I was promised my expenses would be taken care of nevertheless.
For the wedding preparations, he was trusted with a collective amount which included the venue payment along with other general expenses. He didn’t deposit the amount at the venue, despite being given repeated reminders from my side.
Two days before the event, he messaged to say he wouldn’t be able to because his checkbook had finished. Since it was the weekend, he wouldn’t be able to get a new one.
This was not taken well by my side of the family. We were beyond furious. Giving him benefit of the doubt, I went ahead with this marriage.
It was all downhill from there:
His mother asked for more money to pay for the next wedding event. I said no. My family said no.
Three days into the marriage, he and his mother tried to convince me to put all of my personal savings in a joint account with him. I said no. There was a lot of cajoling-bullying involved. I stuck to my gut.
I then came across a list on a paper once, it had a number of people in it with six-figure amounts next to them. He claimed they were previous investors. He managed to get a number of high-profile investors to give money promising unrealistic returns.
His mother then sat me down to say he had lost one of his two businesses. Never really giving a reason why. The second business was real estate. He couldn’t get one deal through for a year and a half.
Jewelry gifted to me by my parents was stolen by these two. He said he put it in his locker for me. When I asked for it back, he and his Mom turned ugly. I persisted but every time I was shot down with a logic-defying excuse and a string of words meant to demean me. And it worked, I kept quiet. When I finally managed to get somewhat of a real answer, I was completely broken.
But my brokenness didn’t just come from these five incidents. They expected money every month, for car rental, house rental, for paying off internet, and electricity bills, and for paying off creditors that threatened to put them in jail. A ‘no’ was never taken kindly. Always with a lot of emotional abuse.
When the threat of jail came from one of the investors. I was turned to for money. I couldn’t come through for a number of reasons. They were merciless in their bullying. I ended up lying on the floor for two days, too petrified to do anything. I had a complete breakdown. I came through with a lot of emotional support from my siblings and parents.
I had them move to my parent’s house for about a month and a half because they got evicted for not paying house rent for two years. His mother once bullied me to the point where I said I would take my life. That didn’t stop her. And I was appropriately horrified at my own response and started looking for therapists.
A couple of months later, he was arrested. I traveled back to the country where I was working. I underwent therapy. Meanwhile, his mother got arrested as well.
She was released a month ago. I don’t know when he will be released.
But I do know that I won’t go back there again.”
Selling A Phone Can Be So Hard
“So, I was looking to buy the Google Pixel phone a few months after it came out. I was looking on boot sale apps etc. and saw a good deal on Shpock (too good), so suspiciously I asked all the usual questions. Multiple times they asked to speak on the phone, but I refused.
I asked if I could pay by PayPal. They said yes. Good, I had protection. I even phoned PayPal to check that if I transfer money listed as goods or services would they refund me if the product doesn’t arrive. They said yes.
So I asked the seller to email me an invoice. They say it’s easier to just send it to them myself listed as goods or services. I had protection from PayPal so ‘why not?’ I thought.
So I took multiple screenshots of the conversation and sent the money.
After sending the money, I waited a day or so and knew something was up, so I contacted Shpock who told me to cancel the transfer.
So I opened a case with PayPal for a refund. A day later, I got a response from PayPal telling me the seller says I collected the phone and he had me on CCTV on his car dash cam. I then got an email threatening me with the police for stealing the phone and not releasing the money. They had my email address from the PayPal transaction.
I calmly explained to the person that I had arranged for delivery only, as I lived over three hours away from them. I told them that they must have been scammed by the same person, acting like a middleman.
This took a lot of patience. The person who had the phone stolen refused to believe my story, even after sending the evidence of my purchase to them.
PayPal finally returned my money as I had documented the entire purchase.
Whereas, the seller had spoken to the person on the phone, and I could only assume that they had to rely on the police to catch the thief. I felt sorry for them.
As far as I can tell the scam worked like this: The scammer lists expensive phones online for cheap prices. When they are contacted by a buyer, scammer quickly contacts someone selling the same phone for the usual price. The scammer tells the seller that he wants to buy the phone, but has to pay some through PayPal and some by cash as they don’t have enough in the bank. Scammer gives the legitimate buyer the PayPal details of the legitimate seller. Once the PayPal transaction goes through, the scammer collects the phone, paying the remainder in cash.
The scammer then leaves the legitimate buyer and seller to fight over the PayPal money whilst they get a phone for a fraction of its cost.
Moral of the story: Never collect/allow someone to collect something paid for using PayPal.
Always keep any distance from selling transactions in writing. Never talk on the phone.”
Video Cam Girl
“I was young, stupid, bored, and with a fast Internet connection to boot. One page led to another and I ended up on Chatroulette.
Next, I kept on clicking until I came upon this scantily-clad chick looking as bored. I chatted her up, and she responded. We chatted for some time and she asked me if I had Skype. Knowing the possibility of where this would lead to, I readily supplied. I had never sexted before and I felt the rush. Once on Skype, one thing led to another and we were both in our birthday suits and doing all sorts.
Suddenly, her stream disappeared and I started watching a replay of me taking off my clothes and making naughty faces on my screen. It turns out that I was messaging with a prerecorded cam video of the girl and a man was sitting on the other end… sick.
He had recorded all my antics and told me he has gotten access to all my social media contacts and he would post the video to them unless I paid him some ridiculous amount. He sent through a long list of my friends and even identified my family members.
I begged him to show mercy, ‘I swear I’ll never do it again. It was my first time. I’m only a student and have no money even —’
All fell on deaf ears and he was stern with his request. Then I haggled on the price and after some time, I ended up wiring my entire life savings through Western Union to one ‘Yassine Barrane’, who lives in Morocco.
Not my proudest moment, but I learned a lesson about online security. And I never sexted again.
Welcome To Bangalore, India
“In Bangalore, India, there was this group of people who hung out together. Any other spectator would perceive them to be a family. There was this aged woman, this young guy, his wife, her brother, and his teenage son, with a small baby at the wife’s ‘caressing disposal’.
I was new to Bangalore then. I came across this ‘family’, somewhere near a bus stop on the road. It was around 10 pm then.
Young Guy (walked up to me): ‘Sir, please help us.‘
Me (took out earphones): ‘Yeah?’
Young Guy (a hint of a tear in his eyes): ‘Sir, we are in a dire need of money.‘
Me: ‘Huh. Why?‘
Young Guy: ‘We came from Nagpur in search of some work. Our landlord has run off with our money. We have been running around for an hour aimlessly looking around for help. My mother and our baby haven’t been fed since morning.‘
Me: ‘I can contact the police for you if that helps.’
Young guy: ‘Sir, I just need to reach Yeshwantpura (the other side of the city) and I hope if you can lend me some money for the same.‘
Me (shrugged): ‘Umm, I am an intern. I just came here too. I don’t have much money dude. I need it for the bus.‘
The young guy’s mother (joined in): ‘Sir, please help us.‘
Me: ‘Fine. Here are 200 bucks. I hope that sorts you out.‘
The young guy quickly pocketed the cash.
Young guy’s wife (joined in): ‘Sir, this will suffice just enough for the bus journey. Please give us something to eat.‘
Me (smiled, proud that I was helping a fellow in need): ‘Fine here is another 300.‘
Young guy (with persistence): ‘Sir, this won’t be enough sir. I can see you have more money in your wallet. Sir, please help us.‘
Me: ‘See, I just had around a thousand bucks with me now. But I need some for myself too.‘
The whole ‘family’ was surrounding me now.
Young guy: ‘There is an ATM over there sir.‘
Me (suspiciously): ‘If I was you, I would be thanking a person who just helped her out and not be so persistent. I suspect you guys are scamming. Can I have my money back, please?‘
Young guy: ‘I’m afraid that’s not going to happen, sir.‘
He smiled. And then they walked away.
This experience left me disgusted. I didn’t repent of the loss of money. They knew that I was someone from North India, someone whose first language must be Hindi. And the way I was fidgeting around, they may have guessed I was new to the city. Their clever ruse worked so well because they knew that I would relate. Now for someone to cash upon a person’s emotions. That is pure evil.
My friends (natives of Bangalore) later laughed at my naivety and told me that this scam was common in Bangalore.”
“I found an advertisement while scrolling through my social media feed.
It said, ‘Buy premium covers for 130 rupees.’
So just out of curiosity, I opened that link and found the only cover I wanted for so long. So I ordered it immediately without giving a thought to it. They only accepted prepaid orders so I paid with my debit card.
The website said, ‘It may take seven days to dispatch’ but I ignored this.
Seven days later, I got no updates regarding it so I checked the status. It said,‘Processing… and Undelivered.’
10 days later, I so got restless and sent a mail regarding my order status. No reply came from the other side.
15 days later, I still got no reply. So I opened the website and it said ‘404 ERROR. THIS SITE CAN’T BE REACHED.’
And this is how I got scammed for the first time in my life and lost Rs.130.”
House Deal Gone Wrong
“Recently my husband James and I decided to sell our old house. Since we knew very little about selling houses, we decided to hire a realtor to help sell. The house was put on the market and sold.
Just several days ago once the deal was officially supposed to close, my attorney started to call me like crazy. I picked up, and he was essentially screaming at me not to sign a paper and not to even show up to the closing meeting we had arranged.
Turns out, the realtor I decided to hire had his license taken away, and had provided my husband and me with false information about our home. We had the home and property assessed, and we got the amount it was worth. My realtor tried to get us the highest price possible, and that’s where the bear fraud incident occurred. The new buyers were planning on paying cash. No loans. Obviously, that’s good for me and my husband, so the realtor negotiated a price. The buyers (super nice people by the way) agreed to pay x amount of money. It was high, and our realtor told us an amount. Only probably was the amount of $52,000 less than what the buyers agreed on.
If we had proceeded, the buyers would have paid their amount, and we’d received our amount, it would just be $52,000 short before fees to our realtor and attorney.
Well, the deal fell through. I am very thankful my attorney caught the huge error, and when I got the call I was just leaving to go sign and close. That house I put a ton of money into. I’m not talking 10 thousand, I’m talking upwards of 700 thousand dollars. I want every penny that house is worth if not more. And most importantly I want a good realtor! I think this is just a sign we should hold onto it for a little while longer.”
“I Was Scammed By An Airline Company”
“I was scammed by an airline company. It was WizzAir.
They sold a return ticket to me for 66 euros. Low-cost flight, no meal, small chair, all that.
And it has to be an online check-in sometime before the flight to be all okay. But it wasn’t possible. The site did not work. I started to look for online check-in several days before the flight and it wasn’t available. I tried more thoroughly until almost the last day, around 24–36 hours before the flight.
Because I couldn’t find the right link on the website to work (the ‘online check-in’ link was keep sending me to a stupid ‘help’ page), I tried installing their app on the phone. I had gone through all that stuff (registration, etc), and just at the end, the last push-button in the app which had to do the ‘check-in’ did not work.
No way. I tried several times. Nope.
I emailed them. No answer. The phone number had a busy tone.
The next day, I was at the airport.
The person from the check-in desk: ‘Sir, you have to pay Euro 35 for airport checkin’
Me: ‘What? Why?’
Employee: ‘Sir, the online check-in is free but the airport one is not.’
Me: ‘I paid for the trip, and I tried to do online check-in but it was not available. Neither through the website nor in the airline’s Android app.
Long story short, I could not sustain the issue too long, because there was very little time remaining until the flight. They made me pay the overprice, to not lose the flight.
I consider this as malpractice; is very unfair.”