There is truly no one worse than scammers. Attempting to use elaborate schemes to separate people from their hard-earned money is just wrong on so many levels. Thankfully for us, these people saw right through the schemes and made sure scammers got what they deserved!
All content has been edited for clarity.
Not The Best Business Model
“This goes back years when people still sold encyclopedia sets.
The wife and I were kicking around the local state fair when I see a drawing setup. First prize: a set of encyclopedia. Well, why not. I didn’t really need one, but I do like learning materials, so I dropped a slip with my name on it into the hopper. And forgot about it.
Months later, I get this call from a very nice-sounding young lady telling me that ‘no, sorry, you didn’t win the encyclopedia but you did win a handsome set of steak knives.’
‘Oh, well, at least that’s something. And they’re mine?’
‘Yep. You won them, they’re yours.’
Then came the hook, ‘Oh, and, sir, we’d like to have one of our representatives come by to deliver the knives you’ve won, and talk to you about our encyclopedias. They’ll only take an hour or two of your time. Okay?’
‘Oh, well, there’s just one problem. I’m self-employed, you see, and charge by the hour. So if your man wants to talk with me for an hour or two, I’d expect him to reimburse me for the time spent. I charge $120 an hour. Okay?’
There was a long pause. ‘You want us to pay you for your time?’
‘That is how I make my living. Only seems reasonable.’
‘So you don’t want the steak knives.’
‘Oh, I do. (Really didn’t, but this was starting to shape up nicely.) I mean, they’re mine, right? You said I won them.’
And we were off. She couldn’t deny me the steak knives, because she’d clearly said they were already mine. And I knew she wasn’t going to tell her ‘representative’ that he’d have to hand over $240 for the privilege of trying to sell me on a set of encyclopedias. We went around and around and around.
Finally, she gave an exasperated sigh and said, ‘Look, mister, do you want the knives or not?’
‘No, not really.’
‘Fine,’ She started to hang up.
‘Oh, miss — ‘ I stopped her.
The coup de grace. ‘We’ve been on the phone now for 45 minutes. You owe me $90 for my time, plus tax. Will that be check or credit card?’
Best drawing I ever entered.”
You Played Yourself
“About 6 months ago, I had just left a Dollar Store and drove a quarter mile to an auto parts store not realizing immediately that I had lost my wallet. I had a ‘tile’ locator in the wallet and my phone showed it as still in the dollar store. I was back at the store in way less than ten minutes from the time I had left.
As I walked in, the signal strength bars increased as I went straight to the cashier who had rang me up and asked her if she had seen my wallet or if anyone had turned it in.
‘Nope,’ she stated as I hit the find button to activate a locate sound that began emitting from the pocket of the apron on the same lady who had told me that she hadn’t seen my wallet.
I said, ‘Well that’s my wallet making that sound in your pocket.’
Every one of the 8 or 9 people in her line gasped and said to one another, ‘That lady tried to steal that guy’s wallet!'”
They Handled This Perfectly
“When I was unemployed, I was an intended victim of a somewhat more sophisticated than normal scam.
I get 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 contacts me and offers the job. Now, here is where it gets weird.
They will send me a certified check to use to help establish my remote home office. The check will arrive Friday, ‘but don’t deposit or cash it until I call them first.’
Right. So they don’t know me but for a phone interview and they are going to send me a $4,000 certified check that I must call them about before using it.
I decide to play along for the time being.
Certified check from a major US bank arrives Friday via FedEx. I call the person and let them know I got the check.
‘Wait until after 2:00 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 6 $100 cards. Then, call me back when you have done so.’
Okay, at this point I would have to be an idiot not to realize something fishy is going on.
Nonetheless, I ask 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.’
Right. They are sending me money, some of which I have to send back, so that they can 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 go into the bank and tell 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 4 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 an 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 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 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.”
That’s Just Awful Luck
“When I was with my ex (big Scottish guy from Glasgow), we were sitting outside a pub drinking, it was just a normal night and we were going to finish up and go home.
This guy walked by with a collection tin, dressed in a kilt, and starts rattling it saying he’s collecting for some castle up in the Highlands. Ex boyfriend stood up, he towered over the other guy, looks him up and down and says, ‘Tell my missus all about it, I need the loo.’
He went in to the pub and left me listening to this spiel about the castle needing renovation etc. I got a text saying ‘keep him talking.’
My ex came back and we carry on chatting about this crumbling castle until the police arrived and start questioning the guy.
Turns out, the kilt he was wearing was 5 different clan tartans, and one clan annihilated most of the other ones. So there would be no way that the tartans would be anywhere near each other. My ex knew because he was from the clan that got attacked! Plus the castle the guy was collecting for was apparently on Loch Gara, which you guys with top geography will recognize as being in Southern Ireland.
The guy was arrested.”
He Doesn’t Sound Like The Brightest
“As a gullible 30 year-old, I met a really cute man that seemed to like me. We started dating. His car broke down and he asked to borrow $80. I loaned it to him and he returned it. About 6 weeks later, his Mom had an emergency and he needed $400 and asked to borrow it until the next payday. I loaned it to him. Then I found out he had a live-in girlfriend and child.
She came to my work and tried to beat me up for trying to steal her boyfriend. I broke up with him but I tried to get my money back. That wasn’t happening. He kept trying to get back with me, but I found a note that he had written about how much money I had in my checking account. He didn’t realize it had fallen out of wherever he put it. So I decided to beat him at his own game.
I asked him to meet me for lunch at a restaurant. I had stashed a dear friend of mine at another table within ear shot and vision of what I was doing. I had handwritten a small ‘loan agreement with interest’ that I told him I needed him to sign for me to rebuild trusting him. The sucker signed it thinking it wasn’t valid. My friend witnessed it and signed as a witness. I then took him to Small Claims Court, asked for damages and Court costs, garnished his wages, and got my money back over time, including interest.”
He Tried The Wrong Person
“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 information 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. Doesn’t own a dog, not even a cat. She knew it was a scam all along, she was stalling to waste his time.”
Maybe Their Car Did The Impossible?
“I was at a greyhound layover in Arizona when a guy comes up to the group of us outside. He tells us his story of how he and his family were on the road when his battery died and left them on the side of the road. He just needed $30 more to get the battery from the auto-parts store.
Our bus was not scheduled to arrive for another few hours. So I offered to help.
‘Oh no no no, I got it, i just need $30 for the parts store down the road.’
So I asked him to repeat his story thinking I missed something.
He was driving down the road when his battery died and left him and his family stranded.
‘Sir, that can’t be your battery. Your battery does not power anything when the car is running. It gets recharged by the alternator while in operation. You could crank your car and disconnect the battery entirely and your car would run fine assuming the ECU over voltage safeguards were fine. Whatever it is, it is more than just your battery.’
‘JUST WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU THINK KNOW?’
‘I am a broke person who has always had to fix his own vehicles because he couldn’t afford a mechanic. And I know you are out here panhandling because we are in the middle of nowhere, Arizona at 3AM and parts stores closed at least 4 hours ago.'”
I Can’t Believe An Apartment Company Would Be Sketchy
“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 home owner.
After a few minutes of searching, I contacted the home owner 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 home owner 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 home owner 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.”
They Thought They Had Her
“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 has to stop talking in order to calm me down as I’m really losing it. As soon as he calms me down, off he goes again, telling me if I don’t pay, I’ll go to jail. Well, I just lose it again. Crying, wailing, the whole nine yards.
Again, he tries to calm me down. Finally, with hitching sobs, I calm down enough to ask him how much I owe the IRS. When he tells me it’s $24,000, well, you know, I just lost it again. Crying. Wailing. Sobbing.
‘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, noooooo! Noooooo!’
He calms me down again with the suggestion that he might be able to reduce what I owe to just $12,000. Which, of course, just sets me off again.
‘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 manages to calm me down enough to where I can ask him one final question.Before I gave him my credit card number, 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 such as I’ve never heard before (and I’ve heard a lot) while I’m laughing. He then warns me that, ‘I’ll be sorry’ to which I reply, ‘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!”
Simple But Effective
“I got an SMS from ‘my bank’ saying that my online banking got blocked and had a link for me to unblock it. I entered out of curiosity and it was just a form to fill my card information.
I made a small program that submitted the form with fake random data, 5,000 times per second; eventually their site crashed. They put it up again, and I just modified the software with the new information.
It was a fun day, and even though I couldn’t delete the data they had stolen, I had put in so much fake data it would’ve been really hard to get even one legit card number.”
How Did They Think They Could Get Away With This?
“My husband was almost scammed by a ‘work at home’ scheme many years ago. We narrowly missed being swindled out of several thousand, but in the end had no loss. Angrily I posted our story on several websites that specialized in outing scammers to warn others about this particular company. They proceeded to threaten one of the site owners so egregiously that he literally shut his site down for fear of being sued by their lawyers. Eventually the company turned to the source, calling me with threats of a lawsuit for defamation if I didn’t take down my complaints. Apparently I had put a dent in their ‘business.’ I didn’t back down and continued to post the truth about them everywhere I could.
A few weeks later, my husband and I received a summons in the mail. We were being sued by the company for defamation and were to appear in court in the state they were located, thousands of miles away. I sought legal advice and was told they had to sue us in our own jurisdiction. A letter to the court, the suit was dropped, and they were out however much they had paid to file the suit.
But they persisted, because I persisted, posting every day about their scam. A month or so later, we received another summons, this time in our jurisdiction. I wasn’t worried because nothing I had written about our experience was untrue, and truth is the perfect defense against a defamation case.
A few weeks before we were scheduled to appear in court, we discovered the company had been raided by federal authorities and the owner imprisoned. Ha!
I wrote an email to the local attorney the company had hired to represent them: ‘Given that your sleazy client is currently rotting in a cell for the crime of scamming people, which I’ve been saying all along, may we presume they have dropped the defamation suit against us?’
Funny, they never answered.”
If She Didn’t Get Fired, Find A New Store
“A few weeks ago, I went into my local grocery store to buy my weekly lottery ticket.
‘Three Powerball draws and two Mega Million draws please,’ I said.
In a few seconds, she returned with the tickets and I handed her a $50 bill. She gave me change for a $20.
‘I think that was a $50 I gave you,’ I said, and without batting an eye she simply reached into the drawer and pulled out $30 and handed it to me along with the $10 she had already gotten.
‘She just tried to shortchange me,’ I fumed as I went out into the parking lot, extremely upset.
The next day I went back to the grocery store and asked to speak to the manager.
‘Would you mind if we went somewhere private to talk,’ I asked.
‘Not at all,’ she replied and directed me towards a table in the small dining area.
I told her what had happened: shortchanged, no apology from the clerk, no acknowledgement that she had made a mistake, and most concerning of all she didn’t balk for a second when getting me the additional change I was due.
She asked if I could describe the clerk, and what time the incident had occurred, which I did.
‘I know exactly who you’re talking about. I’ll have to pull the tapes,’ she said, and we parted amicably.
I’ve not seen that clerk again and I hope she got canned and won’t be able to find work again. Trying to steal $30 may not be the height of a big caper, but as the old saying goes, ‘It’s not the first time she’s done this, only the first time she’s been caught.’ I hope she got fired.”