In times of desperation, it can be very easy to be taken advantage of by those who have an upper hand. Sometimes, if luck and intuition play their parts, one can avoid getting scammed or ripped off. Below, people share their stories about times where they were completely ripped off, times when they were able to avoid the con and get away free, and when they made the best out of a crummy situation. Content has been edited for clarity.
"The worst one is probably when I was desperately applying for jobs after graduating.
I hadn't found a job for months in the finance sector and just applied to be an administrative assistant at a small local exchange. I looked up their website and everything looked legit, the hiring manager spoke fairly fluent English. They said they were interested in hiring me for a position that leveraged more of my education. I was stoked - almost 1.5x the pay and the workload was much more my style.
They wanted some identifying information like my driver's license and passport. Didn't think too much about it. Scanned it off and sent it to them. They told me everything looked good and they wanted to do a phone interview. I asked them why not in person and they told me I wasn't at that stage yet.
For some reason, I felt a bit suspicious, so I looked like the address on their letterhead which was a legit business park in my area. Called them and the phone lines were dead. Called the building owner and they told me that the property was vacant, and had been for almost a year now.
At this point I knew identity theft would be possible, so I just went into a full blown panic getting everything exchanged. Learned a valuable lesson that day. I didn't lose anything but I'll be gosh be darned if my personal information is floating around somewhere."
"I myself never got scammed, but I almost did. I saw an ad one day explaining how extras were wanted for a very popular tv series. So I decided to sign up and they told me based on the application I had sent them, I was perfect. The only thing I had to do was sign up for my audition, which was at a place conveniently right down the road from me. So I set up a date along with my contact information and went on with my day, excited for the audition.
Days before my audition, I decided to look up the studio that was holding the auditions, and I read the reviews, most of them were about how they all got ripped off. Basically, people went to audition there, and they were told that they were 'perfect for the part,' and that 'the director or producers of (name of tv show, movie, play, etc. you’re auditioning for) is actually coming to town soon and we would love to work with you to get you ready for when they come by!' So for x amount of money (obviously very expensive) per week, people would go to the studio to rehearse with them, only to one day find out that 'the director or producers unfortunately couldn’t make it here for your audition,' which would cause a ton of people to drop out then and there. And because they signed a contract as well before their rehearsals, they wouldn’t get any of their money back.
That’s when I realized I was about to participate in a scam, and I immediately wanted out. I immediately texted the studio, telling them I no longer wanted to audition. I thought that was done. But several strange numbers from the studio kept calling me and/or texting me, basically begging me to reschedule for an audition. Finally, after about a week of blocking all these numbers from my phone, they finally left me alone. About a year later, my cousin almost also fell for the same scam from a different acting company, claiming they were looking for an actress for a popular tv series (the same one I nearly auditioned for I think) saying that she was the perfect criteria for the part. We immediately talked her out of it. Thankfully, she cancelled her audition after finding out that they had already cast somebody for the role she'd been auditioning for months prior to the scam. Please be careful if you ever decide to sign up for an audition for a movie or tv show. Make sure the company is legit before carrying on with the audition process. I was thankfully able to find a legit company through a neighbor who actually works there, and I’m hoping one day I can be an extra or get an actual role from it!"
"This is a story from my childhood, someone tried to steal my working NES. It was the late 80s, and I was about 9 or something. I had one of my 'friends' call me up, and he invited me to his house so he could clean my NES. Thought it was strange, but he was very insistent and I didn't want to argue. Brought it over, he started cleaning the NES, asked me to get something from the kitchen (a butter knife, I think). I went, found it after a few seconds of searching, I brought it back to him. He said he was finished, left the NES on top of his TV, and left the room to get something.
But my NES looked very different. I stared at it a bit, and I noticed that it was missing a crack that had always been there. Looked on the floor where his NES was, it had the crack. The jerk tried the ol' switcheroo. I tensed up. I didn't want to argue with the kid as confrontation wasn't my strong point. So, I just switched them back as quickly as I could. He was gone for a while which made the whole switching back scenario pretty easy. After he came back, I told him I had to go, thanked him for the cleaning, went home.
After about 30 minutes, he called my house again. He asked me which NES I took home. I plainly told him I took mine. He asked again, 'Yeah, but did you take the one on the TV or the one on the floor?' So I just told him again that I had took mine. He sounded defeated as all he could muster to say was, 'Alright... bye.'"
"My then girlfriend and I were looking for a new apartment as our lease was coming up. There was a post on Craigslist and the place was exactly what we had been looking for and the right amount. The 'landlord' was a couple from the area but were on a mission trip out in Malaysia working with sick kids and that they weren't able to get us in for a showing but we could drive past the house and get a look at it.
Within the next few hours of contact with them, they got really pushy and were pretty much demanding us to make the decision and to send them $150 deposit to hold the apartment for us. My ex was the one doing all the communicating since I was at work and when she was telling me all of this, red flags started going up. I told my ex that it was most likely a scam if they weren't going to allow us to walk through the apartment and are trying to get a deposit out of us, sight unseen.
She assured me that it wasn't a scam and gave me all of their info so I could send the money. They wanted a western union money order sent to some place in Nigeria. I burst out laughing and told her that it was definitely a scam. We got into a big argument and I had to go down the list of things that I saw wrong with the scenario:
1) Not letting us see the apartment before signing a lease.
2) Making us send a deposit without letting us see the apartment.
3) Sending a wire transfer to Nigeria.
4) They are doing mission work in Malaysia but want their money transferred to another country.
My ex went quiet after that."
"Quite a few years ago, I was supplementing my income by doing digital photograph editing for models. While I did receive a handful of bizarre requests (like the one from a guy who seemed like he was trying to augment his dating site profile), most of my clients were straightforward and honest. That state of affairs lulled me into a false sense of security, and it left me open to getting scammed out of hours of work.
The individual who ultimately ripped me off was billing herself as a plus-sized model and an entrepreneur, and she wanted me to touch up some images for her business's website. To this day, I don't know what that 'business' actually did, given that the page in question seemed like it was just a clunky invitation to meet the woman at whatever nightclub she happened to be frequenting. Before you ask, no, she wasn't a lady of the night; she was just the self-proclaimed 'soul sister in the city' who was apparently pretending that she was some sort of celebrity. Still, she offered me a decent amount of money for what should have been a fairly brief project, so I took the job.
Now, I know that I should have been wiser about this – like I implied, I was a little bit naive – but after I had finished the pictures, I sent them over to the woman for her approval. She said that she was happy with them, then asked if I would edit a few more, saying that she would double my fee for the trouble. Once again, I agreed... but when the time finally came for me to get paid, things started going downhill.
The first excuse I received was that my client was waiting for her latest paycheck to clear. Not long later, she claimed that she didn't have a PayPal account, then said that she'd send me a check via standard mail. A couple of weeks passed after that, and when I finally asked where my payment was, she responded by saying that it must have gotten lost in the mail. Finally – when I asked her to send me a money order with a tracking number – she insinuated that I was trying to scam her by attempting to trick her into paying me twice.
Needless to say, I was a little bit irritated, not least of all because her excuses didn't make sense.
That same woman reached out to me again about a month later, too, with a request for an animated banner. I told her that I would be happy to assemble it, but that she would have to compensate me for my previous work... and as she had done before, she said that she would double what she already owed me if I would finish her project first. Fortunately, I had learned my lesson, so I wrote back to her by stating that while I appreciated her generosity, I'd really need upfront payment this time around.
Her response was a long-winded message which suggested (amongst other things) that I was trying to scam her, that it was hilarious how she had scammed me, that I was not particularly well-endowed, that I had probably made copies of the images I had already seen, and that she was going to sue me for copyright infringement. She signed off by promising that I would be hearing from her lawyer in the very near future.
I can only assume that his correspondence got lost in the mail, too."
"I was about 22 and I was hanging out on a Sunday afternoon. I was walking to my car from a head shop. As I got into my car, a man ran up to me speaking in what I figured to be an African accent. He was asking for directions to a bank. He had on a coat and in the inside pockets he had a large amount of cash in 100 dollar bills. I'm talking at least 20 grand, but probably more. Several large stacks of 100 dollar bills. He didn't look poor or rich, just very foreign. He said quickly, and with a strong accent, that he was from out of town and had only just come into town for a few weeks to take care of his brother's affairs, since he had passed away. He just got out of the lawyers office and this money was part or his inheritance.
I told him to put away the money as he was in a bad area and I offered to drive him to a bank down the road. As we were driving, he seemed to get worried and had me pull over as if he was having second thoughts. He was worried that the banks were not trustworthy. This is where he got me. I, an American, was proud to show off the legitimacy of my country and our great banks. He was concerned that they would take his money and wouldn't release it in time for him to leave. So I started to try to convince this random guy that the banks were legit and that it was all good. At this moment Guy Two came into the picture.
From my perspective, he came out of a painting truck and had the clip board, paint covered cloths and a truck full of painting stuff. He said he was repainting the lines in the parking lot. Made sense. He said he saw us arguing and asked what was up. He then took my side and tried to convince this guy that the banks were safe. This is where I messed up. The guy seemed way better at dealing with the other guy than me and offered to ride right down the street to help me with this foreign guy and the bank situation. It was like a 3 minute drive from there so no biggie and he was at lunch so he had time.
When we got to the bank, the foreign guy got nervous and was all worried that we couldn't easily take large amounts of money from the bank. So I, a veritable idiot, then proceeded to take out my rent money, around 1,000 dollars out of the ATM and drive around the lot to go back in and put it back in the bank. Those two guys were ready for this. They were buttering me all up saying the foreign guy was going to give me some cash for helping him out, donate to my church? Etc.. all kinds of 'you're such a swell guy' and 'we want to help you' kind of stuff. They had a car waiting on the other side of the building. I guess there was a third guy who followed us there...
They grabbed the cash and got in that car, facing the opposite way and bolted before I could blink. I couldn't believe it. It happened so fast. I panicked and told my parents and they asked if I was addicted to anything and needed money since this was so unbelievable... it really happened though and those guys were legit thieves. It was so well planned and executed I never picked up on anything until it happened in a flash. One of the craziest experiences of my life."
"I bought resale tickets for a House of Blues show that sold out almost immediately. It was a concert that my roommate and I really wanted to go to so I decided to check the Facebook event page to see if anyone was reselling their tickets. Now, I’ve done this before with good results at least 5 times. I’m an avid concert-goer and I generally believe most people have good intentions. We bought the tickets off a girl via cash-app and she emailed me the 'electronic tickets.' I looked them over and they looked legit. All was set. The day of the concert, my roommate and I pregamed pretty hard, super excited for the show. We got there and the tickets wouldn’t scan. My heart sank. We worked with the vendor for like 20 minutes to try to get it figured out. Finally they said no dice and we walked out defeated. We stood in the parking lot for a few minutes trying to determine what our next move would be since we were both pretty tipsy and super bummed. I went around the corner to call my friend and see what he was up to and I saw a guy smoking a cig on a bench. I noticed he had an all access pass on. I ended the call and walked up to him and explained my situation. I called my roommate over to corroborate the story and he expressed that he was sorry we got scammed, but there was nothing he could do. He seemed like a cool guy none the less, and we had nowhere to be so we just chatted him up. Asked him if he had been to our city before and if he needed any after-concert bar recommendations. Once he finished his cig, he said, 'You know what, stay right here. I’ll see what I can do,' and came back out a few minutes later with two all access passes for us. I still think about messaging the girl that scammed us to let her know her con didn't work but I don’t even want to waste my time. We had an amazing night because of her in the long run!"
"I was 22 years old and moving (back) to New York.
Craigslist apartment share with some dude
We meet at the apartment and go inside, basement level 1bd/1ba, he’d have the bedroom, I’d have the living room. It’s under construction, will be done by the following Monday (8 days later) for move in. His girlfriend was from LA so they spent a lot of time out there, he’d only be in NY 2 weeks out of the month. $1,000/mo in the East Village.
We really hit it off, normal late 20s early 30s dude, kinda felt like he was flirting with me but also he was just outgoing. Decided it would be a good fit. I gave him a month deposit up front in cash (because I had it in cash), we went to a bar around the corner to celebrate the decision, we walk to a key copy place and he makes me copies, decide to meet up later the following week to press out move in details because he and I would be getting our stuff there same day.
He stops returning texts/calls. I go to the apartment on like Wednesday, keys don’t work, no further construction has been done since we were there last.
I call my friends and cry that I got scrummed
FINALLY the number texts me back. He says he lost his phone and got it returned a few days later, I explained the situation, dude says by the looks of the text history of what had been going while his phone was lost, whoever had his phone had scammed multiple people during the course of those three days or so.
Walked by the apartment a few years later, it was a barbershop."
"When I was younger, I started buying car parts off a dude, all of the parts always had boxes and were brand new so I didn't think much of it other than maybe he worked at an auto parts store and got them with his employee discount, then added a bit on for my price. But I wanted a full exhaust system from him so I gave him the money up front which was the normal thing but what was different this time was that his car had no license plates on it. I didn't notice until he drove off, then he cold shouldered me. Dropped all connection and blocked my number etc.
So this guy ran off with $1k from me.
Lucky for me, I got friends in high places who were able to check the prints on the intake he sold me and installed for me on my car.
Since it wasn't over a felony level, not much could be done other than my own work. I went to his house with a notice of small claims court and a business card to my lawyer attached. I listed out the rates of what my time and the people in high places time is worth and a total bill.
I ring the door bell and hand him the notice of court then walk back to my car.
He comes running out freaking out and he says he has the exhaust, etc etc.
When I ask him where, the jerk had installed it on his own car. I then make him jack his car up and take off the system right in front me. He even had the audacity to ask me ,'But you're taking the exhaust off my car what am I suppose to do?!'
My response was simple: 'Not my dang problem.'
So yes I got scammed but I got the scammer back."
"On New Years Day, I sat in my car eating Jack-in-the-Box trying to piece together what I'd gotten into the night before. I was very hungover and did NOT want to go into work that evening. I was just about ready to leave when a man pulled up next to me and shouted, 'Hey! Is everything ok!? Do you need help or something?'
I go, 'No man, just heading to work.'
He says, 'Well, I tried getting your attention back there for 2 blocks! You bumped into the front end of my car!' Whatever you're imagining this guy looking like is exactly what he was. Fat, curly haired, late 40's. He had a styrofoam cup of used Q-tips in his front seat and later I realized he reeked of adult beverages.
I was freshly 21 and scared that somehow I'd fail a sobriety test even though it had been almost 24 hours since my last drink. I hopped out of the car shaking as he showed me probably the saddest 2" scrape on the front end of his already messed up Nissan. He goes, 'Yeah, this is a real problem, and you know what, I don't want to get the cops involved. You seem like a nice kid. I'll tell you what, I got a friend down in San Jose who's got a dealership, he'll buff this out for about 500 bucks.'
I was shaking still and explained that I'd just paid rent, (which was true), and that I had a whole 20 dollars to my name. He didn't believe me so we went to an ATM where I failed to withdraw the money he wanted. We worked out a deal in which I was going to fill his tank up and buy him a carton of cigs. The card worked at the pump where I tried choosing regular and he said, 'I don't do that stuff, I go Premium.' However, my card wouldn't work for the cigs.
Eventually he realized he was trying to milk a turnip, so he let me go and said, 'You're a good kid.' It sucked but I learned that when a fat drinker asks for money, you call the cops instead."