Every day, scammers all around the world try to pull a fast one on unsuspecting people. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Other times, the interactions do a complete 180.
People on Quora who have scammed a scammer share how they did it. Content has been edited for clarity.
Seeing Right Through His Play
“I had the duty one weekend and got a call from the local hospital. Could I come down and talk to them about a potential prescription fraud case? Sure. I drove over and went up to the third or fourth floor, where all these nurses are standing around, talking to each other. Some looked mad, some looked worried, and none of them were paying any attention to their patients. I identified myself and said, ‘What’s up?’ The head nurse said they’re not really, exactly, certainly, sure what’s up, but they think they’re getting scammed. They’re not sure by whom or how, but it’d been going on for almost a week. She was one of the worried-looking ones.
One of the mad-looking one’s spoke up and said she knew what’s up and proceeded to fill in the story. Back on Monday, this guy checked himself into the hospital, going to have surgery later in the week. The doctor/surgeon had privileges at the hospital but didn’t actually work there, so none of the staff were familiar with him. They got a call from the doctor’s office confirming the arrangement, and ordering up some substances – including morphine – for the patient, who’s now snuggled down into his hospital bed.
Well, the surgery got postponed when the doctor called and said he had some conflict or something, and the hospital agreed to go along. Then, about Thursday, the doctor actually came in to check on the patient, who had gone down to the cafeteria or somewhere, so they, unfortunately, missed each other. The doctor reviewed the chart and all the paperwork and said he had to get back to surgery, ordering some more morphine before he left. The nurses thought it was a little odd because the doctor was wearing full scrubs, including booties and a gauze mask, but he was on the way to surgery. A little while later, the patient came back, sorry to have missed the doctor.
This same scene repeated itself on Friday, and again that morning, which is when one of the mad-looking nurses pulled the plug and called me.
‘I don’t think there is a doctor. I think he’s the doctor.’
All the nurses are nodding like little bobbleheads. Yep, they do too. I started laughing. He’s got the scrubs stashed someplace nearby and goes and changes like Superman, then strolls in and orders himself some more morphine. Everybody nodded.
‘So, does this doctor he’s impersonating really exist, did anybody check?’ I asked.
Everybody nodded, and the head nurse said she just got off the phone with him and he says he doesn’t know this guy and doesn’t have anybody in the hospital waiting for surgery. None of the prescriptions issued in his name were any good, either. Furthermore, he was about six inches taller than the patient. I’m still laughing and I told all of them to lighten up, this is one for the grandkids.
So, where was Dr. Patient now? Back in bed, enjoying his morning morphine fix.
I said, ‘Fine, let me borrow your stethoscope.’
The head nurse handed it over. I picked the two biggest, toughest-looking nurses and asked them to come with me. I hung the stethoscope around my neck and walked into the room. (Private, of course.) I didn’t say anything right off, just got the chart off the hook and staredt flipping through it.
He sat up a little and said, ‘What’s going on? Who are you?’
I said, ‘I’m the doctor on duty today and I’m here to arrange the pre-surgical procedures.’
You could see his mind going about a hundred miles an hour, trying to figure out what to say.
Finally, he asked, ‘What kind of procedures?’
I said, ‘Oh, one to clean everything out. Have to have one of those. Maybe two or three, right, nurse?’
They’re both smiling grimly like they really would like to give this guy an enema.
He’s like stuttering, ‘What? I’m not supposed to get that!’
I said, ‘No, no, I’m going to put it right here on the chart.’
He says he wants to talk to his doctor before we do anything. I said that won’t be necessary. We just got off the phone with the doctor and he gave us a phone diagnosis.
‘He said he thinks you’re full of it, and so do I.’
The nurses nodded, they thought so too.
‘We’ve got two ways of treating that condition. You can either stay there in bed and get this cleaning or come with me.’ And I pulled out a pair of handcuffs.
He just wilted, but I wasn’t done. He wanted to get dressed, but I told him the heck with that. I transported him in his undies and his hospital gown, those awful ones that tie in the back and still don’t close and show everything, which is how he got booked into the cellblock. I imagine that made quite an impression on the other inmates.”
If Only He Answered The Phone Call
“Back in 1989, I was looking for a house to rent for my family. It wasn’t going well. Most homes in the price range I could pay were either in poor condition or in a bad neighborhood. I was chasing every lead, so when I saw a sign nailed to a telephone pole that offered ‘three bedroom homes for rent – $450,’ I called and left a message.
The man who called me back introduced himself as ‘Jesse,’ and he indicated he had two vacant houses remaining. He gave me the addresses and said to call back if I was interested in either home. The first house was much like the others I had been seeing — a marginal condition in a marginal neighborhood. The second house wasn’t at all like I expected. It was awesome ! It was in a good neighborhood. Looking through the windows, I actually counted four bedrooms, with a master bedroom that opened onto a deck, and it had a sunroom!
Convinced he had given me the wrong address, I called back, and when he confirmed the address, I quickly told him I wanted to lease the house. He met me at the house, and he seemed to know almost nothing about it. He even seemed surprised the house actually had four bedrooms. We signed the lease, and he took my first month’s rent and a deposit check for the same amount.
After a little more than a month of the high life in our new home, a trivial incident happened that was the first indication of trouble. The float in a toilet broke, but it was no big deal. I spent $10 replacing the part and wanted to arrange to deduct the cost from the next month’s rent. I called and left a message for Jesse that I had something I wanted to talk to him about, but he didn’t call me back. I called back a week later to remind him that I needed to talk to him, but again he didn’t return the call.
It was a Sunday morning, a few weeks later, and I was leisurely lying on the sofa reading the local paper when something caught my eye; a report of an emerging scam taking place across the country.
As the story explained, because the economy had quickly slowed, home values had plummeted, and in many areas, homeowners owed much more on their mortgages than their homes were worth. Some homeowners, though, had a type of mortgage called an FHA ‘non-qualifying assumable’ loan. This allowed a homeowner to sell their home to anyone, regardless of the buyer’s qualifications or ability to pay, with the buyer simply taking over the seller’s debt to the FHA. The article indicated that con men were buying large numbers of these houses, immediately renting them out, and collecting rent without making mortgage payments for as long as possible until the homes were foreclosed.
The article went on to interview renters who had been told they had to leave the foreclosed houses, and some key things stood out: they had surprisingly low rent on nice homes (so the scammer could start the rent stream ASAP), and once they moved in, they could never get in touch with the landlord, despite multiple calls.
I asked a neighbor what he knew about the buyer and, sure enough, he told me that the previous owner owed over $100K on a house she was told she could sell for about $65K, but a buyer agreed to take over her mortgage for the full amount.
I was so mad! The last thing I wanted to do was give this scammer another dollar. He had already taken my deposit and two months’ rent. I called the Austin Tenants Council and explained the situation. The friendly lawyer said I had no proof and I absolutely, under no circumstances, could stop paying rent.
I remembered he hadn’t called me back about the $10 toilet float, and I had never told him why I had called. I decided to give him one last chance, and if he called me back, I would have to keep paying rent. I called him one last time, acting furious and threatening, and waited.
He never called back, and I never sent another check.
About three months later, we got the first note on our door demanding we ‘call the bank about your mortgage.’ It had begun. The same thing happened for the next four months. During the fourth month, we found a notice posted on the door saying the house was being foreclosed, and we had to vacate it in 60 days.
In the end, we were in the house for just over nine months, for which we paid two months’ rent and lost the deposit. The scammer lost over $2,500 just for not returning my call about a 10 buck toilet part.
About three years later, I was in my garage when my wife came in and said, ‘Two guys from the FBI are here and they want to talk to you.’
The agents introduced themselves and asked if we had lived at the address of the scam rental house.
I said, ‘Yes, for nine months,’ and they indicated Jesse had been arrested crossing the border into Mexico. He had pulled the same scam on over 20 houses, and they were tasked with building the felony case against him for cheating the FHA. They said they would need a copy of my lease agreement and copies of all the rent checks.
‘Yeah, about that, I stopped paying after the second month,’ I said.
They were incredulous, and when I explained that I quit paying because of the toilet piece and everything, they burst out laughing. I gave them the lease agreement and agreed to get copies of the few checks for them.
Jesse later pled guilty and went to the pokey (ironically, the house is now worth $270K more than he paid for it. If he had just paid the mortgage and kept it, instead of making like a bandit, he could have made out like a bandit).
Man, I loved that sunroom!”
Immediately Seeing The Red Flags
“When I was unemployed, I was an intended victim of a somewhat more sophisticated than 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 the job. Now, here is where it gets weird.
They said they would send me a certified check to use to help establish my remote home office. The check would 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 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.
The 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 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 six $100 cards. Then, call me back when you have done so,’ I was told.
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. It was to buy the licenses for the software that they are installing on the laptop they will send me as soon as the software is installed and registered.
Right. They were sending me money, some of which I have to send back, so they can pay for software licenses 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 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 had 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 an copy of it.
I returned to the alleged employer’s website and noticed 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.”
He Came Prepared
“I was 16, a magician, and looking to impress a girl. What could go wrong?
I was meeting her in Central Park and I got there a little early. While waiting, I saw a man playing 3-card-monte. He had a pretty big crowd around him. I joined the onlookers and quickly recognized his particular method of cheating. I had read about it and even practiced it a little for fun. By the time he asked you to ‘find the lady,’ there was no lady on the table.
My date arrived and I asked her if she wanted to see something cool. I explained to her how he was cheating and told her to watch what I did.
Being a magician, I always had a deck of cards on me. He was using the standard red bicycle deck, the same as I had. I stepped behind a boulder for a moment, took out my queen of hearts, and bent it to look like his. I went back and put down just about everything I had in my wallet. When he told me to ‘find the lady,’ I did a little sleight of hand of my own, flipping the middle card while replacing it with the queen of hearts from my own deck. The look on his face was priceless. To his credit, though he must have known I had played him, he did pay up. He probably didn’t want to lose his crowd, knowing he could make his money back from them. It didn’t occur to him though that he now had two ‘lady’s’ and two other cards, not enough for his usual scam.”
That’s One Way To Get Rid of An Email Scammer
“Way back when email was very new, I got a scammer email. I decided to have some fun with him.
I posed as an archaeologist who was just about to go on a dig; I was really interested in helping him because it would help finance my work ‘which I can’t get academic funding for, due to the controversy,’ but I would be in touch with him in about a week.
In a week, sure enough, he emailed me again. I was ‘back from the dig,’ and I had made some ‘really exciting finds’ indicating the worship of some ‘totally unknown gods or demons’ in the middle of Indiana before the men arrived. I asked him for details, said I would get back to him once I had the details, and said I was mailing him one of the many ‘amulets’ I had found as a souvenir.
He emailed me right back, but my response was about the strange sounds I was hearing at night. He emailed me again, but my response was the shadows in my office and apartment seemed to be acting ‘oddly.’ There was a lot more back and forth like that, then I stopped emailing him.
After about five increasingly testy emails from him, I emailed him from a new account, as ‘Detective Such and Such’ with the ‘Indianapolis PD.’ I described in detail the scene of carnage we had discovered in the archaeologist’s office and the fact that everything was covered with a layer of strange, glowing slime. I told him sternly that he was the last contact on the archaeologist’s email account, they wanted to question him at length. And oh, I hadn’t mailed him anything, had I?
Amazingly, I never heard from him again.”
She Wanted His Opinion
“I got the ‘You owe money to the and are going to jail’ phone call. I knew it was a scam because not only does the agency 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 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 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 tried to calm me down. Finally, with hitching sobs, I calmed down enough to ask him how much I owe them. When he told me it’s $24,000, well, you know, I just lost it again. Crying. Wailing. Sobbing. What am I going to do? Oh my, 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 he might be able to reduce what I owe to just $12,000. Which, of course, just set 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 managed to calm me down enough to where I could ask him one final question. Before I gave him my credit card number, would it be okay if I asked 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 my butt off. He then warned me ‘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.”
He Didn’t See That Coming
“My daughter answered the phone. We had a new number, and this lawyer accused her of being the debtor and said the police would be out to arrest her. She was 12. Fortunately, we had caller ID (before spoofing) and the lawyer had said his name and address, and the machine was on.
My daughter was in tears. My ex-wife called the lawyer and recorded the call (wherein he claimed the 12-year-old daughter would be arrested). During the call, while being transferred, she said it was being recorded, so the recording was legal.
We filed a complaint with the attorney general’s office and Bar association, and he was suspended from the law for a year and on probation for three years.
Guess his collection tactics didn’t work against unrelated people. He lost.”
Little Did He Know It Was Valid
“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 bucks. I loaned it to him and he returned it. About six weeks later, his Mom had an emergency and he needed 400 bucks 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 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 earshot and vision of what I was doing. I had handwritten a small ‘loan agreement with interest’ 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.”
There Was Written Proof
“Downtown where I grew up there was an office building, the one my father worked in, right between a live theater and the local library. The library owned the parking lot between the two buildings.
One night I was going to the live theater and figured since my dad rented a space (as well as my uncle and grandfather) I would just use his space to park and save myself some money. I pulled into the spot he is registered for, and a guy ran up to me. He said I owed him five dollars to park there. I told him, no this spot belonged to me and my family. He says it was his parking lot and no I was not registered for that space. I told him if he does not like it he can call the cops and he did.
Cops showed up and he gave them this huge spiel how I was trying to steal paid parking and he was going to have my car towed. The cop came over to me a little hostile and asked me why I think I get to park there for free. I hand him my driver’s license and pointed to the sign on the wall showing my last name matching the last name on the placard. I then pointed out two more spaces also matched my last name and explained those are my uncle and grandfather’s spots. Since we leased those spots from the city library, they belong to us 24/7 and I was just using my parking place after hours. I then advised him I wanted the 10 dollars that guy charged someone else to park in my family spaces.
The only time I ever made money parking downtown.”
Don’t Mess With This Person
“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 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.’
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 I need new spark plug wires. Oh, really? I asked to see the wires. They had been cut. I explained to the man 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.”