Friday, May 1, 2009

Deal or No Deal -- I

It was the best of skunks, it was the worst of skunks -- Waldorf Enus Shakespeare, 37th Cousin, Thrice-Removed for drunkeness, of The Bard (or so it is claimed by Roget's Geneasaurus).
And I should note that this episode in two parts (or so it appears now), has nothing to do with Howie.
Instead, it has to do with a work place colleague, who sought a dubious source for help widda waskily online scammer: me.
I wish I could say, without hesitation or reservation, that the help was rendered without a single bad Barney song. But I'd be lyin'. More on that (sadly) coming up.
Allow me to set the stage (some pun maybe intended): a friend's spouse places a 'for sale' ad on Craigslist. The ad draws a respondent. After a couple emails and phone conversations, a deal for the for-sale item is negotiated, and the friend's spouse sits back to await the arrival of payment via UPS.
Then comes the first barking spider in the elevator: the check that arrives is not for the negotiated price, but over six times that amount. When the respondent/prospective purchaser is queried, the email response is the equivalent of "oh whoops...error", followed by instructions that rightly send a *TOING* through the seller: deposit the check, keep $100 for the trouble and the amount due for the purchase, and send the balance back via Western Union (the balance being $3700).
Another *TOING* for the seller: the UPS with check arrived from Sacramento, CA. The destination for the Western Union payment: a small town in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. And the check? From a business AND bank in Cleveland, OH. Different names of check sender, wire recipient, account holder, AND the prospective purchaser. My friend wisely tells her spouse to go to the bank and have the check verified. Third *TOING*: it's as bad as a William Hung's Greatest Hits album.
Most of y'all know what you'd do in a case like this. So whaddaya suppose THEY did? My friend calls yours truly for advice. And in the woids of Hazzard County's Sheriff Roscoe P. Coaltrane, "Geyuch, geyuch, hot pursuit!". After giving her the normal schpiel (DON'T deposit the check, DO call the police, DO notify Craigslist, DO save all correspondence), I have one of those patented *TOING*s of my own, and ask her if she'd mind sending me a copy of all the emails.
After explaining to her why, she's all too pleased to.
Game on. Well, maybe: maybe this scammer is a brain cell better than a door knob. Of course, I've had three concussions, so I'm prone to delusional 'benefit of doubt' granting now and again. So I read the scammer's last email to the seller -- who has been conspicuously silent since finding out the check was worth a sheet of used toilet paper -- and realize that nawp, the door knob's one up on the scammer in the intellect department. Read for yourself (written here exactly as sent by the scammer):
Email Title: DEAD OR ALIVE?
HELLO (Name left out by moi)
So my friend's hubby is now stepping out of the picture, and I am is taking over. Let's see if "Brain" notices the difference after the relay baton hand-off:
I am so sorry for the delay in my reply. What with the weather here -- snow, hurricanes, bird crap pandemics -- I have been under the weather, and not able to do much. But I am feeling better, so now I can attend to business.
Brain, you don't need to go to the FBI. What's with that? I mean, are we doing a business deal here or what? You've completed some of your end, and now await me to do some of my end, so you can get your money and machines, and I can get on with working on my time accelerator/decelerator project.
So that I understand this: the check you sent me for $4500 was a mistake made by the moving company. I understand mistakes. We're human, unless we're marsupials. You want me to deduct the money for the machines you're buying, plus money for my time and trouble, and I'm to Money Gram you back the balance of $100, right? Please confirm that I understand this correctly, and I'll see to it.
The reply below suggests that Brain doesn't notice the difference:
Hello (name withheld)
thanks for the mail and honest, All what you said is right only the thing you do for me is that kindely deduct you fund for the item and another $100 for you running around and egt the remaing $3700 send to my shipping company here is their info below
ZIP CODE: 27302
Afterward i will require the following info from you.....
1. The name and address of the sender
2. The amount sent. (after deducting the transfer charges)
3. The reference number money gram
Please deduct the transfer charges from the amount you want to send to the mover, also i will like you to send me the map quest to your house so that it would be easy for my mover when coming...
And before I can reply, I get this supplemental from Brain (who, at least in this email, says his name is Brian):
Prior to our conversation on the phone i will like you to know the hundred dollars i am talking about in my last mail is the money i am giving you for your inconveniences, i will like you to transfer the remaining fund after deducting the price of machines to the shipper who will come to pickup the machine so that he can deliver both the machine and the remaining money to me, i will be most happy if you can assist me with this because i am beginning to worry about the whole situation, it will be better if you can send the money to the shipper ASAP so that he will commerce with the pickup immediately.
Since Brain failed the 'notice the relay baton hand-off' test, now it's time to test Brain's comprehension skills:
Once we have the moneys properly accounted for, kindly tell your movers to be very careful when they do arrive to pick up the machines. My two pit bulls -- Bloody and Mary -- have kind of adopted the machines, after an unsuccessful adoption of a family of grackels. It was cute, albeit ludicrous. Anyway, I haven't yet been able to get the machines separated from the dogs, as they're still in the suckling state of relationship evolution, but I will do my best before the movers arrive.
They're coming from North Carolina? Damn! When can I expect them? Anyway, confirm the money arrangement, and I'll be off to Western Gram later today during my errands. And thanks again for giving me the business, Brain!
Then I follow up with this to his follow up:
Thank you for the clarification to help me get this right; things have been worse than a porcupine enema around here lately. I am to send $100 to the address you sent me via Money Union, and give the movers the balance when they arrive. And please that you warn the movers about the dogs. This is very important because I don't want them to get eaten. The dogs are pretty fond of those machines.
A day goes by with no further communication -- perhaps "Brain" has grown one, and realized what he's reading -- so I decide to prod 'em like a stick in a hornets' nest:
So the movers won't have a problem picking up the machines, I'm taking them now to my in-law's house. The address is: 161 Gregory Street, Central City CO 80427 (you should be able to Mapquest this for the movers, no problem) (since it's an abandoned house, it's really no problem). There, the dogs won't be a problem for the movers, and they can pick up the money there. I'll tell my brother-in-law Enis all about how this works, so he won't shoot the movers as trespassers. Enis has had a few concussions, and ain't totally right, but he understands things when I explain it to him carefully. I'm leaving now to deliver them and make the Western Gram payment for $100.
This still doesn't draw a response from Brain, so later that day, I try one more prod:
The Money Union thing is sent, just as you instructed! I'll look forward to having your movers pick up the machines from my in-law's house. Tell 'em to use Mapquest to find the address I gave you. It's better than dealing with a sulking Bloody and Mary, I assure you!
Any questions, don't hesitate to contact me! Oh, and use my new Verizon cell phone to reach me: (a number that rings to a fax that's never answered).
And shore 'nuff, the last prod dun stirred ol' Brain:
What is happen with Western Union?you didn't send me informations I need. What is going on now?
I let him chew on no response overnight, and in the morning, send him this plot twist:
I am sooooo sorry about this. But that goat-smelling egg-sucking galoot brother-in-law of mine, Enis, he called me and told me that the machines I left there for your movers, he went and sold off to a scrap dealer neighbor of his. Dammit!
I'm real sorry about that. But since I've still got your money for the sale and for the movers, I've got plenty of other things I can sell you: a used Clapper (it's like an automatic on-off switch, when it works); a Barney-the-Purple-Dinosaur phone, that sings instead of rings to announce calls (Kids love me, yes you see, I can eat them three by three, it's for youuuuu). Or a one-of-a-kind collection of fossilized corn cobs used as toilet paper by a tribe of Australopithicus, a whole bunch of years before Christ or my great-grandma's fruitcake recipe. Or how about a collection of rare, exotic stuffed animals, the centerpiece of which is a cross between a pheasant and a duck? It's called a...well, I can't say 'cuz I have manners, but it says what it is on the plaque. It's kinda kewl; my wife just doesn't like it because it sounds dirty.
Or I got a lot of other stuff that I store in an old house up in Central City. Email me here or call me at my new cell number after 8am EDST, and we can work it out, just like the Beatles.
The better part of the day passes, and I finally get this from Brain:
I understand all youve said and i wont want you to be hard on your inlaw, please the $100 i was talking about was for you, please at this junction i am not intersted in buying anything any longer send the remaining money to my shipper because they still have some of my items with them, and i will want you to deduct your money for the machine and get the reminning balance which is going to be $3800 and get back to me with money gram info 8 digit refrence number so that they can continue my package around your area Please i am banking on your HONESTY.
LOL..."banking on your HONESTY"...*snort* I do love how Man trusts his fellow man what he's tryin' to swindle on Craigslist. Puts a lump in my bowels, shore 'nuff.
My reply, and the spiral downward of events (for Brain & Co) follows in Part II.


Blogger The Dental Maven said...

Can't believe ol' Brain was able to resist your grandma's fruitcake recipe. Testament to his anenchephaly.

01 May, 2009 06:37  
Blogger Skunkfeathers said...

TDM: yeah, a tribute to what you said ;)

01 May, 2009 07:29  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. A scam on Craigslist. How in the world did this happen? We must get the White House to take control of Craigslist so this corruption can be stopped! *snort* *cough* *giggle* *cough* *chortle* *sputter* *LMAO*

01 May, 2009 08:11  
Blogger Sherry said...

Yep! I was contacted by a potential buyer who wanted to send money in a quirky way. No, thanks just the same. Paypal or cash. That's it.

01 May, 2009 08:53  
Blogger Sandee said...

Good Lord. They are out there and I'll bet they breed too. Bwahahahahaha. You handle them very nicely though. Keep up the great work.

Have a terrific day and weekend. :)

01 May, 2009 09:00  
Blogger Monica said...

The scams I hate the most? The FBI saying do this or else and the soldier saying help with this.

The FBI isn't behind it and our soldiers are in Iraq fighting for their lives not scamming us.

Oh, thank you for the birthday wishes. BB still hasn't contacted me. (sniff sniff).

But I am not being lazy...I am working on my writing. woohoo!!

01 May, 2009 13:22  
Blogger A Lawyer Mom's Musings said...

Skunk to the rescue.

Unfortunately because I'm not devious enough . . . or, more likely, not smart enough, I got a little lost in the plotline/scam once suckling dogs and machines were introduced.

But, still, I followed it enough to know a show-down is coming. Next installment, please.

01 May, 2009 21:51  
Blogger Skunkfeathers said...

LMM: a showdown is definitely in the cards in Part II, early May 4. And it's kinda right up your career alley ;)

02 May, 2009 03:41  
Blogger Debbie said...

This is really an old scam isn't it, just a different twist. Seems like people used to try it at the cash register getting $10.00 back, saying they had given the cashier a $20.00 when they had only given them a $10.00 or a $1.00. It's amazing how many people might fall for it, good thing your friends knew YOU.

Craigslist can be a good thing, but like all good things can be used for criminals too.

Debbie Hamilton
Right Truth

03 May, 2009 09:25  
Blogger Sniffles and Smiles said...

PERFECT!!!!!! Who you gonna call???? Scambusters!!!!! Skunkfeathers, you're brilliant...and this is a hilarious piece of writing!!!!! LOVE IT!!!! Now, Part II plEEEESE...Thanks so much for stopping by my place, and if you do find a way to teach those dust bunnies wield a fire extinguisher, I would be much obliged to you if you would drop me another comment...Thanks for your time...No money in exchange for my visit will be necessary...Please do not send me any Western Union Telegraphs...and I should prefer if you keep your dogs away from my blog...LOL! Have a great week! You have made me smile!!! ~Janine

03 May, 2009 10:21  
Blogger Sniffles and Smiles said...

Skunkfeatherbusters...(pardon the evolution of your nomenclature), I LOVE to laugh...and so your blog will now officially be one of my favorite reads!!! I'm also a big fan of law in my real world, you are a hero... Again, thanks for stopping by! ~Janine

03 May, 2009 13:17  
Blogger Serena said...

Sorry I missed the debut of this one, but it's still hysterical. I love it when you dish it right back out to them.:-)

04 May, 2009 14:17  
Blogger Mayden' s Voyage said...

"Mebane" is just 20 minutes down the road from here...
Lol- you have no idea how tempted I am to see if "Tate Av" actually exists! :)

Word Veri:
"S Cons"

too funny!!!

08 May, 2009 14:14  

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