Ever gotten a randomly threatening phone call? Or a person offering a deal that is definitely too good to be true? Read on to see how these innocent bystanders got immensely satisfying revenge on the worst creeps! These scammers picked the worst people to target! Content has been edited for clarity.
"As a gullible thirty-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 actually returned it. About six 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 once again. 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 earshot 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 I got my money back over time, including interest. Take that!"
"I served in the US Navy, and my last duty station was on a ship, whose home port was at the Alameda Naval Air Station, right next to Oakland on the east side of the San Francisco Bay. I had already been in for four years and had been all over the States and around the world. There were a lot of guys who served that never had any experience in a big city, and the scam artists and con players were abundant in every city and town just outside the gates of a Navy base. Alameda was no different. One afternoon, I got an early jump on the rest of my buddies. We were heading out on the town to one of our favorite restaurants, and I was going to save a booth for us since it was a pretty popular establishment. Just outside the front gate, a guy was setting up a folding card table. I had seen these scammers take entire paychecks from idiots who thought they could win at 3 card Molly. They have three cards, they show you which card is the Queen, then they shuffle the cards around and you have to guess where the Queen is. They always let the mark win the first time to make sure that it is believable. Unfortunately the scam is that the 'dealer' palms the Queen from then on and replaces it with another card. The mark then begins losing everything, truly thinking that he can win back the money if only he watches a little closer. Now I had seen this on TV and in movies when I was growing up. My father was a card shark who had grown up in the Bronx and had shown me how it worked. I couldn't believe that there were actually people gullible enough to fall for this nonsense. But it happened every day, and sorry was the dealer who got caught cheating, because most sailors traveled in packs. But more often it was the mark who learned an expensive lesson for the future. Since I was the first guy this particular dealer saw that day, and especially since I was alone, he did his level best to get me to play. I kept blowing him off until he said, 'I'll put up $20 and you don't have to bet anything!'
In my mind I figured it was going to be the easiest $20 I ever made. I turned around and came back to his table and said okay. He showed me the Queen, shuffled the cards around and told me to pick the Queen, which I immediately did. I picked the $20 up, stuffed it in my pocket and walked away. He ran after me, trying to get me to come back and play again. I laughed and kept walking. Not only did that $20 pay for my dinner that night, but it covered a couple of glasses of bubbly as well!"
"I was out of college with no job in hand. I was not getting any interview calls either. It had been around a year, and I was struggling to get job after getting my bachelor's in technology degree. Finally, I decided to go for a consultant firm. I, along with my friend, went to a consultant firm. They had the whole setup to lure anyone. They said that there is registration fee of ?1000, and afterwards they will take an interview. If I would pass in interview, then they will arrange further interviews with around forty reputed companies. But who would pay ?1000 just for registration, knowing that there is interview where one might fail? For this, they said that if you would not pass the interview, then they will refund the whole registration fee. I thought that is a good deal. After all, I was not getting single interview call, and if I would pass in this interview, I would get the chance to give around forty interviews. So after discussing it with my friend, I paid the registration fee and gave the interview. The interviewer looked unprofessional to me. Probably he was one of the staff members and was asking silly questions, nothing related to my field. I got suspicious and thought that this could seriously turn into a scam. After the interview, they told me that interview result would be communicated over email on next day. Next day as expected, I received the email that I have passed the interview. Until now I was sure that this was a scam. I discussed it with my roommate, and we wanted our money back. But how? I had already paid and also passed the interview. The only way to give my money back was if I had failed that interview. Now it was my turn to scam the scammer.
I sent another email to myself, saying that I have failed the interview, and I needed to please collect my registration fee. I deleted the original email, which was sent to me saying that I was selected. I used an anonymous email program where you can send a fake email from any email address. And if you use the basic gmail template, then it is pretty tough to determine that it is a fake. So coming back to my story, the next day I went to that consultant office and said that I have gotten the email stating I failed the interview. So I want my fee back. They all were confused and were genuinely surprised that someone could fail the interview, confirming my suspicions. They talked to other staff members over the phone, but I insisted that I had failed. Then, as expected, they asked me to show them the email. I opened my gmail account and showed them the fake email, made to look like it came from their address. They also checked my deleted folder, but I was smart, since I had deleted the original email from there as well. Finally they had to return the registration fee. I was happy to scam the scammer, basking in pulling off such an accomplishment!"
"One scammer made the mistake of not just coming after me and my wife, but trying to get revenge on us when we didn’t fall for his scam. We had a Balinese hall table that we loved, but it was starting to take up too much room, so we decided to sell it off. This was back in the days when the first thing that came to mind when you wanted to sell something was eBay. So my wife listed it on eBay as a pick-up, cash on delivery item. My wife, who was pregnant with our second child at the time, was alone at home when the winning bidder showed up. She had been expecting a woman, but the person who showed up instead was a large man. The first sign that something was strange was that my wife didn’t see a vehicle parked anywhere nearby. We’re talking about someone who was supposed to be picking up a table, after all. There was no reason for him to get out of his vehicle in order to find our place. There was plenty of parking, and our driveway was empty. She suggested to the man that he park closer or in the driveway, but he indicated that he parked it at the opposite end of the street, and that was fine. The second strange thing was when he started ranting about how he didn’t want to buy the table, his wife bought it without asking his permission. And then he claimed not to know how much his wife had bid for it. This, despite the fact that he drove there to pay for a cash sale a couple of days later (not, unexpectedly, the same day). My wife told him it was $120. He put on a show of acting upset about the amount, flashed his wallet, and claimed he had only $100 on him. My wife told him where he could find the nearest ATM. He pointed and asked if that was the table behind her. She said 'yes', so he sort of pushed his way into the house, walked to the table, and began making a show of going, 'There’s a scratch! There’s a scratch!' while dramatically indicating random parts of the table with his hand. If you’re not familiar with Bali furniture, one of its charms is its rustic, homemade quality. It is never pristine, mass-produced, out of the factory. The ad had many photos to show its condition, including one of the only minor scratch in the table’s finish. Keep in mind that my wife was alone with this large man carrying on, acting angry, and forcing his way in. To her relief, he stepped outside again, and he began to demand that she sell it to him for $100 instead. Without bothering to say anything more to him, she shoved the door shut in his face and quickly locked everything.
When I got home, she told me what had happened. We went to check the listing, and there was an angry private message from the 'wife' about how awfully my wife abused her husband. My wife noted his wife wrote a lot like he spoke, but sent a message back explaining how the 'husband' behaved (although by then we were convinced the wife was possibly a fiction, a part of an 'angry husband' scam to talk down prices). Not long after, we got another message from the 'wife' demanding that we sell them the table for $100 or we would get a negative review. Now, to buyers and sellers on eBay, the threat of a negative review can be a method of blackmail and extortion. We turned them down. I began looking at the buyer’s history. It turns out he/they actually ran a store on eBay selling things like Balinese furniture (what a coincidence), Gucci handbags, and watches. Basically it was the same limited range of items over and over. I looked at the feedback he left other sellers. His negative feedback always accused the sellers of selling fake Gucci, or damaged Bali furniture. In some cases, I could find items he bought and claimed were fake that were sold again by him, via his eBay store, not long afterwards. But he listed them as the genuine article. You could match up most of what he bought with what he sold. I looked at the feedback he received as a buyer. I actually found a couple that gave him positive reviews for coming to arrangements with them despite 'problems' with their product. He’d give them positive reviews as sellers in return. This was clearly a scam artist buying from smaller sellers and using his larger store to sell the same items at a profit. To increase his profit, he would try to lie or blackmail people into charging less with claims their product was fake or damaged. If he had to pick up an item in person, he would additionally put into play his 'victim of a spendthrift wife without the correct cash amount' story. And he was so petty that when his scam didn’t work, he posted negative reviews. Maybe it was partly to send a message to others that he’d carry through. But no doubt a sense of entitlement was at play. His status as a conman confirmed, I suspect he deliberately parked his vehicle out of view of our house, so he could not be identified via his license plate, or be identified as a salesperson picking up multiple items in his truck.
Not surprisingly from what I saw, to add insult to injury, he did leave us negative feedback. At the time, eBay had recently changed it policy so that sellers could no longer leave feedback about buyers (one of many ways they’ve eroded their protections for sellers), but we were able to post a response to his feedback, where we called him out as a scammer. We made a complaint to eBay, giving them the background and directing them to evidence that he was a scammer. At first they refused to do anything about it, not even deleting his negative feedback. But he shot himself in the foot a bit: His negative feedback for us indicated that he tried to renegotiate prices with us. I pointed out that, in his own words, he directly violated eBay rules against trying to haggle down prices after bidding ended. eBay agreed and removed his negative feedback and refunded us the listing costs. But that’s the full extent of what they did. The man who burst into our home, frightened my pregnant wife, and clearly committed multiple acts of fraud, was still free to operate on eBay. And other innocent sellers were still left with things like feedback falsely accusing them of selling knock-offs and fakes. Imagine you’re trying to make a living, and eBay flashes all over the internet that your products are fake. That’s called 'libel', and it can be damaging. Now I’m sure that despite the fact that the scam was working to eBay's profit — they would get their percentage of the full sales price of the product not once, but twice thanks to his activities — I’m sure their motivation to sit back and do nothing was PURE squeaky clean innocence. Now, one way to tick me off is to frighten my pregnant wife. We began contacting as many of his victims as we could and suggested they complain to eBay so they wouldn’t be able to ignore the pattern of his behavior. I continued to monitor the scammer’s store for a while and contacted any new buyers or sellers of his to forewarn of his tactics, as well as suggest they report to eBay if he tried pulling the same scams with them. Finally, after a few months of the guy’s store remaining active, I noticed that it was finally shut down.
For me and my wife; however, the damage had been done. My wife was too frightened to sell items for pick-up to anonymous people on eBay anymore. After all, what if the prick who pushed his way into our house had been someone violent instead of a scam artist trying to frighten women? And we were starting to have too many experiences as both buyers and sellers where eBay failed to protect us. As far as we were concerned, their service was quickly eroding. For the past several years we’ve used eBay only rarely, and only as buyers."
"I did get a kick out of this because it actually caused the tele-marketer to actually shut his mouth for a mili second. I still have a landline. I still like it for talking to my mom and to a few others, so I keep it in my phone service bundle. BUT the amount of calls I get despite having signed onto every government Do Not Call list is far too much. I rarely pick up, unless I check Caller ID. If I don’t have my glasses on, then I'm liable to pick the phone up for anyone. This telemarketer was like rapid-fire talking. I try to always be polite, but man are they trained to try to get you from every possible angle. It was unbelievable. This guy kept trying to sell me a new roof, or at least have one of ‘their men who will be in the area” to go up and take a look at it. Seriously, never respond to this. You are opening yourself up to a whole can of crazy if someone actually shows up. So I said that my neighbor across the street does roofs for a living, and that’s where I will go, so don’t need to waste your time nor you waste mine. I was about to hang up, but he was off and running with some other question, and I said, ‘Look, I already answered you, and I’m in the middle of fixing dinner, so once more goodbye!'
Then this man told me I could multi-task, listening to him talk while I work on dinner. I agreed that I could multi-task well, specifically to fix my dinner and hang up the phone. As I put the receiver on the cradle, I could still hear him blathering on about something. Those poor people. How do they ever get in the position that cold calling people will actually help anyone?! God bless him, but I'm not buying a stupid roof from some sketchy telemarketing man! Those poor people - how do they ever get in the position of needing and thinking that that sort of job will be worth anything? God bless him but I’m not buying a stupid roof from him or any other tele-marketer! If any telemarketers are reading this, God bless you, but get a different line of work."
"I got a message from someone from high school a few weeks ago, simply saying hello. My first thought was that she didn't seem like the Pyramid Scheme type, but I was curious enough to go further. I honestly expected her to give me a sales pitch, which I would turn down, and then we would carry on with our lives. So I messaged her back asking what's up? 'Am cool and you?' At that point, I knew I wasn't talking to who I originally thought. I met this girl in AP classes in high school, and she was very smart and well-spoken. That was not how she talks at all. However, since this person was impersonating someone I knew, I wanted to dig in a little bit. I told her I was pretty good, but she merely repeated her pervious messages. I felt stuck, not knowing what to say, but then she finally messaged, 'That reminds me, I was wondering if you participate in UN Health and Human Service benefits?'
Okay, here we go. I hadn't come across a UN Health and Human Service anything. I googled it and found nothing. She told me, 'It's from the federal government. Many people haven't heard of it.'
Once I received that message, I set my phone down and laughed. It felt like Christmas. You mean this is a CASH benefit program? I'm a social work major and spend a lot of time in particular studying local resources. There aren't just cash benefit programs, and if there were, the communities they would be implemented in would be in an uproar. And the federal government is handing out CASH, and lots of people haven't heard of it? I now know I have to keep pushing this, because this was my confirmation that this is a scam. I asked what it did. The former classmate messaged, 'It provides federal assistance to needy families and even individuals in many states. The funny thing is if you don't claim yours, it will go back to the government.'
That's not even kind of how this works. The IRS doesn't review every single citizen's taxes to see if they qualify for social services and then set aside money for resources for them. No one has time for that. If you need help and want it, that's 100% on you. No money goes back to the government if people don't claim potential resources. 'Okay. But is the money designated for anyone specific, like WIC?' I wanted to see what this individual would do after I threw a curveball at them. I sat for the next ten minutes and watch as the typing symbol came and went.
'It is just like WIC. But the money belongs to you If you apply and you qualify. One thing about this program is that you do not have to pay it back!'
Fascinating selling point, considering you don't have to pay most welfare programs, like WIC, back. But whatever. She explained how to apply. I had to call an agent, and they would walk me through it, then she sent me a name and number. You NEVER apply for a welfare program over the phone. Most programs require the Social Security cards of everyone in the household, 6-12 months of proof of income, proof of residency, and proof of citizenship. Because of the sensitive nature of this information, the application process is always done in an office. So they wanted me to call and give proof of residency, Social Security, information about my employment, and probably my bank info since this is supposedly a cash program, and that was all to be done over the phone? But I finally had identifying information, and now I know how to file a report with the FBI!"
"There was a season during the '90s when the phone was ringing off the hook at my dad’s house, with salesmen wanting to sell the homeowner windows, carpeting, roofing, siding, or heating/cooling. My dad, like myself, has a memory for trivial things. It became a game for my dad to keep track of the salesmen. The first time a company would call, my dad would simply tell them he wasn’t interested, and to please take him off their calling list. The second time they called, he would serenade the caller with obnoxious songs he made up. If the company was persistent enough to call again, my dad would go ahead and schedule a consultation for an estimate.
Now, by no means was my dad worn down by their persistent calling. He was retired, bored, and he had a streak of orneriness to his character. My dad had recently built an 8ft x 8ft shed in the yard to store my mom’s bike and lawnmower. My mom liked the little shed so much she started to fix it up, like a little fort. My dad then built a second shed to house the original items. My mom had made a makeshift bed in the shed and had a few crates for chairs and tables. The walls had been decorated with pictures that came out of magazines. Mom even had the camp stove with percolator set-up out there in the shed, so that she could make coffee. Dad paid mom to paint a sign on the door to ward off moochers: NO TOOLS, PHONE, MONEY TO LOAN, RIDES TO GIVE.
This fine shed was all the inspiration my dad needed. On the day of the scheduled appointments with the persistent salespeople, dad would sit outside the shed in the shade drinking his coffee. The salesperson would arrive. My dad would offer them a cup of coffee while refilling his own from the percolator. If they said 'yes' to the coffee, dad would hand them an elegant, clean soup can full of coffee. He would chat up the salesperson about how excited he was about the project. They would say, 'Well, Mr. Johnston, why don’t we get some measurements then, I can give you an estimate,!' or whatever salesperson would say while walking towards the house.
'Oh, that’s not my house; this is my house' my dad would seriously say while gesturing at the shed. My dad would keep very sincere to his role of how he couldn’t wait to make the upgrades to his little house. My dad had a stack of bids for all kinds of upgrades to the little shed for carpeting, siding, windows, heat/cooling, and roofing. My dad would laugh for many years over the idea of 'customizing' the shed.
"Mine wasn’t over the phone or computer. Mine was face to face. I was dating a guy named Mike. We had been going out about three months. Nothing heavy, just nice to hang around with and talk to. His brother was coming to visit him from Pennsylvania (we were in Oklahoma), and then the brother would be going to Colorado. He was going there to hunt for gold apparently! Mike explained there are still natural springs in the mountains where gold could be found. He would sure like to go with him. Would I mind if he did? I said no, if you feel like it, then you should go. Myself, I thought it was a stupid dream. But I wasn’t in totally love with the guy and had no right (or interest) in telling him not to go. Life went on, and we continued to date. Two months later, when he was about to leave, he asked me, 'Now when I go to Colorado, how much money are you going to be able to send me for living expenses?'
Money? Send you? I’m not giving you any money to go to Colorado! Mike was dumbfounded, reminding me how I agreed he could leave. I told him, 'Yes I did, because I have no right to tell you not to. But we aren’t married, we aren’t engaged, and really we aren’t even in love, so why should I give you money?!'
So I dashed his dreams. But I guess he thought all he had to do was throw out the 'love' word and the bank would open. Couple of days later and he was in love! That’s when I realized what an idiot he was and what an idiot he thought I was. Not Happening!"
"When my mom passed away, I was to make sure that all her affairs were put in order. I contacted all her credit card companies and got the address to send the death certificate, to make sure the accounts were closed properly. Then I got a phone call from one of the credit card companies. They offered me her account to be put in my name at 50% of the event due. I asked why I would take her account at 50% of the amount due, and the girl said, 'Well, some people don’t have credit, and they would be happy to get a credit card.'
I told her I was not interested, and that I did not want the credit card. She asked me if I can I pay the balance of the account, but I told her no, it was not my debt, and my mother died with no money. She asked if there were anybody else that would be able to pay for the account, like siblings. I said my siblings and I had to pay to bury my mother, and we are not paying her bills that are not our responsibility. She said if we would morally take care of our mother and bury her, then why couldn’t we morally take care of her debts. At this point I was infuriated, and I said if she had a pencil and paper to write down this phone number, because I had somebody she could reach. She said yes, and she asked me what the number was. I told her to call 1–800- heaven and ask for my mother, and then proceeded to hang up! Trying to scam someone whose mother has just passed away is not going to happen with this girl! Do not let anyone tell you that you are responsible for someone else’s debt if there is no money!"
"This happened to me only a few weeks ago! I was at home doing some work on my laptop when my phone rang. I usually don’t bother answering numbers I don’t recognize, but on this occasion I decided to do so. As I answered, there was a recorded message which told me to hold the line, as it was the tax office and I owed money. Apparently I needed to have my credit card on hand, and if I don’t pay the agent, then I face being arrested. I know I don’t owe anything, so game on. There’s all sorts of scams going around of this nature, so I’m ready for it. Some guy eventually answers, who clearly is based in some call center, and from his strong accent and bad pronunciation, English is not his first language. I can hear people in the background being quite aggressive with other callers, demanding money from them. He tells me that I owe taxes and I’m in trouble, so I need to pay him some stupid amount of money. Otherwise, he will send the police around to arrest me, as non-payment of tax is a serious crime and I can be sent to jail for it. He demands that I tell him my name. But he called me, how does he not know who I am? I ask him his name, and he starts repeating himself about how I'm going to be arrested, since I'm apparently a criminal. I wait until he has finished and paused, clearly waiting for me to panic and beg him to make it all go away. I ask him again for his name. He asks me why I want to know. I explain that if I’m about to hand over my credit card details, then I would at least like to know who I’m speaking to. He literally tells me that his name is 'Officer Joe Schmoe'. I ask him what tax office he is calling me from. He again questions why I want to know, so I tell him that he is asking for my payment details, so I want to make sure that he is calling me from a reputable tax office, so my bill is properly settled. He tells me some incomprehensible name. It sounded like he was muttering his answer. I told him to hold the line one second while I check on some things. 'What checks?' he demands, 'You owe us money! Confirm your name and give me your credit card details, as the police are on their way, but I can stop them if you pay me now!'
'But you know who I am,' I insist. 'You rang me on my business line, so I’m just running some checks on your number.'
'What checks?' He asks, suddenly sounding a bit concerned.
'Well,' I explain, 'You rang me, so you know who I am and where I work. As such, you will know from the number you’ve called that you have rang a Government Office, and that I am a Government Employee, who works in the Criminal Investigations department. I’m just looking at our staff database now, as I have access to the records of every member of staff who works for all departments, including the tax office. I would like you to confirm your details, as I must have misheard you. I’m fairly sure we don’t have an Officer Joe Schmoe, nor do we have an office in wherever you mentioned. Or this could just be a scam to extort money out of me, so to be on the safe side, I’m just setting a trace onto your line. If it is a scam, then my colleagues in the Criminal Investigations Department would like to come pay you a visit.'
I heard him start to swear as the line went dead. It was beyond satisfying to tell him all of that!"