It’s pretty easy to figure out when somebody’s trying to scam you. Most of us usually just hang up the phone…but not these folks! These people reveal the times they flipped the script and out scammed a scammer.
Wow! A New Mercedes For $1,000?!
“My dad gets these crazy calls from time to time from people promising him money or gifts. They always need something beforehand, and all he has to do is give them his credit card number or wire them money.
One day he got a call out of the blue from some guy claiming he had won a brand new Mercedes of some sort. The car belonged to my dad, all they needed was $1,000 for the tax, tag and paperwork, and the car would be there by noon.
Well my dad is no fool, and this was a pretty obvious scam, so he decided to mess with the guy. He was so excited about his new car, and he was going out right then to wire the money.
Of course, he never went. A few hours later the guy called back. Where was the money? My dad insisted he had sent it, and he called out a false tracking number. He assured the guy the money would be there any minute, and when asked about his car. The guy assured him it was on its way, but it was coming all the way from Atlanta, so he had to be patient.
An hour later the guy called yet again. Still no money and he was getting irritated. Dad said he was calling Western Union to find out where the transfer was.
An hour later another call came. Dad gave the guy a new tracking number that they tried to pull up online. No such luck. Suddenly, my dad started screaming and hollering because his ‘brand new Mercedes’ was there, just pulling into the driveway. He proceeds to go outside, and get in his own car slamming the doors, and cranking the engine as he raved about how great the Mercedes was.
The guy on the other end was totally perplexed. What the heck was dad talking about? At that point, he dropped the charade and started chewing the guy out. He told him that they should be ashamed for trying to take advantage of seniors.
‘Just how stupid do you think I am?’ He demanded. ‘Do people really fall for this stuff?’
The guy actually laughed and told him that he would be surprised at how stupid some people were. He hung up then, and I had to listen to my dad rant for the rest of the day. Still, it was rather funny.”
Does Anybody Hear Sirens?
“When I was in college, my college boyfriend was an artist and photographer. My landline was always getting strange, annoying phone calls. It turned out that my landline was previously owned by a sign painting company. One day, my entrepreneur mind came up with an idea. Instead of being annoyed by all the requests for sign painting, why not fulfill those requests? Soon, Frank and I were joint partners in a sign painting business. And it went well. People liked his creative, artistic signs!
Except for Jerry. Jerry was the owner of a new hair/nail/facial/pedicure salon in town. Frank had spent two long weeks painstakingly creating that beautiful sign for Jerry, but Jerry wasn’t pleased.
‘I don’t like it, so I don’t have to pay for it,’ Jerry announced with his arms folded across his chest. A few days later, we noticed that Jerry had hung and was using the sign! It was time for a plan.
I called up two of my girlfriends. I then phoned Jerry’s salon (Jerry had never met me; he had only dealt with Frank.)
That Saturday, my girlfriends and I entered Jerry’s salon and got the works – nails done, pedicures, hair dyed, washed, styled, and cut. The final hefty bill for the three of us came to a little more than what the sign was worth. Jerry had worked on us all day.
Jerry looked on with pleasure at the three of us as I phoned Frank, our ride, who had the full payment with him, I had informed Jerry.
The three of us nervously waited by the front window near the sign that Jerry ‘did not like.’ Soon, Frank pulled up to the curb and walked in. He quickly scanned the three of us head-to-toe.
Then he turned and looked at Jerry, who didn’t seem to recognize him up until that fateful moment.
‘Well, Jerry, I don’t like it. So, I don’t have to pay for it.’
On that note, Frank signaled all three of us to enter his car.
‘Come on, girls, let’s go!’
We quickly rushed into Frank’s car, leaving Jerry alone in his salon, stunned and speechless. We were howling in laughter as we drove back to my home in thick traffic.
‘Did you see that look on his face!!!!?’
‘Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!!’
I swear we laughed for the entire day. A few minutes later, there was a cop behind us, flashing his lights, with his siren screaming, commanding us to pull over to the right curb.
After hearing our story, and concealing his budding smile, he replied, ‘Well, this is a civil matter. You need to go to small claims court to obtain the money for the sign. I will also inform the salon owner to do the same.’
We re-entered traffic and howled all the way home. We kept checking the mail every day to see if Jerry was taking us to small claims court.
The Royal Bank of Canada
“Some years ago I was selling my old PS2 on eBay, along with a bunch of games. It didn’t sell the first time around. As I was about to relist, I got an email. It was apparently an African Pastor who said he wanted it for his orphanage. Of course, he couldn’t use PayPal because of reasons, but he was willing to use an escrow service (that he chose, obviously), and would even give me 20 bucks over asking for my trouble.
I smelled a rat right away, obviously, but I figured I would have some fun. I told him I would be happy to help out the poor African orphans. In the meantime, I relisted and sold the PS2.
He sent me another email in which he praised my charitable spirit, and said to wait for further instructions. A couple of days later, I got an email from the Royal Bank of Canada with an escrow certificate attached. I pulled up the email headers and quickly discovered that the RBC had apparently fallen on hard times, and was now operating out of Nigeria using one of their local ISPs. I traced the IP address back to an Internet Cafe in Lagos.
Just a few hours later, another email from my friend showed up. It was a pre-printed UPS label. He said to go ahead and send the PS2, and he would release the escrow as soon as it arrived. I said sure.
I got an old cardboard box out of the garage and filled it up with gravel and the remains of a crushed cinder block. It probably weighed about 35 pounds. Slapped the label on the box and had UPS come and pick it up.
My Pastor friend emailed me a few days later. He seemed very upset, for some reason. Apparently, UPS had charged him about $40 for a box of gravel sent via 2-day shipping. I replied with all the IP addresses I had gathered, along with the name of the ISP and the Internet Cafe. I also informed him that I had sent the details of the UPS shipping account to the FBI (a lie, of course).
I thought that would be the end of it. But, lo and behold, yet another email from my Nigerian pen-pal. He was very contrite and stated that he had seen the light and was now planning to go straight and to please not contact the authorities. I just responded with ‘too late’.
That was the last I ever heard from him.”
The Story of “Info McLovin”
“I managed our ‘info’ account at a previous job. It was the email address visible on our website and occasionally received general inquiries or emails for someone in our company if the address wasn’t known. It was also the account that received most of our spam.
One day the account received a scam email, saying that inheritance was owed to the person named ‘Info’ at this account. I sarcastically responded ‘Oh, did my favorite aunt die and leave her fortune for her dear nephew Info?’
To my surprise the scammer responded, addressing me as Info and explaining that it was not my aunt, but that there was an unclaimed inheritance that I was eligible to collect. Astounded that this person believed my name was ‘Info’, I also became very curious as to how the scam worked. At what point would I be asked for money?
So I continued our correspondence. The man, Robert Gavin (some emails were signed Gavin Robert), was a solicitor. He had a few fake documents, such as a driver’s license and registered business number. He kept me going for several weeks, telling me about the legal motions he was filing, and the waiting periods that would have to occur. I kept writing back as ‘Info’, a poor but earnest young man working his way through college.
When my ‘money’ was almost ready, he told me he’d need to see some ID to fill out some final forms. Seeing as he already thought my name was Info, my estimation of his intelligence was not high. I sent him a picture of the ‘McLovin’ driver’s license from Superbad. To my surprise he didn’t question this at all, his only objection was that my driver’s license was expired, Superbad having come out many years ago at this point.
Now operating under the name ‘Info McLovin’, I was willing to put in a bit more effort. I photoshopped a fake ID with the name Info McLovin, and even put together a phony resume. My cover was almost blown when I left my address as ‘123 Fake Street’, but I managed to convince him that was a leftover from the template and I had forgotten to change it. I listed my address as a local head shop, and my phone number to a fraud hotline.
None of this clued the guy in that Info McLovin was not entirely on the up and up. Finally, after about 4 weeks of correspondence, he asked me for money. Part of the rules about inheritance in the UK (he claimed) was that he had to run an ad in the newspapers for a month to see if any relatives claimed the inheritance before it could pass on to me.
My original question, ‘Where does the scam come in?’ was answered, but I wasn’t ready for the saga of Info Mclovin to end. I began putting off his request for money, saying that I couldn’t afford it. I tried offering him a huge sum of money. Since I was going to inherit about 12 million pounds, I’d give him 1 million after the fact if he’d just cover the cost of the newspaper ad. That wasn’t possible, sadly.
I tried deflecting him by expressing doubts about his credentials, enraging him into asking if Info Mclovin had ever gone to high school. Finally, after six weeks of back-and-forth emails, I couldn’t string him along with anymore and he was about to give up on me, so I told him the truth and sent him a link to the Mclovin fake ID scene from Superbad.
Robert Gavin (Gavin Robert) informed me in all caps that I was a ‘looser’, and the saga of Info McLovin ended.”
Some Chilling Words From A Scammer
“I got a phone call from a person claiming to represent the US Government. He wanted to speak to my (adult) daughter, but I was suspicious and asked him for details. He said that she had missed jury duty, and was about to be arrested, but if we acted quickly, we could avert the damage.
I told him that I wanted to protect her, and that, if possible, it would be best if she never even learned about the problem. What could I do? He said that for a $500 fee, they could expedite a document that would avoid all prosecution. I said, ‘I would do that; how do we proceed?’ He said we could meet at a local CVS Pharmacy; he would bring the forms, I could sign them, and he would file them. But he had to get the funds in cash, not a cheque or credit card.
I agreed to do this, but (I said) I needed to have his cell phone number so I could find him. He was reluctant, but I insisted. He handed his phone over to his boss. I was so sincere, and so compliant, that he met my request, and gave me the cell phone number.
I then told the man that I was reporting the scam, and that his cell phone number would soon be inoperative. If it is possible for them to trace who had bought it, then he would be in even deeper trouble.
He got very upset with me. He asked me if I was a psychologist. (That’s because my counter-scam had seemed professional to him.) We chatted for about ten minutes. I told him that his scam was unfair and harmful. He responded by saying that he only took money from people who had cheated the government. I suggested that he get a better job. He said he had tried, but six months ago he had been released from prison, and all prospective employers had turned him down.
He finished with some chilling words: ‘You realize, of course, that I know where you live.’”
A Little Snooping Goes A Long Way
“I sold a car on credit to a guy who never made a payment.
He declared bankruptcy the day after he bought it, which meant I couldn’t repossess it until the court lifted the stay — a process that took months. This was his plan all along.
By the time I could legally take it back, he had moved.
I had his driver’s license picture, so I made some 11 X 17 yellow ‘wanted’ posters with his picture, and offered a $100 reward for information about the car. I posted this on the community mailbox in his expensive neighborhood to maximize the embarrassment.
I was obsessed with this prick, so every day, I drove to the neighborhood and every day, the posters were gone. I figured his kid was still attending the same school, even though he had moved, and that’s why he was in the area each day to rip down the posters.
The next school day, he showed up at 3:30, but not in my car. I tried to follow him home, but he spotted me and started driving like a maniac with his kid in the car. I stopped because it was too dangerous of a situation.
I had originally put up the reward posters to provoke him, hoping he’d show up to kick my butt and I could grab the car.
But then, I got a phone call one night from his former neighbor, seeking a reward. ‘He was over here getting his mail, and his little girl told me they had moved to a new apartment complex called ‘XYZ,’ said the neighbor.
I called a wrecker, and we went and picked it up. While we were there, I noticed that his other car was nearby. I figured that if he scammed me, he probably did the same to some other dealer.
I checked the lien holder info, called the dealer, and he said that he had, indeed, been looking for the car for a year.
I called a second wrecker, and when both the cars were on the hook, I started blowing the horn.
He came outside, just in time to see me wave as his cars slowly rolled away.
I sent the guy who caught him the $100 the next day.”
Who Doesn’t Love A Little Magic?
“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.
Date turned out to be a rather dull person though…”
Wasting Their Time
This one was the call from a phony Msoft engineer about some malware on my computer.
He directed me to press certain keys.
I responded that the malware had frozen my computer – no response to key presses or mouse movements. I was totally sincere in my tone of voice, pretending as if the condition I was describing was really true.
For the next five minutes, he tried telling me various ways to restart the computer.
I replied that no matter what I tried, the system stayed powered up, but was frozen.
He told me finally to pull out the power cord.
I said that I did, but the system was still powered up.
‘How can that be?’ he asked.
‘Running on the battery, I guess,’ was my reply.
He believed me, and ‘escalated’ the call. The above conversation was repeated until they finally just hung up.
I called back, saying we had been cut off. I repeated my problem about powered but frozen and led the new ‘technician’ down the same garden path as the first one. They terminated the call, and I called back.
For the next new tech, I repeated as above.
In the space of an hour, I had gone through about 5 technicians.
They Roll Out the Reinforcements:
At last, I was transferred to the ‘manager,’ who warned me about playing games with them.
‘I’m not playing games!’ I said. ‘You guys know I’m not because you called ME, right? You know there is something wrong, here. I’m telling you this system is locked up and I need help.’
They switched tactics, now offering to sell me a service plan: One-time fix, annual contract, or lifetime contract. All are priced accordingly.
I opted for the one-time fix.
And he began the upsell process, which went on for 15 minutes. At last, I chose the lifetime plan ($1,500).
By now, about 90 minutes have elapsed since first contact.
But How to Pay?
Having chosen the expensive plan, the manager now asked for credit card information.
I said I didn’t use credit cards, but that I could send a check.
He suggested a wire transfer and asked for my routing information.
I said I hoped he understood that I never told people that information, and suggested we use PayPal instead. ‘You do take PayPal, don’t you?’ I asked.
He said no.
My Microsoft Premium Support Plan:
And that’s when I said I had a paid premium support plan with Microsoft, and asked why that plan wouldn’t cover the fix.
In a lengthy explanation, he said the plan didn’t cover malware problems.
Now two hours had passed.
I could tell the manager was frustrated, running out of options. But owing to my utter sincerity, he was hanging in with me.
Then I interrupted: ‘Hey! You did it! It’s working! This is fantastic! How did you do it?!’
Manager: ‘But I didn’t do anything! We aren’t even connected to you…’
Me: ‘Well, you obviously did something. The system is running faster than ever. This is great!’
Manager (angry): ‘No, we did nothing! This is just part of the malware behavior, your system will crash and nothing will fix it.’
Me: ‘Wait, wait! (I make key tapping noises). Really, it will crash? So why is it running so well?’
Manager: ‘That’s how the malware works. It is giving you a false sense of security while it is deleting files and corrupting your data…’
Me: ‘Hold on! I just finished running a malware scan. The system is clean. No issues found. This is fantastic! Thank you!’
Manager: ‘But I guarantee it will fail. This is just temporary.’
Me: ‘Hold on. (more clicking noises). But how can you be so sure if you are not connected?’
Manager: ‘We just know from experience.’
Me: ‘I just powered down and started up again. Everything is perfect! OK, look, I want to pay you for this. Where can I send a check, what is your address?’
Manager: ‘We can’t accept payment like that.’
Me: ‘Sure you can. I’ll make it to you personally. What’s your name and address?’
Total time: about two and a half hours. Six ‘technicians’ and one ‘manager’ burned.
I commend this approach to anyone else who receives the same scam attempt.”
“As an adult entertainment worker, I almost always got paid in cash.
But once in a while, clients would ask me for different options, since they didn’t have cash with them.
One time, I got booked in a nearby town. Usually, when I traveled, I required a 50% deposit, which clients paid by sending me the money through PayPal.
The client that I was meeting with sent me the deposit, booked a hotel, and everything was set.
I went to where I was supposed to, checked in, and waited for him. He arrived and wanted to send the remaining money through PayPal as well. I didn’t think that it was going to be a problem, so I agreed.
After I received the money, I provided the service and he left. A few hours later, I receive an e-mail that he complained to PayPal that it wasn’t him who initiated the payment, but somebody (me) had hacked into his PayPal and did it. PayPal blocked the amount and opened an investigation.
I was really, really ticked off. What kind of person would do that? Why would he take advantage of me being flexible so that he could pay more easily?
So, this is what happened. I remembered that he had booked the hotel under my name. I figured that the hotel might have some paperwork that would somehow link him to me.
I went there and, yes, they had the receipt. It clearly included his name, his credit card number (first six and last four digits), and my name as the hotel guest. I was just about to leave when the lady at the reception desk asked me if I want to spend a few more days at the hotel at a special rate or something. She said that I didn’t need to check in as usual because they already had everything they needed, including ‘my credit card.’ A devious smile appeared on my face. I took the room for three days and paid it with the sucker’s credit card on file. It cost $170 per night. Breakfast included.
When I got to the room, I took a picture of the receipt and sent it to PayPal, clearly explaining that on the same day, this person booked a hotel for me. I also sent email screenshots of us arranging to meet. Luckily for me, the e-mail he used for PayPal matched the one my client had used when he was communicating with me. In one of the emails, he even had attached a screenshot of the first payment he made to me, clearly demonstrating his intent (and his satisfaction) that he paid.
Twelve days later, PayPal unblocked the money and I withdrew it.”