Thursday, March 13, 2008

Con Artists' Newest Trick: Make Victims Part of the Scam--Are You Included?

--Have these Con Artists come up with the Perfect Scam? Here's how it is Put Together

Magalia, California--When in doubt, make your victims part of the crime. This appears to be the newest strategy of con artists. Their rationale? Seemingly it is: Why not? Can one think of a better way to buy silence?

It works this way:

Innocent shopper spots a high-end, expensive item on an internet site, a lap top computer which retails for $3,000. Seller offers to sell for $1,300. Upon getting inquiry from innocent shopper, seller (read, con artist) offers to ship the lap top, no questions asked. No upfront money is required either--only a promise to return it, or wire payment within 48 hours.

Too good to be true?

No. Not quite. Ignorance is no excuse; it's the real thing, it's said. Here's what happens next:

Using the home address and the information provided by innocent shopper, con man, using a stolen credit card number, orders the lap top at the full $3,000 retail price and has it drop-shipped, directly to innocent shopper.

No one is listening till you make a mistake, it so often seems. Innocent shopper, happy with the product, wires $1,300 payment, leaving himself the receiver of stolen property. In addition, another anonymous victim has a fraudulent charge on his / her credit card. And, a merchant has delivered stolen goods.

One product. Repeat orders to fill. Inclusion of everybody involved in the scam itself. What could be sweeter than this for the con artist? The FBI and several European police authorities currently have their hands full trying to crack down on this near-foolproof scam. Trouble they are having is getting enough innocent victims to come forward.

"If you want something to validate your inherent mistrust of strangers, this should be it," says legal thriller author, Jack Payne. "Al Capone's business card said he was a used furniture dealer. Something like this should be the first clue."

25 comments:

Bern said...

I hear this inclusion of suckers play is taking hold in Europe. Now in America too? Clever indeed.

Warren M said...

That sure is passing the crime residue around to stain all hands.

ione Hesber said...

My daughter got caught up in one of these for an expensive music system for half price. It turned out that the system was shipped to her as stolen goods. Oh this took such a long time to get straightened out, it nearly drove me crazy before it was over.

McAlee said...

I hear the involve everybody wave is sweeping Europe.

Jack Payne said...

I understand this sort of involve-everybody scam is widespread in Eurpoe, and has authorities there really worried. I hear even Interpol is getting into this act.

theoffendedblogger said...

This one is so simple it's scary!

Warmer said...

I believe Offended Blogger is right. It's the simplicity of this kind of thing that is frightening. Who to believe anymore? You just don't know who to trust to do business with at all.

Robert Cyr said...

Hey Jack! Interesting read and to find out you live not too far from me (Chico). Here is a topic for your Blog: Internet/Wire Fraud rampant among Surplus Merchandise Brokers. We should talk seriously about my experience in evaluating "Kitchen-Table", "Pajama Wearing" Con Artists defrauding millions of dollars annually misrepresenting closeout and salvage merchandise. Maybe a blog interview....

Tamera Daun said...

I saw a program not too long ago about this. Like exposedblogger said, so simple it's scary. The chaos created, is enormous!!!

Ariel J said...

I am not like you, Ione...but a friend's daughter got into exactly the same kind of trouble over the exact same kind of thing, a music system. Her mother was so upset over all the innuendos thrown at her seventeen year old daughter. Like what are you trying to pull...that sort of talk...that she cried her eyes out many times.

Jack Payne said...

Chelle, Warmer, and Tamera, yes, the ease of such shenanigans is the part of these scams that should scare the livin' bejeepers out of you. So easy to pull off. Just get everybody involved, and everybody will just shut up. That's the intent. About the only way you can protect yourself for the time being is to stay local on all big ticket items. This way you can more easily check credentials, and get credible reference and recommendation information.

It's heartbreaking, Ione and Ariel, when these scum bags involve innocent kids--teeagers, whose lives are just forming around the foundations of right and wrong, honesty and sleeze, the good, bad, and ugly. My heart goes out to any parent--along with the kid involved, of course--who has to go through mental trauma such as this.

Robert, I love your characterization, "Pajama wearing, kitchen table con artists." That's exactly what many of these people are.

Brandi Magill said...

If that's not an eye opener I don't know what is. Thanks for sharing!

Dee said...

Jack as usual you keep us up to date on the latest swindles being pulled by these crooks. There is a similar work at home scam going around involving stolen goods. Some things look too good to be true.

poplawski said...

My son goes through your archives every day and gets all A's in his business classes in college. So I dug too in order to see what he sees. Now I think if I went back to college I also would get all A's in business.

Jack Payne said...

You two, Brandi and Dee, picked up instantly, and completely, on the essence of this approach to modern-day scamming. I'm proud of you.

Thanks, Poplawski. It's good to hear that my stuff is playing some role in the enlightenment of your son as to the beneath-the-surface rumblings in modern-day business. If you, yourself, go back to college and get a B.A. degree, send me a photocopy, will you?

Kevin Goodman said...

Jack, this is an interesting post because I believe we may have been close to buying into such a scam only two weeks ago. My wife is a professional photographer and designer and she seen a cannon 5D camera on xxxxx for only 1,000.00, supposedly brand new (a hard buy for a photographer to pass on)– it sells for 3,000-4,000. Fortunately my inability to understand why the seller couldn’t just return the item had us pass. The seller claimed he purchased it only two weeks prior spur of the moment and then he couldn’t afford and was therefore taking a two thousand loss. Perhaps he was but after reading this post you got to wonder.

FLOOG said...

What an amazing eye opener! So sad that these days we have to be so very aware of the possible scams which surround and potentially involve us in everyday life.

So little trust in the world, and no wonder why. Thanks Jack, I've learned something new from you once again

Phil Ellis said...

I followed this link over from BlogCatalog. This is a great read! Thank you very much for this interesting information. I will be a regular reader. Again, thanks.

Phil Ellis
www.divesportsblog.com

Oscar said...

intersting one, and i thought i heard it all, think i need to read more of your posts.by the way, Al Capone also sold used furniture?

Jack Payne said...

No, Oscar, Al Cappone never sold used furniture. His business card, saying he did, was nothing more than a thumbed- nose-in-your-face ruse.

RainforestRobin said...

Boy, this story is even wilder than the last one I just read. These scams are quite sophisticated and yet so simple. Phew! Why don't they just get a job? Less hassle. :) :) And yet it has to be a nightmare for the innocent victims that fall prey to these scams. That's why it good you educate us all. Thank you.

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