Best Scams: Tales from the Dark Side

  • Thread starter Ivan Seeking
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In summary: Needless to say, many people fell for this, and ended up sending in thousands of dollars.In summary, a scam is when someone tries to take your money without giving you anything in return. This example describes a change raising scam where a person asks for change multiple times until they get enough money to buy something.
  • #1
Ivan Seeking
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What are the best scams that you've heard about or fell for? I must admit that I've been had once; about ten years ago.

We received this letter telling us that we had won a lottery of some sort. At the time we often filled out contest forms and such, so the idea that we had actually won something was plausible. We didn't recognize the name of the company but that was also reasonable since we had sent in so many of these things.

As nearly as I can remember: The letter said that we had won and something like $120,000 was to be dispersed - not a staggering amount of money so again it seemed reasonable. It said that we were guaranteed winners. This is not a scam; we had already won. I read this thing about fifty times and could not find any way that this was a trick. It seemed to me that either we had really won $120,000 or the company was into some serious fraud. In fact, and this is what got me, it said: The dispersement of the $120,000 is guaranteed. This is not a trick.. Also, I checked and the company existed and the address was good.

So, here's the part where I get all red in the face. It said that we had to send in $5.00 for processing fees. The letter went into all sorts of detail about how they just manage the contest, and shipping and handling fees must be paid by the contestants. So, even though I knew better, it was only five bucks so I let them reel me in. I sent the $5.00.

When some months later we hadn't received any money, and my numerous phone messages had gone unanswered, I sent the company a threatening letter. About a week or two later we got a check in the mail!

It was for $1.26, IIRC. There were 90,000 winners.
90,000 X [5.00 - 1.26 - postage] = ~ $315,000. Not a bad deal.
 
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  • #2
One I heard about a while back. Two con artists are in a bar, pretending not to know each other. One of them acts like a loud, annoying drunk, and through various means, systematically annoys everyone in the bar, and makes very sure he is not liked. At this point, he goes and starts up a conversation with his partner. As it progresses, the two start to loudly debate the bible, so that everyone can hear easily. The drunk man insists that no it was not Delila that cut off Samson's hair, it was someone different. He then announces a bet to the whole bar that it wasn't Delila. With a bit of encouragement, a few people will join in this bet, because the man is obviously drunk and doesn't know what he's talking about, and plus they really don't like the man so they'd love to see him put in his place. Once this bet is agreed upon, he will produce a bible, and point to the passage in which it states Delila sent her servant to do it.
D'oh!
Money is handed over, man walks out, followed shortly by his partner. They both walk away considerably richer.
 
  • #3
Advert in the back of a newspaper advertising 2 pairs of trousers for £4.00. Loads of people fill in the form and send off the cheques, specifying colour and size. 'Company' just banks the money, and never sends out any trousers. Company ignores all letters asking about trousers. If ever they get any letters threatening legal action, they just go out to Marks & Spencers, buy a couple of pairs of trousers and post them! Most people just forget about it, - after all, it was only £4!
 
  • #4
When I was 15 I worked as a cashier in a grocery store and had someone do a change raising scam to me (which can be described here http://www.fraudtech.bizland.com/short_change.htm ). The guy bought a news paper and a candy bar for $100 because he said he "just came from atlantic city and won a lot". He then kept asking for all this change, like I would give him a 20 and then he would ask to get it broken into 2 tens. Then he would hand me another 20 and ask for more change. I don't know, I still haven't figured that scam out. In the end he ended up stealing $153 dollars. God I wish I could stab that guy or get my hands around his neck since I had to pay for it ( I only made like 7 dollars an hr. too at the time so it took me a long time to pay that much off.)
 
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  • #5
Back in the late 70's a company offered to cut your bills in half, if you sent them 10 dollars processing fee. In return you got a cheap pair of kids plastic scissors.
They were charged with mail fraud, after hundreds of people complained, but they must of made a a ton of money.
 
  • #6
Re gravenewworld, it is amazing how easy it is to fool people. You can hand a busy cashier a five dollar bill and say, "I'd like two tens for a five", and more often than not they will start to make change. I have even had a few give me the money, at which point I just smile and ask if they really want to do that.
 
  • #7
I'm too lazy to fill out forms... so I guess that leads me with nothing so far.
 
  • #8
gravenewworld said:
When I was 15 I worked as a cashier in a grocery store and had someone do a change raising scam to me (which can be described here http://www.fraudtech.bizland.com/short_change.htm ). The guy bought a news paper and a candy bar for $100 because he said he "just came from atlantic city and won a lot". He then kept asking for all this change, like I would give him a 20 and then he would ask to get it broken into 2 tens. Then he would hand me another 20 and ask for more change. I don't know, I still haven't figured that scam out. In the end he ended up stealing $153 dollars. God I wish I could stab that guy or get my hands around his neck since I had to pay for it ( I only made like 7 dollars an hr. too at the time so it took me a long time to pay that much off.)
I had a change artist try to short change me when I was in my teens. He did exactly what was in the link you provided except I didn't lose track of what belonged to me, so when he handed me two tens and said, oh just give me a twenty, I said "sure, just give me another ten". He got all flustered pointing to the $20 in my hand and I calmly explained to him that one of the tens I already gave him change from was the ten that now belonged to me. It wasn't his and I needed another ten to make twenty. He wasn't expecting this to happen and was getting nervous because now I was holding his money and my money. I motioned the store manager over and explained what was happening and the guy ran out of the store leaving his money I was holding. When the police showed up, his description matched a short change artist that had been working the area for a couple of months. :approve:
 
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  • #9
Evo said:
I had a change artist try to short change me when I was in my teens. He did exactly what was in the link you provided except I didn't lose track of what belonged to me, so when he handed me two tens and said, oh just give me a twenty, I said "sure, just give me another ten". He got all flustered pointing to the $20 in my hand and I calmly explained to him that one of the tens I already gave him change from was the ten that now belonged to me. It wasn't his and I needed another ten to make twenty. He wasn't expecting this to happen and was getting nervous because now I was holding his money and my money. I motioned the store manager over and explained what was happening and the guy ran out of the store leaving his money I was holding. When the police showed up, his description matched a short change artist that had been working the area for a couple of months. :approve:

Yeah, they pretty much operate under the assumption that anyone working as a cashier is young, naive, and not very good at math. When I worked as a cashier, my drawer always matched the receipts perfectly, nothing over, nothing under, except on the days when the store owner couldn't resist spending an hour at the register (he was either manic or ADHD when I think back on his behavior...nice guy, high energy, but every so often he wanted to work the registers for kicks or something, and we all dreaded it). That was my first job and I really enjoyed it...it was a party store that I started working in before it even opened. That made it a lot of fun to be there behind the scenes to know what goes into getting a store ready to open. Just figuring out the layout and stocking all the shelves the first time, learning how to operate ALL the equipment (those of us who were the first employees were trained to do everything because the owner hadn't figured out who would do what jobs yet once the store opened...my favorite job was getting to blow up the balloons; everyone is so happy when they buy balloons). When I left to go to college, they were so disappointed, they had wanted to make me a manager.

Okay, scams: not one I've experienced personally, but someone told me about it (they read it in the news or online or something). Someone sells something with a full money back guarantee. After someone sends them the money for the order, they then send a letter that the item is out-of-stock and is being discontinued and refund the money by check (the check is good), so nobody has any reason to file charges of any kind. Except, the check they write the refund on has a different business name on it, something like "Child Pornography Videos Inc." For those who cash the check anyway, nothing is lost, but most people are too embarrassed to cash the check, so just don't bother. :smile:
 
  • #10
Is everyone overlooking televangelists, or just not mentioning them because it's too obvious? :devil:
 
  • #11
I occasionally visit a website with people who find people who do scams and scam them back. A normal anti-scam scam is to get these people who want to purchase things off of you for gaga bucks and want it delivered immediately but can only pay check. You send goods after u get the check and later the bank notifies you teh check bounces. What these people do is they 'hunt' these people down and get them to do the scam on them. What they do (after making sure its truly a scammer... there normally from nigeria and want to send shipment pickup to you and a few other tells) is they send absolte junk and garbage to the people instead of the products (in many cases, they want computers shipped to them). Check inevitably bounces of course and there's some funny arguments and corrospondences and its just ... absolutely hilarious to hear hteir stories. One guy sent a washing machine to a guy in nigera (The shipping and customs must have been ungodly for the scammerl... one guy found out some guy paid $1000 in shipping for the junk :P) so that must have sucked for the scammer D:
 
  • #12
Danger said:
Is everyone overlooking televangelists, or just not mentioning them because it's too obvious? :devil:
Exactly, we often overlook the obvious, like the guy I've been dating.
 
  • #13
SOS2008 said:
Exactly, we often overlook the obvious, like the guy I've been dating.
'Obvious' is one thing, but I can't imagine him overlooking those. :bugeye:
 
  • #14
Danger said:
Is everyone overlooking televangelists, or just not mentioning them because it's too obvious? :devil:

How is that a scam? They simply ask for donations, and they don't try to trick you.

Moonbear, that scam you mentioned is probably the smartest scam ever. Now I at least have a plan for my summer job :-p
 
  • #15
Not a true scam as such...
And advert in Private Eye magazine: "Lazy students, need beer money." I often wonder how much response it got.
 
  • #16
ShawnD said:
How is that a scam? They simply ask for donations, and they don't try to trick you.
Of course they trick people. How much trickier can you get than convincing little old ladies that they'll regain their health and then eventually go to heaven if they turn over their money to you? (And don't give me any crap about 'they don't say that'; they imply it with their pay-to-talk prayer lines and overpriced crucifixes.)
 
  • #17
My sister fell for this one (I'm summarising; I don't have the actual words): "make $mega$ by starting your own mail-order business from home! Guaranteed results! Just send £5 and we'll send you the full starter kit!" What is this magic starter kit? Why, it's a set of instructions for how to place ads like these (etc), under your own name!
 
  • #18
Actually that is pretty dumb Danger. Implications are subjective. Where you see someone implying you must pay them, everyone else in the world might not see it. And if overpriced products = scam, then i think downtown NY is a 10 square mile scam.
 
  • #19
A guy saw an advert in a telephone box with a picture of a sexy scantily clad lady, with a premium rate phone number, and the words "Hear me moan!"

So he phoned it up, only to be put on hold for a while. When the woman eventually answered, she whined "You haven't washed the car, you haven't done the dishes, you haven't taken the dog for a walk...".

Apparently the customer tried to sue them for misleading advertising. The ASA told him that he'd got exactly what the advert had said!
 
  • #20
Late one night I was watching TV. A man was selling The Soap of God. He claimed it would wash you free of sin, that God has personally blessed this soap. I was very sleepy and it was very surreal, it just cracked me up. It was a white bar with a blue plastic cross stuck to it. It makes me wonder how many he sold?
 
  • #21
gravenewworld said:
When I was 15 I worked as a cashier in a grocery store and had someone do a change raising scam to me (which can be described here http://www.fraudtech.bizland.com/short_change.htm ). The guy bought a news paper and a candy bar for $100 because he said he "just came from atlantic city and won a lot". He then kept asking for all this change, like I would give him a 20 and then he would ask to get it broken into 2 tens. Then he would hand me another 20 and ask for more change. I don't know, I still haven't figured that scam out. In the end he ended up stealing $153 dollars. God I wish I could stab that guy or get my hands around his neck since I had to pay for it ( I only made like 7 dollars an hr. too at the time so it took me a long time to pay that much off.)
Isn't there a film in which the hero does just this? IIRC, it also shows another scam, involving a marked high denomition note, a pretty child who's also good at acting, (and more?). I just can't remember what the film is, not even the lead actor :mad: :eek: :frown:
 
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  • #22
Nereid said:
I just can't remember what the film is, not even the lead actor :mad: :eek: :frown:
If you're thinking of a new one, 'Matchstick Men' with Nicolas Cage and Alison Lohman was about a con man and his daughter. I haven't seen it, so I don't know if it includes short-change artistry.
A much older movie along the same line was 'Paper Moon' with Ryan and Tatum O'Neal, followed by a spin-off series with Christopher Connelly and Jodie Foster.
 
  • #23
An ad in the paper: "This is your last chance to send $1 to (PO box)." The guy who placed the ad made over a thousand bucks before the Feds made him remove the ads. They couldn't charge him for taking advantage of peoples stupidity. He really made no false claims but they made him promise not to do it again.
 
  • #24
Pengwuino said:
Actually that is pretty dumb Danger. Implications are subjective. Where you see someone implying you must pay them, everyone else in the world might not see it.
Now there's a truly erudite opening for a logical discussion. Your debating coach must be proud. Just because evangelists' approach is based upon stupidity rather than greed doesn't make it any less a con. (In fact, you could consider the wish for personal salvation to be a form of greed.) Either you've never really watched one of these clowns in action, or you have no understanding of human behaviour. Most of them even use a quasi-Texas accent when speaking for the same reason that pilots and ATC personnel do; it has a soothing, almost hypnotic quality that supresses feelings of anxiety. They discovered this when Chuck Yeager was teaching aviation, and it still works the same way.
 
  • #25
I got the king of scams for you:

One time, our family business received a fax from a law office saying that someone had died and that, since no immediate relatives were around to collect the inheritance (something like a quarter of a billion dollars), their research indicated that our family was due the money. All we had to do was fly out to Nigeria ( ) and do up the paperwork. The letter explained the business interests of said deceased person were in Nigeria.

Anyway, I tossed it, figuring it was bogus (which it turned out to be).

We found out later that one person who'd received this fax actually flew over there to collect his money...and was promptly kidnapped and held for ransom! Apparently, these people were targetting US business owning families in the hope of luring in someone rich enough to pay a good ransom.

[tex]\infty[/tex]

The Rev
 
  • #26
Danger said:
If you're thinking of a new one, 'Matchstick Men' with Nicolas Cage and Alison Lohman was about a con man and his daughter. I haven't seen it, so I don't know if it includes short-change artistry.
A much older movie along the same line was 'Paper Moon' with Ryan and Tatum O'Neal, followed by a spin-off series with Christopher Connelly and Jodie Foster.
It is definitely not new, and not Paper Moon (that was shot in black & white, wasn't it?).

It's really bugging me - I can even picture the short-change scene (small store, middle-aged woman at the till, the villian engaging in smooth chitchat (doing a great job of distracting), and the camera lingering on the woman's face after the scamsters have left ... puzzled, thinks something fishy has been going on but can't quite put her finger on it). The other scam was to give the young girl (in cahoots with our villian) a $20 (?) bill with a 'pull the heartstrings' note in pen on it, and after using it pay for something she breaks down in tears over having her 'dear aunty's note' taken from her, while our villian shames the victim into parting with the note.
 
  • #27
Try to scam the US postal Service- Put the place's address where you want to send a letter in the upper left hand corner, and write some other address in the middle. If you send it in the mail without a stamp the postal service should mail it back to the place where you want to send it anyway for free right?
 
  • #28
Ivan Seeking said:
What are the best scams that you've heard about or fell for? I must admit that I've been had once; about ten years ago.

Giving ten percent of your income to the Church to help you get into heaven. I've never personally fallen for this and, in many ways, it isn't always a scam. I'm sure that a lot of the money does go toward noble purposes that the donors would approve of, but historically speaking, this one has been pretty good. It produced rich, corrupt clergymen that did almost no work for over a thousand years.
 
  • #29
gravenewworld said:
Try to scam the US postal Service- Put the place's address where you want to send a letter in the upper left hand corner, and write some other address in the middle. If you send it in the mail without a stamp the postal service should mail it back to the place where you want to send it anyway for free right?

Wouldn't they just throw it away?
 
  • #30
moose said:
Wouldn't they just throw it away?

No, the letter should arrive at the return address with a request for postage due. I doubt that this would work more than a few times though.
 
  • #31
loseyourname said:
Giving ten percent of your income to the Church to help you get into heaven. I've never personally fallen for this and, in many ways, it isn't always a scam. I'm sure that a lot of the money does go toward noble purposes that the donors would approve of, but historically speaking, this one has been pretty good. It produced rich, corrupt clergymen that did almost no work for over a thousand years.

Without mentioning any names, some churches take this way beyond tithing. There is one church that, of course, expects tithing, ie one tenth of your income, but also donations for mission services, The Bishop's warehouse, school funds, and any number of special projects that may be going on. By the time they're done they are shooting for more like 20-25% of your income. However, in their defense, they do take care of their own. It's really a bit like a private social security program.
 
  • #32
Ivan Seeking said:
Without mentioning any names, some churches take this way beyond tithing. There is one church that, of course, expects tithing, ie one tenth of your income, but also donations for mission services, The Bishop's warehouse, school funds, and any number of special projects that may be going on. By the time they're done they are shooting for more like 20-25% of your income. However, in their defense, they do take care of their own. It's really a bit like a private social security program.




Let's see...Mormons? I dated a mormon once, they are a very very strange group.
 
  • #33
gravenewworld said:
Try to scam the US postal Service- Put the place's address where you want to send a letter in the upper left hand corner, and write some other address in the middle. If you send it in the mail without a stamp the postal service should mail it back to the place where you want to send it anyway for free right?
Provided you want to send the letter to an address within the same zip code as the post office that originally processed the letter, that will always work. Otherwise, it works everytime the postal workers don't check the post mark. It might work even if they do check the postmark, since a person on a business trip would still probably use his home address.

It's also probably not the best way to mail resumes out to as many potential employers as possible.

Kind of a fun poker scam on newbies is to brag about being so good you'd bet a dollar (or some other small sum - don't take someone to the cleaners on a trick) that you could win the pot in open face poker on a bluff. They probably won't know what you're talking about, so you'll have to explain the game to them. All the cards are laid face up in the middle of the table and each player gets to pick the five cards he wants in his hand. If they ask if the opponent can watch to see what cards a person picks up, the answer is sure - who's to stop them? Once you've lured a sucker into playing, make sure you shuffle the cards at least seven times and give your opponent the opportunity to cut before you spread the cards out on the table, face up.

Naturally once someone's suckered into the bet, willing to play, and about ready to draw his cards (the opponent gets to draw first), remember the ante (about a quarter is good). Of course there has to be an ante and betting, or how could you bluff? Try to gauge it so the pot's at least twice as big as your original bet about the bluff. Your opponent will probably draw himself a royal flush - unbeatable. So, you respond by drawing your own royal flush. Make sure you don't let anyone see your cards while you're holding them! Let your opponent open the betting. Raise a quarter whether your opponent bets or checks. (By now, he's probably pretty sure he's going to be had.)

After the betting on the opening deal is done, ask your opponent how many cards he wants (you have to hold at least one card). Naturally, he'll hold what he's got, but you have to set the table. You hold your royal flush, as well. After the draw, another round of betting takes place. The first hand almost always winds up tied with both players having royal flushes (unless you're a really good bluffer and your opponent is really weak kneed).

You can't leave the game tied with money in the pot, so another hand has to be dealt. Deal passes to your opponent. Don't let your opponent spread the cards back out on the table until he's shuffled and given you an opportunity to cut the deck. Oh, have to ante again, naturally.

Draw four tens and some worthless card - a deuce, perhaps. Once again, make sure no one can see your cards (remember which card is which if you lay them face down on the table). Drawing all the tens keeps your opponent from drawing a royal flush. He'll have to settle for something a little less - like say four aces. Open the betting even though you have the lower hand. If he raises, re-raise.

After the round of betting, say you want four cards. Discard four of your cards, keeping one. Draw the 9,8,7, and 6 all of the same suit. The cards are still face up on the table, so your opponent will see what you've done. Now, your opponent can draw whatever cards he wants - he'll probably hold what he has. Open the betting again and your opponent, realizing he's been had, will fold (with the tens dead, the best possible hand he could draw would be a 9-5 straight flush).

Oh, and this was a bet that you could bluff someone even in open face poker, so, while you're reaching for the pot, be sure to sigh with relief and mention "Whew, I'm sure glad you folded - all I had was a 9 high" and toss your 9-8-7-6-2 (with the 2 not being the same suit as the others) out on the table face up.
 
  • #34
The Rev said:
got the king of scams for you:

One time, our family business received a fax from a law office saying that someone had died and that, since no immediate relatives were around to collect the inheritance (something like a quarter of a billion dollars), their research indicated that our family was due the money. All we had to do was fly out to Nigeria ( ) and do up the paperwork. The letter explained the business interests of said deceased person were in Nigeria.
There's a scam, though not really since it's actually legitimate, that's very similar to this. A "company" keeps an eye out for people who die with large estates and then tracks down the individuals who are heir to the estate that may not know they are getting an inheritance. They send these people letters telling them that they will process the inheritance transfer for them for say 10% of the total value of the inheritance or perhaps even less. The thing is that the legal process of claiming the inheritance, unless contested ofcourse, is very simple and only costs about $20. So these "companies" wind up taking hundreds of dollars from these people when all they are doing is filling out a form and paying $20.

The best though in my opinion are the people who e-mail you telling you about a large sum of money in an account in Nigeria that needs to be moved out of the country. I laughed my butt off when I got one.
Here's a site where they actually respond to the e-mails and try to scam the scammers.
http://www.reversescam.com/
 
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  • #35
TheStatutoryApe said:
The best though in my opinion are the people who e-mail you telling you about a large sum of money in an account in Nigeria that needs to be moved out of the country. I laughed my butt off when I got one.
Here's a site where they actually respond to the e-mails and try to scam the scammers.
http://www.reversescam.com/


I've been scambaiting for a few months now. In fact, a Nigerian fellow is expecting to meet me in Amsterdam next Thursday, where he'll no doubt be waiting to kidnap me. I've already cost him a few empty trips to the Western Union money office. Oh how disappointed he's going to be...
 
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