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MacAddict Tracks Down eBay Scam Artist

pudge posted more than 11 years ago | from the ha-ha dept.

Apple 912

OS24Ever writes "A future high school history teacher, Jason Eric Smith, sold an 867MHz PowerBook G4 on eBay right before finals. He found out the hard way that people are out there to rip you off, and he went to great lengths to catch this guy with the help of Mac heads everywhere. A great read and agreat way for us little guys to get back at these scammers."

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912 comments

hi kids (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4874737)

it's my fp

IN SOVIET RUSSIA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4874751)

Posting first means posting second

Fucking formkeys (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4874748)

They made me miss first post!

something's rotten (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4874752)

there's a lot of rotten apples on ebay.

Re:something's rotten (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4874901)

>>pay for it COD

DOH!

He was kind of asking for it. "Oh, PLEASE! F*** ME!"

You don't ship UNTIL the check clears.

Re:something's rotten (2)

Oliver Wendell Jones (158103) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874947)

I've never sent anything COD, but wouldn't FedEx be partly to blame for accepting a phony/counterfeit cashier's check?

Re:something's rotten (5, Informative)

ShdwStkr (454413) | more than 11 years ago | (#4875044)

No.

From FedEx's COD Policy (here [fedex.com] )

quote

D. Checks (including cashier's, official, certified, business and personal checks) and money orders for the C.O.D. Amount will be collected at the shipper's sole risk, including, but not limited to, all risk of nonpayment, fraud and forgery. FedEx has no liability with respect to any such instrument.

end quote.

Re:something's rotten (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4874990)

That's due to the auction lasting too long...

I had a farfetched thought... (2, Interesting)

Dimensio (311070) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874770)

...how about, when shipping something, trying to hide a GPS transponder somewhere in the object. Make it well-hidden, but also give it a limited-lifetime battery so that it won't be traceable after about a week.

If you get ripped, just follow the signal or keep track of where it last vanished (perhaps it went into a basement where it couldn't be tracked any further). Meet the crook at his/her door with a .45.

Well, okay, maybe not a .45 but be ready to inflict physical violence, since the feds are rarely helpful.

Re:I had a farfetched thought... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4874802)

how about, when shipping something, trying to hide a GPS transponder somewhere in the object

I bet you don't support Palladium or DRM, do you?

Re:I had a farfetched thought... (1, Interesting)

Dimensio (311070) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874822)

No. Does that have anything to do with my incredibly farfetched suggestion? It isn't as though I was suggesting federally mandated GPS tracking devices in shipping packages.

Re:I had a farfetched thought... (5, Funny)

Denito (196701) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874960)


What a fantastic idea. Instead of losing your money to scams, you can instead use it all buying GPS devices that you ship away and never get again.

I haven't heard such great idea since my meeting with accounting 10 minutes ago.

Re:I had a farfetched thought... (1)

Dimensio (311070) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874969)

I did call it farfetched, didn't I?

Anyway, it might be just a good idea to track down known scammers. Someone looks shady and has a reputation, make a deal, track them down and beat them to a bloody, unrecognizable pulp.

Re:I had a farfetched thought... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4875063)

lol you are such a nerd.

Re:I had a farfetched thought... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4875039)

I wouldn't be surprised if some other 'packages' that were recently delivered to Yemen had some GPS transponders hidden in them.

IN SOVIET RUSSIA (-1, Troll)

trotski (592530) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874776)

Macintosh scams YOU!!!!

Wait a second, macintosh scams you anyway... eg $100 bucks for Jaguar.

Let's change that:

IN SOVIET RUSSIA

Macintosh DOESN'T scam YOU!!!

Re:IN SOVIET RUSSIA (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4874804)

I'm glad that I killed you Trotski.

-Stalin

Re:IN SOVIET RUSSIA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4874989)

I think Diego had him killed for banging Frida and just set Johnson up to look like a sov agent.

Re:IN SOVIET RUSSIA (1)

SweetAndSourJesus (555410) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874900)

Jesus, are people still bitching about that?

Did microsoft give people free upgrades from 98 to ME? Has there been some sort of "free upgrades until the end of time" precedent set by any other commercial operating system vendor?

If you want a free operating system, you know where to get it [netbsd.org] .

Re:IN SOVIET RUSSIA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4874919)

I hate to break it to you, but you're a moron.

IN SOVIET RUSSIA... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4874789)

Scam artist tracks down macaddict.

My Favorite quote is..... (5, Funny)

neurostar (578917) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874795)

"That night I dreamed of Mr. Christmas and a baseball bat, some duct tape, and roofing nails."

neurostar

Re:My Favorite quote is..... (2, Funny)

Dimensio (311070) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874862)

Honestly, that would have been my method, especially since there was little chance of recovering the stolen goods. I prefer the kind of vengence where I can take personal satisfaction with the feeling of hard metal or wood repeatedly slamming against flesh. I like to hear the crook whimper and beg and sob like a small child as I crush his legs.

Of course, fun as it would be to let them live and leave them crippled for life, I would know the importance of ending it so that I could not be identified by them later.

Yes, I am a very disturbed person, but I'm not that bad if you haven't tried to screw me over.

Who care's (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4874807)

Macintosh sucks anyway, it just doesn't come close to the reliability and stability of Windows XP. The man was an idiot, of course you can't trust anyone selling a macintosh on-line. If he were buying a PC he would have gotten a good product at an excelent price. This is yet more proof that Windows is suppirior to Macintosh. Do yourself a favor and pick up Windows XP today!

Re:Who care's (1)

loginx (586174) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874864)

Hi,

The guy was SELLING the Mac, not BUYING it.
You are a morron.
Good day.

Re:Who care's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4874893)

He was selling it because Macs suck.

Re:Who care's (1)

loginx (586174) | more than 11 years ago | (#4875055)

Ok let's assume everytime someone sells something it means it sucks.
Search for Macs on ebay:
Then searching for PC :

Using your very intelligent reasoning, come back when windows xp works on mac.

I don't even use macs by the way, I just think you're acting really stupid.

Scam this! (1, Funny)

Dental Plan (631974) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874809)

Tracking down an eBay scam artist... That's a paddling

That had better been a Linux box or... That's a paddling

Once you catch the scam artist... you'd better believe that's a paddling (that you get to give to him!)

Re:Scam this! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4875020)

How can this shit get modded up in EVERY story?

Would a Windows User? (1, Insightful)

Slack0ff (590042) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874824)

Would a windows user go through all that trouble? I bet not... a windows pc is a dime a dozen. A Mac is somthing on a whole different level. Also the "new" mac users who are attracted to OSX seem to be more geeky then previous macaddicts and there more ready to do this kind of stuff.

Re:Would a Windows User? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4874860)

"Would a windows user go through all that trouble?"

No. They aren't prone to being ripped off in the first place, by buying a Mac.

Re:Would a Windows User? (1)

Slack0ff (590042) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874951)

That Last post sounds like flamebait to me. Its not very often you see someone stand up for windows around here. But hey every circus has its freaks.

Re:Would a Windows User? (3, Interesting)

MoneyT (548795) | more than 11 years ago | (#4875017)

Mac users are very protective of their computers, and will go to great lengths to ensure that people don't steal them. Theres a similar story floating about how one person had their mac stolen from thier house and used tibuktu and some funky apple scripts to trace the mac to a house. Long story short, police show up, find stolen computers, guy gets his computer back.

Just cause PC users are accustomed to losing money in bad investments doesn't mean that mac users are.

[Yes, that last statement is a troll]

Re:Would a Windows User? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4875054)

Your an Idiot!... Macloosers!

A smart mob / posse? (5, Interesting)

certron (57841) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874829)

I think this is interesting for the sole fact that a whole lot of people who owe no direct kinship to each other elected to cooperate for a common cause.

I was listening to a presentation about different pagan holidays, and one component of one of the rituals was to honor / remember your ancestors. What made me remember this was that the presenter said that the ancestors didn't have to be biological, instead could be cultural, intellectual, or spiritual ancestors.

In this case, it seems that these 'artificial' families are willing to stick together and cooperate on a common goal, even if they themselves will not directly benefit. I suppose this is just a regular community, with enough people in it that a few would be motivated to assist. Then again, I could just be amazed by my own insight, marvelling at a fact that others have known for ages, and so think that I am smarter than I actually am. :-)

Re:A smart mob / posse? (1)

mjolner (589085) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874995)

You are actually as smart as you think you are. :-)

The discovery that Apple is in fact a religion is fairly recent.

Apple is religion:
http://www.wired.com/news/mac/0,2125,56 674,00.html

Re:A smart mob / posse? (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 11 years ago | (#4875065)

I think this is interesting for the sole fact that a whole lot of people who owe no direct kinship to each other elected to cooperate for a common cause.

What's interesting about that? Americans have been doing that since, oh, 1700 or so. And Europeans were doing it even longer than that.

I was listening to a presentation about different pagan holidays, and one component of one of the rituals was to honor / remember your ancestors. What made me remember this was that the presenter said that the ancestors didn't have to be biological, instead could be cultural, intellectual, or spiritual ancestors.

Must... resist... urge to... point out... self-intersted religion...

In this case, it seems that these 'artificial' families are willing to stick together and cooperate on a common goal, even if they themselves will not directly benefit. I suppose this is just a regular community, with enough people in it that a few would be motivated to assist. Then again, I could just be amazed by my own insight, marvelling at a fact that others have known for ages, and so think that I am smarter than I actually am. :-)

Yep, that's it. :)

Re:A smart mob / posse? (1)

Inthewire (521207) | more than 11 years ago | (#4875066)

Maybe it had something to do with the fact that most people willing to participate in such idiocy don't have ancestors that preceded them in the traditions.
Maybe it's a way to let anyone participate. Maybe the children of genuine pagans / Druids / whatever realize that it's a bunch of garbage and won't join in the fun.
I see it as a way of allowing all to join since most won't.

But that's just my opinion.
And I'm a dick.

Good for you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4874830)

Finally

I'm sorry - but he was an idiot in the first place (5, Interesting)

Dark Paladin (116525) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874838)

I sell things on Ebay as well (usually old games that I'm done with) - and I don't do COD. Paypal - sure. Checks and money orders, but I wait until they clear before they ship.

I know we should be more trusting of people, but I've become convinced that 20% of the population is made of Assholes that can be trusted only as far as they can be shot.

Still, I have to admire his spirit tracking the guy down - if nothing else, that's one less asshole to worry about. Only 1 billion to go!

Re:I'm sorry - but he was an idiot in the first pl (5, Funny)

oyenstikker (536040) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874914)

Surely you're not trying to say that there is only one asshole in every 7 people.

Re:I'm sorry - but he was an idiot in the first pl (1)

bwalling (195998) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874974)

Surely you're not trying to say that there is only one asshole in every 7 people

Everyone is an asshole in at least one person's mind. Think back - surely there's someone you have had an interaction with that thinks you are an asshole. I'm sure you have a few people you think are assholes. So, everyone is an asshole.

There's a difference between an asshole and a criminal, though.

Re:I'm sorry - but he was an idiot in the first pl (5, Funny)

MalleusEBHC (597600) | more than 11 years ago | (#4875056)

Surely you're not trying to say that 20% comes out to 1 in 7 as a fraction.

Next Time Use Escrow (NT) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4874841)

At least Mac addicts are good for something (-1, Troll)

ekrout (139379) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874843)

'Cause we all know they don't know sh*t about computers ;-D

The importance of a 'P' (5, Funny)

Mr Guy (547690) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874846)

If he was a spammer [slashdot.org] and not a scammer, he could have just posted it here and had the guy in hours.

You can stop payment on a cashier's check? (1)

EllisDees (268037) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874865)

I thought that there were like money orders in that once you paid for it, there isn't any way to get your money back without a long, drawn-out process. Did the guy pay for the cashier's check with a bad check or something?

Re:You can stop payment on a cashier's check? (2, Insightful)

zer0vector (94679) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874912)

I think the guy was forging the cashier's checks, which is why he tried to get the Secret Service involved.

Re:You can stop payment on a cashier's check? (1)

ivrcti (535150) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874936)

Nope. Far more likely is that the check itself was counterfeit. Not hard to do these days.

Re:You can stop payment on a cashier's check? (3, Informative)

.sig (180877) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874937)

I think the point was that they were counterfeit cashiers checks, which is why the secret service was involved. It was implied in the article, but nevere flat out said.

Re:You can stop payment on a cashier's check? (1, Redundant)

EllisDees (268037) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874939)

Oops. Didn't read the whole story before posting. :(

Re:You can stop payment on a cashier's check? (2)

PinkStainlessTail (469560) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874962)

The cashiers checks were counterfeit. SO the scammer either made 'em himself or acquired them from another crook. No actual bank was involved.

Re:You can stop payment on a cashier's check? (1)

JJAnon (180699) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874977)

Read the article: he created counterfeit cashiers checks.

Re:You can stop payment on a cashier's check? (2)

4iedBandit (133211) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874993)

True to /. form.

RTFL. (Read The F***ing Link)

Then you might know what happend. Meet Mr. Clue stick. (WHAM!) The cashiers check was counterfit.

How do I know that? Because I RTFL.

Re:You can stop payment on a cashier's check? (1)

darkpenguin (442917) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874996)

You CAN stop payment on a cashier's check. I don't know about all cashier's checks but if you get it from your bank, it's not a problem.

I recently had to stop payment on a cashier's check for a payment I made to an ebay seller. The bank charged me around $7 to stop payment but it's much better than losing $100+.

In case of /.ing (-1, Redundant)

c0dedude (587568) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874868)

Mac Addicts to the Rescue or How I Caught a Counterfeiter with a Little Help from my Friends a true story by Jason Eric Smith Check out the Forum in the interest of getting this out, no fancy layout, just hand coding. maybe i'll spruce it up later. the names of the innocent have been changed, the names of the guilty though... I am a college student (my second time around). Specifically, I'm studying to become a high school history teacher. I am a student with a lifelong habit though, Macintosh. I got my first Mac in 1986, a used Mac Plus with 1 megabyte of RAM a massive 40 megabyte external hardrive. Since then, I've always had to keep up, first it was the SE, then the IIsi, the Powerbook 140, and from there on, more Macs than you can shake a stick at (I missed the Mac TV). I usually keep my Mac for about 6 months, and then resell it and move up. I almost always buy used, so don't get any ideas about me being rich. Since I went back to being a student again, I've been selling Macs more regularly, picking up good deals on used Macs locally and then reselling on eBay. I've been doing this for about two years now, its relatively easy, takes about an extra hour of my day, and usually pays the rent. In November when the new Powerbooks came out I decided I was going to buy one for myself, to keep, an early Christmas present that would come in handy for taking notes in class and finishing up a presentation I needed to do on the New Orleans school system. The day they were announced I ordered a nice new Powerbook G4 867 and found it on my doorstep only a few days later. It was a beautiful machine, if you've never played with one in person, you won't believe it. I played with it for a couple of days, took it to school to take notes and do research on. The more I used it, the more I loved it. But, it was just too much to be carrying around, $2300 in my backpack had a tendency to make me a little nervous. I decided maybe I should turn it around and pick up an iBook. My girlfriend and I decided we would use the extra money to donate to some charities for Christmas. So on November 19th, up on eBay it went, along with an Airport Basestation and a bunch of other knickknacks. I set a buy-it-now price on a whim for $2950. The next morning I checked my auction, a couple of bids placed, and so the buy-it-now option was gone. Checking my email I got a couple of questions about the computer and much to my surprise, an offer to buy it for $2900 from Steve Matthews, a dad with a lucky son in college who was going to be getting a Powerbook for his birthday. Steve wanted to pay for it COD, no problem, its actually how I usually sell things. I called him on the phone number he gave me to ask a couple of questions and make sure everything was on the up and up. He reiterated that he was buying it as a last minute present for his son and since it was already setup as a package, he thought it was a good deal. Not to mention the Chicago Apple stores were still out of stock. I got home from school, packed up my Powerbook and accessories, and off they went Fedex overnight to Chicago, never to be seen again. At 10:21AM on November 21st, a man going by the name of Paul Smith signed for my two packages and gave the driver an official cashier's check from LaSalle Bank for $3052.78 in return. The check made it back to my doorstep the next morning. I went to the bank, deposited the check and withdrew enough to go ahead and pay my rent and pick up a couple of household items. I sent an email to Steve to make sure he got everything ok and to check that nothing had been damaged in shipping. No reply. As the old saying goes, no news is good news, right? My girlfriend and I went away for Thanksgiving, and when we got back on Friday, I had a message from my bank. The branch manager had called to let me know she had a returned item for $3052.78 and that my account was now in the negative. Seriously in the negative. No problem I thought, I'll just call Steve and see what's up. So I dialed the number I had. In the back of my mind I expected a "this number has been disconnected message". Instead I got an answer, the voice sounded identical to Steve, so I asked if Steve was there. "Oh, Steve, yeah, that's my cousin, he's out of town for Thanksgiving you know. He'll be back Tuesday" "Can I leave a message for him?" So I left my information and asked that he give me a call. That little voice in the back of my mind let out a sigh and an uh-oh. The voices were the same right? Was I being scammed? Well, if I was, I certainly wasn't going to let the weekend go by without doing a little investigating. I started off with the information I had. His AOL email address, his phone number, and the address I shipped the computer to. The AOL address didn't yield anything. Doing a reverse lookup on the address (thanks to Whitepages.com) I got three names and phone numbers, none of which matched anything I had. The phone number didn't give me anything. I finally found a way to lookup the exchange on the number to see if it was a cell phone or a landline (Fone Finder). It came back as Nextel and I wanted to scream. There really isn't anything you can do with a cell phone number. There are no directory services. The cell phone companies won't give out any information. And that's that. I called Nextel and pleaded with them. The customer service rep I spoke with seemed more confused than anything. He kept asking me what my Nextel phone number was and why I suspected someone was fraudulently billing to my account. I calmly explained at least three times that I was not a Nextel customer, that I was just trying to get an address for another customer I suspect has defrauded me, etc, etc. I finally gave up on Chris from Nextel, I've had customer service reps who don't even speak English who were more helpful. I was at a dead end. I'd just sent my $2300 laptop, my Airport basestation, and a load of stuff to somebody I didn't know and all I had to show for it was a bill from Fedex for overnight shipping and a returned cashier's check. It's hard to sleep comfortably knowing some asshole has your Mac and is doing god knows what with it. Sunday the first of December, I sprang into action full force. I called for help. I knew I wasn't going to get anywhere with this on my own, so I figured I might be able to get some help from some bulletin boards. I posted my tale of woe and call for assistance on every Mac bulletin board I could think of. I hoped that somebody who worked for Nextel, some fellow Mac addict like myself, might be willing to bend the rules a little. I wanted this guy's address and I wanted it bad. I was already pricing flights to Chicago and putting my professors on notice that I might have to miss a little class. I may have made an error in trusting this person, but I'm not someone you want to have that happen to. I will get you. I will hunt you down, and I will bring a baseball bat with me. I got more replies than I could keep up with. Everyone wanted to know what they could do to help or at least offer support. Well, everyone except one guy who just wanted to let me know how incredibly stupid he thought I was and that he would never have accepted a counterfeit anything. I think a 102:1 great person to asshole ratio is pretty good. Several people living in Chicago offered their assistance, be it in gathering information or even forming a tough guy squad if necessary. The most important reply I got was a pointer to an online PI service that does reverse lookups on cell phones. I was already beyond broke, but I figured $85.00 more wouldn't kill me. Twelve hours and $85.00 later, I had a name, an address, and a landline phone number for this guy. The name and his AOL email were eerily close, actually with a last name like Christmas, it would be pretty weird if it didn't match up. I couldn't believe it. A Chicago resident named Melvin Christmas had just ruined my Christmas. I was expecting William Faulkner to come popping out of the pantry at any moment and laugh at me. I was now ready to call the police. I called the Chicago police department and filed a report. I gave the operator all of my information, including the real name and address I had managed to get. "A detective will contact you within one to two weeks, thank you." One to two weeks?!? I had this guy, I'd done all the work already, all you had to do was go pick him up. I'd even gone ahead and called Fedex and spoken to the Chicago station manager and was assured that the driver would cooperate in identifying the guy if necessary. All they had to do was pick him up. In one to two weeks he could be gone. And all the while my precious Powerbook is sitting god knows where being used by somebody completely undeserving of a Mac. I know in my heart that Mr. Christmas is really a PC guy. I was furious. Chicago PD weren't going to do anything about this. If they were anything like the New Orleans PD, one to two weeks was likely to turn in to never. I figured I'd call Mr. Christmas myself. Let him know I was going to give him a chance to fix this, and I thought, maybe at least scare him. Let him know he was dealing with someone who would track him down no matter what, even if I had to make a deal with the Prince of Darkness to do it. Mr. Christmas said he didn't even know what email was. Obviously a PC user. I kept checking the message boards. Maybe someone would have a better idea. I called the local FBI field office. Agent Jones was very understanding, but let me know that even though this crossed state lines, the field office didn't take anything involving less than $5000. "Try the Chicago PD". I kept everyone on the Mac boards updated as best I could. On Tuesday I got a useful reply, try the Secret Service, counterfeiting is their jurisdiction. I made my way to the under-renovation Federal Building here in New Orleans. After walking many a dark, scary hallway, found myself at the door of Agent Keith Lopola. Keith came out and heard my case. I had brought copies of all the emails between myself and Steve Matthews/Paul Smith/Mr. Christmas, a copy of the check, and the call journal I had started keeping. Agent Lopola told me the same thing the FBI did, "It falls under our jurisdiction, but we can't take the case." He wanted to let me know that he really felt for me. Thanks. I left the office determined to call and bother him and the Chicago PD everyday for the rest of my life or at least until Mr. Christmas was behind bars. Finals were fast approaching. It's not very easy to concentrate on school when all you can think about all day is the fact that all of your student loans for the next semester are going to cover this counterfeit check. That and some grubby criminal has your Powerbook. It's enough to drive someone to the drink. Tuesday night I got an email from someone who had seen my story posted on O'Grady's Powerpage, a Powerbook enthusiast site. George Dunbar had seen the story and thought it sounded eerily similar to his. I called him, we compared notes, and turns out it was the same guy. George forwarded me all of his emails. Everything was the same, word for word, it was like Mr. Christmas just copied and pasted and magically made money. George was in it worse than I was though and had completely given up. He was out $6000 and two computers. He also let me know that there were more victims. He'd talked to at least three other people who had been taken by the same guy, all of whom had just given up. I was not going to give up. That night I dreamed of Mr. Christmas and a baseball bat, some duct tape, and roofing nails. Wednesday morning I decided I was going to Chicago. I set up another eBay auction under my girlfriend's account, this time for same computer, different city. Three hours later, lo and behold I received an email from eBay user videopro55 (the same one) asking me if I'd like to sell the computer right now for $2500. Oh yes, I'd love to sell the computer, I'll even be there when it gets delivered to make sure it gets "setup properly". He emailed me a new address and phone number, the phone number again traced back to the same address for Mr. Christmas. I called the Secret Service and the Chicago PD, pleading, all they had to do was be there when Fedex dropped off the package. It was a guaranteed hit, he'd have another counterfeit cashier's check, all you'd have to do is arrest him. Like shooting fish in a barrel. "Sorry, Detective McDonaugh will be out until next Wednesday, can I take a message?" Fine, if the cops won't do it, I decided I'd just Priceline a ticket and be waiting next door when it got dropped off. So I'd know what kind of neighborhood I was looking at, I asked for help again in the Mac boards. Two Chicago residents replied, and the next morning, courtesy of Tim, I had 23 pictures of the house, the cars in the driveway (with license plate numbers) and the neighborhood. I'd like to see a Dell user do something like that at 4:30 in the morning for a complete stranger a thousand miles away. I started planning my trip. I decided I'd leave on Saturday, have the package delivered on Monday, and make it back just in time to screw up on all my finals. On Friday in preparation for flying up I mapped the new address from the one for Mr. Christmas to see how close it was. As I looked at the map, it hit me. The new address wasn't in Chicago. It was in a suburb, Markham. I googled for the Markham police and 5 minutes later was talking to a very enthusiastic Sargeant Knapp. I had hit the jackpot, the new drop was outside of Chicago jurisdiction and therefore outside of their inattentiveness as well. Sargeant Knapp informed me he loved this kind of thing, even had a UPS and Fedex uniform ready. He'd call Fedex and they would set it up for Tuesday. I was certain I was dreaming. After talking to two detectives in Chicago, an FBI field agent, an agent in the New Orleans field office of the Secret Service, an agent with the L.A. Secret Service and having a conference call with a large group of agents from the Chicago Secret Service, I finally was getting somewhere. And I didn't even have to stand on someone's doorstep with a baseball bat to do it. I spent the entire weekend on pins and needles. What if Mr. Christmas figured something out between now and Tuesday? All would be lost. I wouldn't even get the chance to confront him on my own. On Monday I spoke with Sgt. Knapp to make sure everything was ready to go. I had sent him a package with all of my documentation (he didn't have email), and I tried to explain what all the email stuff meant as best I could. He had worked everything out with Fedex and they were set for the delivery on Tuesday. I called my brother in Nashville and had him send the package. I had set everything up to be coming from there so that Mr. Christmas wouldn't get suspicious. I could barely sleep Monday night. All I could think about was something going wrong and my only chance at getting this guy being missed. I wanted to update everyone on the Mac boards, but I had to keep it quiet until I knew something was going to happen. Tuesday afternoon Sgt. Knapp called. They had tried the delivery but no one was home. I just wanted to scream. The board users kept posting how the suspense was driving them nuts. Well, it was going to give me an aneurism. A million possibilities went through my head. Maybe he had somebody working at Fedex who tipped him off, maybe I worded something in one of my email a little off. Sgt. Knapp called me back to let me know they would try the delivery again tomorrow. He also wanted to let me know that they had intercepted another package that was being sent to the same address. Looks like he'd already struck again, thankfully the lady from New York will get her computer back. He also told me that he was definitely going to keep pursuing this, and that oddly enough, the address I'd given him was also related to another fraud case, but this one much bigger (hundreds of thousands) involving a certain Chicago franchise I won't mention. So maybe I had led them to something bigger than just some asshole counterfeiting cashier's checks. Today I had finals all day. I'm a 4.0 honors student. I've had a 4.0 all semester. I'm not sure if I'll keep that after today. I just couldn't sleep last night. All I could think about was Mr. Christmas and the delivery. I couldn't study either. So I winged it, I'll get my grades tomorrow. I called Sgt. Knapp at 2:45. He told me he was on his way back to the house. They'd already made the delivery and arrested the guy. He had more than $10,000 in counterfeit cashier's checks waiting for deliveries. *I* got him. I'm right now waiting on Sgt. Knapp to fax me a copy of his mug shot for posterity. Then I'm going to go celebrate. Sgt. Knapp said the guy was cooperating and he was going to try to recover my laptop. I'm hopeful, but I don't expect it. I might not ever get my computer back, but at least there is one less asshole on the street. When will criminals learn? You just shouldn't mess with Mac people. For everyone on all the boards who offered their help and encouragement, I thank you. This would have been a lot harder without you. If you're ever in New Orleans, look me up and I'll buy you a beer. I've still got to figure out how I'm paying to college next semester, but I'll keep some beer money set aside for ya'll. Oh yeah, and if there are any lawyers in the Chicago area who can file a civil suit against this guy for damages (yeah I know I'm not going to collect) please contact me, misterye a t yahoo d o t com

Re:In case of /.ing (1)

PhoenixFlare (319467) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874907)

Dear lord....If you're going to karma whore, at least take 5 or 10 minutes to put some paragraph breaks in. That's painful to even begin to read.

He used a *NIX tracking utility (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4874871)

openDK() [fazigu.org] was used to takedown this scammer.

This is excellent news (1, Offtopic)

TerryAtWork (598364) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874873)

Although myself I have never had trouble on eBay - 15 positive feedbacks, and never been burned.

Re:This is excellent news (2, Informative)

rock_climbing_guy (630276) | more than 11 years ago | (#4875048)

wish I could say the same, I have feedback score 81 with 0 negatives and i've been burned over $200. My money order went to a scammer in Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ.

When I think about why I use eBay, I know that if I get ripped off, eBay won't do anything about it. They say they have fraud insurance, but when I filed a claim several years ago, I got no response. The reason eBay is popular, IMHO, is that it's fun. It's exciting to bid on stuff, and sell stuff, and compulsively check 'My Ebay' 20 times a day to see if anyone else bid on your stuff. Anyone else agree?

Beatles tune... (3, Funny)

Vaughn Anderson (581869) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874877)

new Beatles tune mp3... only available K**Za

"I Catch Counterfeiters with a Little Help from my Friends" ...who just happen to be Addicts... go figure..

here goes (5, Informative)

mao che minh (611166) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874879)

Mac Addicts to the Rescue

or

How I Caught a Counterfeiter with a Little Help from my Friends

a true story by Jason Eric Smith

Check out the Forum

in the interest of getting this out, no fancy layout, just hand coding. maybe i'll spruce it up later. the names of the innocent have been changed, the names of the guilty though...

I am a college student (my second time around). Specifically, I'm studying to become a high school history teacher. I am a student with a lifelong habit though, Macintosh. I got my first Mac in 1986, a used Mac Plus with 1 megabyte of RAM a massive 40 megabyte external hardrive. Since then, I've always had to keep up, first it was the SE, then the IIsi, the Powerbook 140, and from there on, more Macs than you can shake a stick at (I missed the Mac TV). I usually keep my Mac for about 6 months, and then resell it and move up. I almost always buy used, so don't get any ideas about me being rich.

Since I went back to being a student again, I've been selling Macs more regularly, picking up good deals on used Macs locally and then reselling on eBay. I've been doing this for about two years now, its relatively easy, takes about an extra hour of my day, and usually pays the rent. In November when the new Powerbooks came out I decided I was going to buy one for myself, to keep, an early Christmas present that would come in handy for taking notes in class and finishing up a presentation I needed to do on the New Orleans school system. The day they were announced I ordered a nice new Powerbook G4 867 and found it on my doorstep only a few days later.

It was a beautiful machine, if you've never played with one in person, you won't believe it. I played with it for a couple of days, took it to school to take notes and do research on. The more I used it, the more I loved it. But, it was just too much to be carrying around, $2300 in my backpack had a tendency to make me a little nervous. I decided maybe I should turn it around and pick up an iBook. My girlfriend and I decided we would use the extra money to donate to some charities for Christmas. So on November 19th, up on eBay it went, along with an Airport Basestation and a bunch of other knickknacks. I set a buy-it-now price on a whim for $2950.

The next morning I checked my auction, a couple of bids placed, and so the buy-it-now option was gone. Checking my email I got a couple of questions about the computer and much to my surprise, an offer to buy it for $2900 from Steve Matthews, a dad with a lucky son in college who was going to be getting a Powerbook for his birthday. Steve wanted to pay for it COD, no problem, its actually how I usually sell things. I called him on the phone number he gave me to ask a couple of questions and make sure everything was on the up and up.

He reiterated that he was buying it as a last minute present for his son and since it was already setup as a package, he thought it was a good deal. Not to mention the Chicago Apple stores were still out of stock. I got home from school, packed up my Powerbook and accessories, and off they went Fedex overnight to Chicago, never to be seen again.

At 10:21AM on November 21st, a man going by the name of Paul Smith signed for my two packages and gave the driver an official cashier's check from LaSalle Bank for $3052.78 in return. The check made it back to my doorstep the next morning. I went to the bank, deposited the check and withdrew enough to go ahead and pay my rent and pick up a couple of household items. I sent an email to Steve to make sure he got everything ok and to check that nothing had been damaged in shipping. No reply. As the old saying goes, no news is good news, right?

My girlfriend and I went away for Thanksgiving, and when we got back on Friday, I had a message from my bank. The branch manager had called to let me know she had a returned item for $3052.78 and that my account was now in the negative. Seriously in the negative. No problem I thought, I'll just call Steve and see what's up.

So I dialed the number I had. In the back of my mind I expected a "this number has been disconnected message". Instead I got an answer, the voice sounded identical to Steve, so I asked if Steve was there.

"Oh, Steve, yeah, that's my cousin, he's out of town for Thanksgiving you know. He'll be back Tuesday"

"Can I leave a message for him?"

So I left my information and asked that he give me a call. That little voice in the back of my mind let out a sigh and an uh-oh. The voices were the same right? Was I being scammed? Well, if I was, I certainly wasn't going to let the weekend go by without doing a little investigating.

I started off with the information I had. His AOL email address, his phone number, and the address I shipped the computer to. The AOL address didn't yield anything. Doing a reverse lookup on the address (thanks to Whitepages.com) I got three names and phone numbers, none of which matched anything I had. The phone number didn't give me anything. I finally found a way to lookup the exchange on the number to see if it was a cell phone or a landline (Fone Finder). It came back as Nextel and I wanted to scream.

There really isn't anything you can do with a cell phone number. There are no directory services. The cell phone companies won't give out any information. And that's that. I called Nextel and pleaded with them. The customer service rep I spoke with seemed more confused than anything. He kept asking me what my Nextel phone number was and why I suspected someone was fraudulently billing to my account. I calmly explained at least three times that I was not a Nextel customer, that I was just trying to get an address for another customer I suspect has defrauded me, etc, etc. I finally gave up on Chris from Nextel, I've had customer service reps who don't even speak English who were more helpful.

I was at a dead end. I'd just sent my $2300 laptop, my Airport basestation, and a load of stuff to somebody I didn't know and all I had to show for it was a bill from Fedex for overnight shipping and a returned cashier's check. It's hard to sleep comfortably knowing some asshole has your Mac and is doing god knows what with it.

Sunday the first of December, I sprang into action full force. I called for help. I knew I wasn't going to get anywhere with this on my own, so I figured I might be able to get some help from some bulletin boards. I posted my tale of woe and call for assistance on every Mac bulletin board I could think of. I hoped that somebody who worked for Nextel, some fellow Mac addict like myself, might be willing to bend the rules a little. I wanted this guy's address and I wanted it bad. I was already pricing flights to Chicago and putting my professors on notice that I might have to miss a little class. I may have made an error in trusting this person, but I'm not someone you want to have that happen to. I will get you. I will hunt you down, and I will bring a baseball bat with me.

I got more replies than I could keep up with. Everyone wanted to know what they could do to help or at least offer support. Well, everyone except one guy who just wanted to let me know how incredibly stupid he thought I was and that he would never have accepted a counterfeit anything. I think a 102:1 great person to asshole ratio is pretty good. Several people living in Chicago offered their assistance, be it in gathering information or even forming a tough guy squad if necessary.

The most important reply I got was a pointer to an online PI service that does reverse lookups on cell phones. I was already beyond broke, but I figured $85.00 more wouldn't kill me. Twelve hours and $85.00 later, I had a name, an address, and a landline phone number for this guy. The name and his AOL email were eerily close, actually with a last name like Christmas, it would be pretty weird if it didn't match up. I couldn't believe it. A Chicago resident named Melvin Christmas had just ruined my Christmas. I was expecting William Faulkner to come popping out of the pantry at any moment and laugh at me.

I was now ready to call the police. I called the Chicago police department and filed a report. I gave the operator all of my information, including the real name and address I had managed to get. "A detective will contact you within one to two weeks, thank you." One to two weeks?!? I had this guy, I'd done all the work already, all you had to do was go pick him up. I'd even gone ahead and called Fedex and spoken to the Chicago station manager and was assured that the driver would cooperate in identifying the guy if necessary. All they had to do was pick him up. In one to two weeks he could be gone. And all the while my precious Powerbook is sitting god knows where being used by somebody completely undeserving of a Mac. I know in my heart that Mr. Christmas is really a PC guy.

I was furious. Chicago PD weren't going to do anything about this. If they were anything like the New Orleans PD, one to two weeks was likely to turn in to never. I figured I'd call Mr. Christmas myself. Let him know I was going to give him a chance to fix this, and I thought, maybe at least scare him. Let him know he was dealing with someone who would track him down no matter what, even if I had to make a deal with the Prince of Darkness to do it. Mr. Christmas said he didn't even know what email was. Obviously a PC user.

I kept checking the message boards. Maybe someone would have a better idea. I called the local FBI field office. Agent Jones was very understanding, but let me know that even though this crossed state lines, the field office didn't take anything involving less than $5000. "Try the Chicago PD".

I kept everyone on the Mac boards updated as best I could. On Tuesday I got a useful reply, try the Secret Service, counterfeiting is their jurisdiction. I made my way to the under-renovation Federal Building here in New Orleans. After walking many a dark, scary hallway, found myself at the door of Agent Keith Lopola. Keith came out and heard my case. I had brought copies of all the emails between myself and Steve Matthews/Paul Smith/Mr. Christmas, a copy of the check, and the call journal I had started keeping. Agent Lopola told me the same thing the FBI did, "It falls under our jurisdiction, but we can't take the case." He wanted to let me know that he really felt for me. Thanks. I left the office determined to call and bother him and the Chicago PD everyday for the rest of my life or at least until Mr. Christmas was behind bars.

Finals were fast approaching. It's not very easy to concentrate on school when all you can think about all day is the fact that all of your student loans for the next semester are going to cover this counterfeit check. That and some grubby criminal has your Powerbook. It's enough to drive someone to the drink.

Tuesday night I got an email from someone who had seen my story posted on O'Grady's Powerpage, a Powerbook enthusiast site. George Dunbar had seen the story and thought it sounded eerily similar to his. I called him, we compared notes, and turns out it was the same guy. George forwarded me all of his emails. Everything was the same, word for word, it was like Mr. Christmas just copied and pasted and magically made money. George was in it worse than I was though and had completely given up. He was out $6000 and two computers. He also let me know that there were more victims. He'd talked to at least three other people who had been taken by the same guy, all of whom had just given up. I was not going to give up. That night I dreamed of Mr. Christmas and a baseball bat, some duct tape, and roofing nails.

Wednesday morning I decided I was going to Chicago. I set up another eBay auction under my girlfriend's account, this time for same computer, different city. Three hours later, lo and behold I received an email from eBay user videopro55 (the same one) asking me if I'd like to sell the computer right now for $2500. Oh yes, I'd love to sell the computer, I'll even be there when it gets delivered to make sure it gets "setup properly".

He emailed me a new address and phone number, the phone number again traced back to the same address for Mr. Christmas. I called the Secret Service and the Chicago PD, pleading, all they had to do was be there when Fedex dropped off the package. It was a guaranteed hit, he'd have another counterfeit cashier's check, all you'd have to do is arrest him. Like shooting fish in a barrel. "Sorry, Detective McDonaugh will be out until next Wednesday, can I take a message?" Fine, if the cops won't do it, I decided I'd just Priceline a ticket and be waiting next door when it got dropped off. So I'd know what kind of neighborhood I was looking at, I asked for help again in the Mac boards. Two Chicago residents replied, and the next morning, courtesy of Tim, I had 23 pictures of the house, the cars in the driveway (with license plate numbers) and the neighborhood. I'd like to see a Dell user do something like that at 4:30 in the morning for a complete stranger a thousand miles away. I started planning my trip. I decided I'd leave on Saturday, have the package delivered on Monday, and make it back just in time to screw up on all my finals.

On Friday in preparation for flying up I mapped the new address from the one for Mr. Christmas to see how close it was. As I looked at the map, it hit me. The new address wasn't in Chicago. It was in a suburb, Markham. I googled for the Markham police and 5 minutes later was talking to a very enthusiastic Sargeant Knapp. I had hit the jackpot, the new drop was outside of Chicago jurisdiction and therefore outside of their inattentiveness as well. Sargeant Knapp informed me he loved this kind of thing, even had a UPS and Fedex uniform ready. He'd call Fedex and they would set it up for Tuesday. I was certain I was dreaming. After talking to two detectives in Chicago, an FBI field agent, an agent in the New Orleans field office of the Secret Service, an agent with the L.A. Secret Service and having a conference call with a large group of agents from the Chicago Secret Service, I finally was getting somewhere. And I didn't even have to stand on someone's doorstep with a baseball bat to do it.

I spent the entire weekend on pins and needles. What if Mr. Christmas figured something out between now and Tuesday? All would be lost. I wouldn't even get the chance to confront him on my own. On Monday I spoke with Sgt. Knapp to make sure everything was ready to go. I had sent him a package with all of my documentation (he didn't have email), and I tried to explain what all the email stuff meant as best I could. He had worked everything out with Fedex and they were set for the delivery on Tuesday.

I called my brother in Nashville and had him send the package. I had set everything up to be coming from there so that Mr. Christmas wouldn't get suspicious. I could barely sleep Monday night. All I could think about was something going wrong and my only chance at getting this guy being missed. I wanted to update everyone on the Mac boards, but I had to keep it quiet until I knew something was going to happen.

Tuesday afternoon Sgt. Knapp called. They had tried the delivery but no one was home. I just wanted to scream. The board users kept posting how the suspense was driving them nuts. Well, it was going to give me an aneurism. A million possibilities went through my head. Maybe he had somebody working at Fedex who tipped him off, maybe I worded something in one of my email a little off. Sgt. Knapp called me back to let me know they would try the delivery again tomorrow. He also wanted to let me know that they had intercepted another package that was being sent to the same address. Looks like he'd already struck again, thankfully the lady from New York will get her computer back. He also told me that he was definitely going to keep pursuing this, and that oddly enough, the address I'd given him was also related to another fraud case, but this one much bigger (hundreds of thousands) involving a certain Chicago franchise I won't mention. So maybe I had led them to something bigger than just some asshole counterfeiting cashier's checks.

Today I had finals all day. I'm a 4.0 honors student. I've had a 4.0 all semester. I'm not sure if I'll keep that after today. I just couldn't sleep last night. All I could think about was Mr. Christmas and the delivery. I couldn't study either. So I winged it, I'll get my grades tomorrow. I called Sgt. Knapp at 2:45. He told me he was on his way back to the house. They'd already made the delivery and arrested the guy. He had more than $10,000 in counterfeit cashier's checks waiting for deliveries.

*I* got him.

I'm right now waiting on Sgt. Knapp to fax me a copy of his mug shot for posterity. Then I'm going to go celebrate. Sgt. Knapp said the guy was cooperating and he was going to try to recover my laptop. I'm hopeful, but I don't expect it. I might not ever get my computer back, but at least there is one less asshole on the street. When will criminals learn? You just shouldn't mess with Mac people.

For everyone on all the boards who offered their help and encouragement, I thank you. This would have been a lot harder without you. If you're ever in New Orleans, look me up and I'll buy you a beer. I've still got to figure out how I'm paying to college next semester, but I'll keep some beer money set aside for ya'll.

Oh yeah, and if there are any lawyers in the Chicago area who can file a civil suit against this guy for damages (yeah I know I'm not going to collect) please contact me, misterye a t yahoo d o t com

The sites with great users that helped out (you can sign up for the forums and read all about this as it was going on): MacRumors.com MacNN ThinkSecret O'Grady's PowerPage

Update 12/11/02 18:58 CST: Sgt. Knapp is sending me a copy of Mr. Christmas's mug shot. I'll post it as soon as I get it.

Update 12/11/02 21:39 CST: For those interesting in getting in contact with me, my email address is misterye at yahoo dot com, if you think you were also a victim, please call me at 504-894-1243 and I'll put you in touch with the appropriate people.

Update 12/11/02 23:36 CST: I've gone back through and added links where appropriate. I'll try to reformat this tomorrow.

Update 12/12/02 10:36 CST: Ok, so how's this for small world: Apparently this thing is getting posted everywhere. I just got a call from Matt of the Real World Season 9 (the New Orleans Real World). So anyway, the cast of the New Orleans Real World used to all work at 735 Nightclub. I moved down here to actually take-over their marketing right after the show ended. So I never met Matt or any of them until speaking to him today. Small, weird world.

Update 12/12/02 12:03 CST: I've added a forum where everyone can talk about this. Here it is.

Update 12/12/02 13:30 CST: For those of you wanting to donate to my cause, I urge you to choose a local charity. There are a lot of needy people and organizations out there this season, if you can't think of anything local, I'm a big fan of Doctor's Without Borders and Lambda International. If you really must, you can send money to my girlfriend's Paypal account, cranberry_coyote@hotmail.com. She's the one who's covering this check for me right now, so I guess she should get this. I'm still not entirely sure about this, but you've insisted. Thanks again.

Last update Wednesday, December 12th 13:49 PM CST

Copyright 2002 Jason Eric Smith

Re:here goes (1, Redundant)

Mr Guy (547690) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874925)

Boy what is it about an article on a Mac user that made so many people realize the server was going to burn fast?

All would've been different... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Cowtard (573891) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874886)

...if this guy had just waited to ship the item until the payment had cleared. If the buyer wasn't interested in that, then wait for another buyer who *is* willing.

Would've saved him a lot more trouble and money in the long run.

"doing god knows what with it"? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4874888)

"It's hard to sleep comfortably knowing some asshole has your Mac and is doing god knows what with it."

Are we sure this guy sold a computer and not his pet or maybe his girlfriend? And what perverts (macphiliacs?) do with Macs?

[ Cached Version ] (-1, Redundant)

ekrout (139379) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874894)

This is a "just in case" post. No down moderations are necessary. If the site remains up, leave this post at 2. Otherwise (as I suspect), please mod this up just so that others can read his story.

Mac Addicts to the Rescue
or

How I Caught a Counterfeiter with a Little Help from my Friends

a true story by Jason Eric Smith
Check out the Forum

in the interest of getting this out, no fancy layout, just hand coding. maybe i'll spruce it up later.
the names of the innocent have been changed, the names of the guilty though...

I am a college student (my second time around). Specifically, I'm studying to become a high school history teacher. I am a student with a lifelong habit though, Macintosh. I got my first Mac in 1986, a used Mac Plus with 1 megabyte of RAM a massive 40 megabyte external hardrive. Since then, I've always had to keep up, first it was the SE, then the IIsi, the Powerbook 140, and from there on, more Macs than you can shake a stick at (I missed the Mac TV). I usually keep my Mac for about 6 months, and then resell it and move up. I almost always buy used, so don't get any ideas about me being rich.

Since I went back to being a student again, I've been selling Macs more regularly, picking up good deals on used Macs locally and then reselling on eBay. I've been doing this for about two years now, its relatively easy, takes about an extra hour of my day, and usually pays the rent. In November when the new Powerbooks came out I decided I was going to buy one for myself, to keep, an early Christmas present that would come in handy for taking notes in class and finishing up a presentation I needed to do on the New Orleans school system. The day they were announced I ordered a nice new Powerbook G4 867 and found it on my doorstep only a few days later.

It was a beautiful machine, if you've never played with one in person, you won't believe it. I played with it for a couple of days, took it to school to take notes and do research on. The more I used it, the more I loved it. But, it was just too much to be carrying around, $2300 in my backpack had a tendency to make me a little nervous. I decided maybe I should turn it around and pick up an iBook. My girlfriend and I decided we would use the extra money to donate to some charities for Christmas. So on November 19th, up on eBay it went, along with an Airport Basestation and a bunch of other knickknacks. I set a buy-it-now price on a whim for $2950.

The next morning I checked my auction, a couple of bids placed, and so the buy-it-now option was gone. Checking my email I got a couple of questions about the computer and much to my surprise, an offer to buy it for $2900 from Steve Matthews, a dad with a lucky son in college who was going to be getting a Powerbook for his birthday. Steve wanted to pay for it COD, no problem, its actually how I usually sell things. I called him on the phone number he gave me to ask a couple of questions and make sure everything was on the up and up.

He reiterated that he was buying it as a last minute present for his son and since it was already setup as a package, he thought it was a good deal. Not to mention the Chicago Apple stores were still out of stock. I got home from school, packed up my Powerbook and accessories, and off they went Fedex overnight to Chicago, never to be seen again.

At 10:21AM on November 21st, a man going by the name of Paul Smith signed for my two packages and gave the driver an official cashier's check from LaSalle Bank for $3052.78 in return. The check made it back to my doorstep the next morning. I went to the bank, deposited the check and withdrew enough to go ahead and pay my rent and pick up a couple of household items. I sent an email to Steve to make sure he got everything ok and to check that nothing had been damaged in shipping. No reply. As the old saying goes, no news is good news, right?

My girlfriend and I went away for Thanksgiving, and when we got back on Friday, I had a message from my bank. The branch manager had called to let me know she had a returned item for $3052.78 and that my account was now in the negative. Seriously in the negative. No problem I thought, I'll just call Steve and see what's up.

So I dialed the number I had. In the back of my mind I expected a "this number has been disconnected message". Instead I got an answer, the voice sounded identical to Steve, so I asked if Steve was there.

"Oh, Steve, yeah, that's my cousin, he's out of town for Thanksgiving you know. He'll be back Tuesday"

"Can I leave a message for him?"

So I left my information and asked that he give me a call. That little voice in the back of my mind let out a sigh and an uh-oh. The voices were the same right? Was I being scammed? Well, if I was, I certainly wasn't going to let the weekend go by without doing a little investigating.

I started off with the information I had. His AOL email address, his phone number, and the address I shipped the computer to. The AOL address didn't yield anything. Doing a reverse lookup on the address (thanks to Whitepages.com) I got three names and phone numbers, none of which matched anything I had. The phone number didn't give me anything. I finally found a way to lookup the exchange on the number to see if it was a cell phone or a landline (Fone Finder). It came back as Nextel and I wanted to scream.

There really isn't anything you can do with a cell phone number. There are no directory services. The cell phone companies won't give out any information. And that's that. I called Nextel and pleaded with them. The customer service rep I spoke with seemed more confused than anything. He kept asking me what my Nextel phone number was and why I suspected someone was fraudulently billing to my account. I calmly explained at least three times that I was not a Nextel customer, that I was just trying to get an address for another customer I suspect has defrauded me, etc, etc. I finally gave up on Chris from Nextel, I've had customer service reps who don't even speak English who were more helpful.

I was at a dead end. I'd just sent my $2300 laptop, my Airport basestation, and a load of stuff to somebody I didn't know and all I had to show for it was a bill from Fedex for overnight shipping and a returned cashier's check. It's hard to sleep comfortably knowing some asshole has your Mac and is doing god knows what with it.

Sunday the first of December, I sprang into action full force. I called for help. I knew I wasn't going to get anywhere with this on my own, so I figured I might be able to get some help from some bulletin boards. I posted my tale of woe and call for assistance on every Mac bulletin board I could think of. I hoped that somebody who worked for Nextel, some fellow Mac addict like myself, might be willing to bend the rules a little. I wanted this guy's address and I wanted it bad. I was already pricing flights to Chicago and putting my professors on notice that I might have to miss a little class. I may have made an error in trusting this person, but I'm not someone you want to have that happen to. I will get you. I will hunt you down, and I will bring a baseball bat with me.

I got more replies than I could keep up with. Everyone wanted to know what they could do to help or at least offer support. Well, everyone except one guy who just wanted to let me know how incredibly stupid he thought I was and that he would never have accepted a counterfeit anything. I think a 102:1 great person to asshole ratio is pretty good. Several people living in Chicago offered their assistance, be it in gathering information or even forming a tough guy squad if necessary.

The most important reply I got was a pointer to an online PI service that does reverse lookups on cell phones. I was already beyond broke, but I figured $85.00 more wouldn't kill me. Twelve hours and $85.00 later, I had a name, an address, and a landline phone number for this guy. The name and his AOL email were eerily close, actually with a last name like Christmas, it would be pretty weird if it didn't match up. I couldn't believe it. A Chicago resident named Melvin Christmas had just ruined my Christmas. I was expecting William Faulkner to come popping out of the pantry at any moment and laugh at me.

I was now ready to call the police. I called the Chicago police department and filed a report. I gave the operator all of my information, including the real name and address I had managed to get. "A detective will contact you within one to two weeks, thank you." One to two weeks?!? I had this guy, I'd done all the work already, all you had to do was go pick him up. I'd even gone ahead and called Fedex and spoken to the Chicago station manager and was assured that the driver would cooperate in identifying the guy if necessary. All they had to do was pick him up. In one to two weeks he could be gone. And all the while my precious Powerbook is sitting god knows where being used by somebody completely undeserving of a Mac. I know in my heart that Mr. Christmas is really a PC guy.

I was furious. Chicago PD weren't going to do anything about this. If they were anything like the New Orleans PD, one to two weeks was likely to turn in to never. I figured I'd call Mr. Christmas myself. Let him know I was going to give him a chance to fix this, and I thought, maybe at least scare him. Let him know he was dealing with someone who would track him down no matter what, even if I had to make a deal with the Prince of Darkness to do it. Mr. Christmas said he didn't even know what email was. Obviously a PC user.

I kept checking the message boards. Maybe someone would have a better idea. I called the local FBI field office. Agent Jones was very understanding, but let me know that even though this crossed state lines, the field office didn't take anything involving less than $5000. "Try the Chicago PD".

I kept everyone on the Mac boards updated as best I could. On Tuesday I got a useful reply, try the Secret Service, counterfeiting is their jurisdiction. I made my way to the under-renovation Federal Building here in New Orleans. After walking many a dark, scary hallway, found myself at the door of Agent Keith Lopola. Keith came out and heard my case. I had brought copies of all the emails between myself and Steve Matthews/Paul Smith/Mr. Christmas, a copy of the check, and the call journal I had started keeping. Agent Lopola told me the same thing the FBI did, "It falls under our jurisdiction, but we can't take the case." He wanted to let me know that he really felt for me. Thanks. I left the office determined to call and bother him and the Chicago PD everyday for the rest of my life or at least until Mr. Christmas was behind bars.

Finals were fast approaching. It's not very easy to concentrate on school when all you can think about all day is the fact that all of your student loans for the next semester are going to cover this counterfeit check. That and some grubby criminal has your Powerbook. It's enough to drive someone to the drink.

Tuesday night I got an email from someone who had seen my story posted on O'Grady's Powerpage, a Powerbook enthusiast site. George Dunbar had seen the story and thought it sounded eerily similar to his. I called him, we compared notes, and turns out it was the same guy. George forwarded me all of his emails. Everything was the same, word for word, it was like Mr. Christmas just copied and pasted and magically made money. George was in it worse than I was though and had completely given up. He was out $6000 and two computers. He also let me know that there were more victims. He'd talked to at least three other people who had been taken by the same guy, all of whom had just given up. I was not going to give up. That night I dreamed of Mr. Christmas and a baseball bat, some duct tape, and roofing nails.

Wednesday morning I decided I was going to Chicago. I set up another eBay auction under my girlfriend's account, this time for same computer, different city. Three hours later, lo and behold I received an email from eBay user videopro55 (the same one) asking me if I'd like to sell the computer right now for $2500. Oh yes, I'd love to sell the computer, I'll even be there when it gets delivered to make sure it gets "setup properly".

He emailed me a new address and phone number, the phone number again traced back to the same address for Mr. Christmas. I called the Secret Service and the Chicago PD, pleading, all they had to do was be there when Fedex dropped off the package. It was a guaranteed hit, he'd have another counterfeit cashier's check, all you'd have to do is arrest him. Like shooting fish in a barrel. "Sorry, Detective McDonaugh will be out until next Wednesday, can I take a message?" Fine, if the cops won't do it, I decided I'd just Priceline a ticket and be waiting next door when it got dropped off. So I'd know what kind of neighborhood I was looking at, I asked for help again in the Mac boards. Two Chicago residents replied, and the next morning, courtesy of Tim, I had 23 pictures of the house, the cars in the driveway (with license plate numbers) and the neighborhood. I'd like to see a Dell user do something like that at 4:30 in the morning for a complete stranger a thousand miles away. I started planning my trip. I decided I'd leave on Saturday, have the package delivered on Monday, and make it back just in time to screw up on all my finals.

On Friday in preparation for flying up I mapped the new address from the one for Mr. Christmas to see how close it was. As I looked at the map, it hit me. The new address wasn't in Chicago. It was in a suburb, Markham. I googled for the Markham police and 5 minutes later was talking to a very enthusiastic Sargeant Knapp. I had hit the jackpot, the new drop was outside of Chicago jurisdiction and therefore outside of their inattentiveness as well. Sargeant Knapp informed me he loved this kind of thing, even had a UPS and Fedex uniform ready. He'd call Fedex and they would set it up for Tuesday. I was certain I was dreaming. After talking to two detectives in Chicago, an FBI field agent, an agent in the New Orleans field office of the Secret Service, an agent with the L.A. Secret Service and having a conference call with a large group of agents from the Chicago Secret Service, I finally was getting somewhere. And I didn't even have to stand on someone's doorstep with a baseball bat to do it.

I spent the entire weekend on pins and needles. What if Mr. Christmas figured something out between now and Tuesday? All would be lost. I wouldn't even get the chance to confront him on my own. On Monday I spoke with Sgt. Knapp to make sure everything was ready to go. I had sent him a package with all of my documentation (he didn't have email), and I tried to explain what all the email stuff meant as best I could. He had worked everything out with Fedex and they were set for the delivery on Tuesday.

I called my brother in Nashville and had him send the package. I had set everything up to be coming from there so that Mr. Christmas wouldn't get suspicious. I could barely sleep Monday night. All I could think about was something going wrong and my only chance at getting this guy being missed. I wanted to update everyone on the Mac boards, but I had to keep it quiet until I knew something was going to happen.

Tuesday afternoon Sgt. Knapp called. They had tried the delivery but no one was home. I just wanted to scream. The board users kept posting how the suspense was driving them nuts. Well, it was going to give me an aneurism. A million possibilities went through my head. Maybe he had somebody working at Fedex who tipped him off, maybe I worded something in one of my email a little off. Sgt. Knapp called me back to let me know they would try the delivery again tomorrow. He also wanted to let me know that they had intercepted another package that was being sent to the same address. Looks like he'd already struck again, thankfully the lady from New York will get her computer back. He also told me that he was definitely going to keep pursuing this, and that oddly enough, the address I'd given him was also related to another fraud case, but this one much bigger (hundreds of thousands) involving a certain Chicago franchise I won't mention. So maybe I had led them to something bigger than just some asshole counterfeiting cashier's checks.

Today I had finals all day. I'm a 4.0 honors student. I've had a 4.0 all semester. I'm not sure if I'll keep that after today. I just couldn't sleep last night. All I could think about was Mr. Christmas and the delivery. I couldn't study either. So I winged it, I'll get my grades tomorrow. I called Sgt. Knapp at 2:45. He told me he was on his way back to the house. They'd already made the delivery and arrested the guy. He had more than $10,000 in counterfeit cashier's checks waiting for deliveries.

*I* got him.

I'm right now waiting on Sgt. Knapp to fax me a copy of his mug shot for posterity. Then I'm going to go celebrate. Sgt. Knapp said the guy was cooperating and he was going to try to recover my laptop. I'm hopeful, but I don't expect it. I might not ever get my computer back, but at least there is one less asshole on the street. When will criminals learn? You just shouldn't mess with Mac people.

For everyone on all the boards who offered their help and encouragement, I thank you. This would have been a lot harder without you. If you're ever in New Orleans, look me up and I'll buy you a beer. I've still got to figure out how I'm paying to college next semester, but I'll keep some beer money set aside for ya'll.

Oh yeah, and if there are any lawyers in the Chicago area who can file a civil suit against this guy for damages (yeah I know I'm not going to collect) please contact me, misterye a t yahoo d o t com

The sites with great users that helped out (you can sign up for the forums and read all about this as it was going on):
MacRumors.com
MacNN
ThinkSecret
O'Grady's PowerPage

Update 12/11/02 18:58 CST: Sgt. Knapp is sending me a copy of Mr. Christmas's mug shot. I'll post it as soon as I get it.

Update 12/11/02 21:39 CST: For those interesting in getting in contact with me, my email address is misterye at yahoo dot com, if you think you were also a victim, please call me at 504-894-1243 and I'll put you in touch with the appropriate people.

Update 12/11/02 23:36 CST: I've gone back through and added links where appropriate. I'll try to reformat this tomorrow.

Update 12/12/02 10:36 CST: Ok, so how's this for small world: Apparently this thing is getting posted everywhere. I just got a call from Matt of the Real World Season 9 (the New Orleans Real World). So anyway, the cast of the New Orleans Real World used to all work at 735 Nightclub. I moved down here to actually take-over their marketing right after the show ended. So I never met Matt or any of them until speaking to him today. Small, weird world.

Update 12/12/02 12:03 CST: I've added a forum where everyone can talk about this. Here it is.

Update 12/12/02 13:30 CST: For those of you wanting to donate to my cause, I urge you to choose a local charity. There are a lot of needy people and organizations out there this season, if you can't think of anything local, I'm a big fan of Doctor's Without Borders and Lambda International. If you really must, you can send money to my girlfriend's Paypal account, cranberry_coyote@hotmail.com. She's the one who's covering this check for me right now, so I guess she should get this. I'm still not entirely sure about this, but you've insisted. Thanks again.

Last update Wednesday, December 12th 13:49 PM CST

Copyright 2002 Jason Eric Smith

Re:[ Cached Version ] (1, Insightful)

Latent IT (121513) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874953)

This is a "just in case" post. No down moderations are necessary. If the site remains up, leave this post at 2. Otherwise (as I suspect), please mod this up just so that others can read his story.

Seriously, since you're the THIRD person posting this, *and* the site is performing fine, I assure you, down moderations are *extremely* necessary for your karma-whoring ass. Please mod this up just so that others can read his story my ass. I'll put my +2 up here so I can get modded down right along with you.

If you're really posting this so that other people (people who are not YOU, or YOUR KARMA) can benefit, please post AC. You contributed nothing, and don't deserve to be modded up.

Cheers!

Article (-1, Redundant)

Mr Guy (547690) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874896)

Mac Addicts to the Rescue

or

How I Caught a Counterfeiter with a Little Help from my Friends

a true story by Jason Eric Smith

Check out the Forum

in the interest of getting this out, no fancy layout, just hand coding. maybe i'll spruce it up later.
the names of the innocent have been changed, the names of the guilty though...

I am a college student (my second time around). Specifically, I'm studying to become a high school history teacher. I am a student with a lifelong habit though, Macintosh. I got my first Mac in 1986, a used Mac Plus with 1 megabyte of RAM a massive 40 megabyte external hardrive. Since then, I've always had to keep up, first it was the SE, then the IIsi, the Powerbook 140, and from there on, more Macs than you can shake a stick at (I missed the Mac TV). I usually keep my Mac for about 6 months, and then resell it and move up. I almost always buy used, so don't get any ideas about me being rich.

Since I went back to being a student again, I've been selling Macs more regularly, picking up good deals on used Macs locally and then reselling on eBay. I've been doing this for about two years now, its relatively easy, takes about an extra hour of my day, and usually pays the rent. In November when the new Powerbooks came out I decided I was going to buy one for myself, to keep, an early Christmas present that would come in handy for taking notes in class and finishing up a presentation I needed to do on the New Orleans school system. The day they were announced I ordered a nice new Powerbook G4 867 and found it on my doorstep only a few days later.

It was a beautiful machine, if you've never played with one in person, you won't believe it. I played with it for a couple of days, took it to school to take notes and do research on. The more I used it, the more I loved it. But, it was just too much to be carrying around, $2300 in my backpack had a tendency to make me a little nervous. I decided maybe I should turn it around and pick up an iBook. My girlfriend and I decided we would use the extra money to donate to some charities for Christmas. So on November 19th, up on eBay it went, along with an Airport Basestation and a bunch of other knickknacks. I set a buy-it-now price on a whim for $2950.

The next morning I checked my auction, a couple of bids placed, and so the buy-it-now option was gone. Checking my email I got a couple of questions about the computer and much to my surprise, an offer to buy it for $2900 from Steve Matthews, a dad with a lucky son in college who was going to be getting a Powerbook for his birthday. Steve wanted to pay for it COD, no problem, its actually how I usually sell things. I called him on the phone number he gave me to ask a couple of questions and make sure everything was on the up and up.

He reiterated that he was buying it as a last minute present for his son and since it was already setup as a package, he thought it was a good deal. Not to mention the Chicago Apple stores were still out of stock. I got home from school, packed up my Powerbook and accessories, and off they went Fedex overnight to Chicago, never to be seen again.

At 10:21AM on November 21st, a man going by the name of Paul Smith signed for my two packages and gave the driver an official cashier's check from LaSalle Bank for $3052.78 in return. The check made it back to my doorstep the next morning. I went to the bank, deposited the check and withdrew enough to go ahead and pay my rent and pick up a couple of household items. I sent an email to Steve to make sure he got everything ok and to check that nothing had been damaged in shipping. No reply. As the old saying goes, no news is good news, right?

My girlfriend and I went away for Thanksgiving, and when we got back on Friday, I had a message from my bank. The branch manager had called to let me know she had a returned item for $3052.78 and that my account was now in the negative. Seriously in the negative. No problem I thought, I'll just call Steve and see what's up.

So I dialed the number I had. In the back of my mind I expected a "this number has been disconnected message". Instead I got an answer, the voice sounded identical to Steve, so I asked if Steve was there.

"Oh, Steve, yeah, that's my cousin, he's out of town for Thanksgiving you know. He'll be back Tuesday"

"Can I leave a message for him?"

So I left my information and asked that he give me a call. That little voice in the back of my mind let out a sigh and an uh-oh. The voices were the same right? Was I being scammed? Well, if I was, I certainly wasn't going to let the weekend go by without doing a little investigating.

I started off with the information I had. His AOL email address, his phone number, and the address I shipped the computer to. The AOL address didn't yield anything. Doing a reverse lookup on the address (thanks to Whitepages.com ) I got three names and phone numbers, none of which matched anything I had. The phone number didn't give me anything. I finally found a way to lookup the exchange on the number to see if it was a cell phone or a landline (Fone Finder). It came back as Nextel and I wanted to scream.

There really isn't anything you can do with a cell phone number. There are no directory services. The cell phone companies won't give out any information. And that's that. I called Nextel and pleaded with them. The customer service rep I spoke with seemed more confused than anything. He kept asking me what my Nextel phone number was and why I suspected someone was fraudulently billing to my account. I calmly explained at least three times that I was not a Nextel customer, that I was just trying to get an address for another customer I suspect has defrauded me, etc, etc. I finally gave up on Chris from Nextel, I've had customer service reps who don't even speak English who were more helpful.

I was at a dead end. I'd just sent my $2300 laptop, my Airport basestation, and a load of stuff to somebody I didn't know and all I had to show for it was a bill from Fedex for overnight shipping and a returned cashier's check. It's hard to sleep comfortably knowing some asshole has your Mac and is doing god knows what with it.

Sunday the first of December, I sprang into action full force. I called for help. I knew I wasn't going to get anywhere with this on my own, so I figured I might be able to get some help from some bulletin boards. I posted my tale of woe and call for assistance on every Mac bulletin board I could think of. I hoped that somebody who worked for Nextel, some fellow Mac addict like myself, might be willing to bend the rules a little. I wanted this guy's address and I wanted it bad. I was already pricing flights to Chicago and putting my professors on notice that I might have to miss a little class. I may have made an error in trusting this person, but I'm not someone you want to have that happen to. I will get you. I will hunt you down, and I will bring a baseball bat with me.

I got more replies than I could keep up with. Everyone wanted to know what they could do to help or at least offer support. Well, everyone except one guy who just wanted to let me know how incredibly stupid he thought I was and that he would never have accepted a counterfeit anything. I think a 102:1 great person to asshole ratio is pretty good. Several people living in Chicago offered their assistance, be it in gathering information or even forming a tough guy squad if necessary.

The most important reply I got was a pointer to an online PI service that does reverse lookups on cell phones. I was already beyond broke, but I figured $85.00 more wouldn't kill me. Twelve hours and $85.00 later, I had a name, an address, and a landline phone number for this guy. The name and his AOL email were eerily close, actually with a last name like Christmas, it would be pretty weird if it didn't match up. I couldn't believe it. A Chicago resident named Melvin Christmas had just ruined my Christmas. I was expecting William Faulkner to come popping out of the pantry at any moment and laugh at me.

I was now ready to call the police. I called the Chicago police department and filed a report. I gave the operator all of my information, including the real name and address I had managed to get. "A detective will contact you within one to two weeks, thank you." One to two weeks?!? I had this guy, I'd done all the work already, all you had to do was go pick him up. I'd even gone ahead and called Fedex and spoken to the Chicago station manager and was assured that the driver would cooperate in identifying the guy if necessary. All they had to do was pick him up. In one to two weeks he could be gone. And all the while my precious Powerbook is sitting god knows where being used by somebody completely undeserving of a Mac. I know in my heart that Mr. Christmas is really a PC guy.

I was furious. Chicago PD weren't going to do anything about this. If they were anything like the New Orleans PD, one to two weeks was likely to turn in to never. I figured I'd call Mr. Christmas myself. Let him know I was going to give him a chance to fix this, and I thought, maybe at least scare him. Let him know he was dealing with someone who would track him down no matter what, even if I had to make a deal with the Prince of Darkness to do it. Mr. Christmas said he didn't even know what email was. Obviously a PC user.

I kept checking the message boards. Maybe someone would have a better idea. I called the local FBI field office. Agent Jones was very understanding, but let me know that even though this crossed state lines, the field office didn't take anything involving less than $5000. "Try the Chicago PD".

I kept everyone on the Mac boards updated as best I could. On Tuesday I got a useful reply, try the Secret Service, counterfeiting is their jurisdiction. I made my way to the under-renovation Federal Building here in New Orleans. After walking many a dark, scary hallway, found myself at the door of Agent Keith Lopola. Keith came out and heard my case. I had brought copies of all the emails between myself and Steve Matthews/Paul Smith/Mr. Christmas, a copy of the check, and the call journal I had started keeping. Agent Lopola told me the same thing the FBI did, "It falls under our jurisdiction, but we can't take the case." He wanted to let me know that he really felt for me. Thanks. I left the office determined to call and bother him and the Chicago PD everyday for the rest of my life or at least until Mr. Christmas was behind bars.

Finals were fast approaching. It's not very easy to concentrate on school when all you can think about all day is the fact that all of your student loans for the next semester are going to cover this counterfeit check. That and some grubby criminal has your Powerbook. It's enough to drive someone to the drink.

Tuesday night I got an email from someone who had seen my story posted on O'Grady's Powerpage , a Powerbook enthusiast site. George Dunbar had seen the story and thought it sounded eerily similar to his. I called him, we compared notes, and turns out it was the same guy. George forwarded me all of his emails. Everything was the same, word for word, it was like Mr. Christmas just copied and pasted and magically made money. George was in it worse than I was though and had completely given up. He was out $6000 and two computers. He also let me know that there were more victims. He'd talked to at least three other people who had been taken by the same guy, all of whom had just given up. I was not going to give up. That night I dreamed of Mr. Christmas and a baseball bat, some duct tape, and roofing nails.

Wednesday morning I decided I was going to Chicago. I set up another eBay auction under my girlfriend's account, this time for same computer, different city. Three hours later, lo and behold I received an email from eBay user videopro55 (the same one) asking me if I'd like to sell the computer right now for $2500. Oh yes, I'd love to sell the computer, I'll even be there when it gets delivered to make sure it gets "setup properly".

He emailed me a new address and phone number, the phone number again traced back to the same address for Mr. Christmas. I called the Secret Service and the Chicago PD, pleading, all they had to do was be there when Fedex dropped off the package. It was a guaranteed hit, he'd have another counterfeit cashier's check, all you'd have to do is arrest him. Like shooting fish in a barrel. "Sorry, Detective McDonaugh will be out until next Wednesday, can I take a message?" Fine, if the cops won't do it, I decided I'd just Priceline a ticket and be waiting next door when it got dropped off. So I'd know what kind of neighborhood I was looking at, I asked for help again in the Mac boards. Two Chicago residents replied, and the next morning, courtesy of Tim, I had 23 pictures of the house, the cars in the driveway (with license plate numbers) and the neighborhood. I'd like to see a Dell user do something like that at 4:30 in the morning for a complete stranger a thousand miles away. I started planning my trip. I decided I'd leave on Saturday, have the package delivered on Monday, and make it back just in time to screw up on all my finals.

On Friday in preparation for flying up I mapped the new address from the one for Mr. Christmas to see how close it was. As I looked at the map, it hit me. The new address wasn't in Chicago. It was in a suburb, Markham. I googled for the Markham police and 5 minutes later was talking to a very enthusiastic Sargeant Knapp. I had hit the jackpot, the new drop was outside of Chicago jurisdiction and therefore outside of their inattentiveness as well. Sargeant Knapp informed me he loved this kind of thing, even had a UPS and Fedex uniform ready. He'd call Fedex and they would set it up for Tuesday. I was certain I was dreaming. After talking to two detectives in Chicago, an FBI field agent, an agent in the New Orleans field office of the Secret Service, an agent with the L.A. Secret Service and having a conference call with a large group of agents from the Chicago Secret Service, I finally was getting somewhere. And I didn't even have to stand on someone's doorstep with a baseball bat to do it.

I spent the entire weekend on pins and needles. What if Mr. Christmas figured something out between now and Tuesday? All would be lost. I wouldn't even get the chance to confront him on my own. On Monday I spoke with Sgt. Knapp to make sure everything was ready to go. I had sent him a package with all of my documentation (he didn't have email), and I tried to explain what all the email stuff meant as best I could. He had worked everything out with Fedex and they were set for the delivery on Tuesday.

I called my brother in Nashville and had him send the package. I had set everything up to be coming from there so that Mr. Christmas wouldn't get suspicious. I could barely sleep Monday night. All I could think about was something going wrong and my only chance at getting this guy being missed. I wanted to update everyone on the Mac boards, but I had to keep it quiet until I knew something was going to happen.

Tuesday afternoon Sgt. Knapp called. They had tried the delivery but no one was home. I just wanted to scream. The board users kept posting how the suspense was driving them nuts. Well, it was going to give me an aneurism. A million possibilities went through my head. Maybe he had somebody working at Fedex who tipped him off, maybe I worded something in one of my email a little off. Sgt. Knapp called me back to let me know they would try the delivery again tomorrow. He also wanted to let me know that they had intercepted another package that was being sent to the same address. Looks like he'd already struck again, thankfully the lady from New York will get her computer back. He also told me that he was definitely going to keep pursuing this, and that oddly enough, the address I'd given him was also related to another fraud case, but this one much bigger (hundreds of thousands) involving a certain Chicago franchise I won't mention. So maybe I had led them to something bigger than just some asshole counterfeiting cashier's checks.

Today I had finals all day. I'm a 4.0 honors student. I've had a 4.0 all semester. I'm not sure if I'll keep that after today. I just couldn't sleep last night. All I could think about was Mr. Christmas and the delivery. I couldn't study either. So I winged it, I'll get my grades tomorrow. I called Sgt. Knapp at 2:45. He told me he was on his way back to the house. They'd already made the delivery and arrested the guy. He had more than $10,000 in counterfeit cashier's checks waiting for deliveries.

*I* got him.

I'm right now waiting on Sgt. Knapp to fax me a copy of his mug shot for posterity. Then I'm going to go celebrate. Sgt. Knapp said the guy was cooperating and he was going to try to recover my laptop. I'm hopeful, but I don't expect it. I might not ever get my computer back, but at least there is one less asshole on the street. When will criminals learn? You just shouldn't mess with Mac people.

For everyone on all the boards who offered their help and encouragement, I thank you. This would have been a lot harder without you. If you're ever in New Orleans, look me up and I'll buy you a beer. I've still got to figure out how I'm paying to college next semester, but I'll keep some beer money set aside for ya'll.

Oh yeah, and if there are any lawyers in the Chicago area who can file a civil suit against this guy for damages (yeah I know I'm not going to collect) please contact me, misterye a t yahoo d o t com

The sites with great users that helped out (you can sign up for the forums and read all about this as it was going on):
MacRumors.com
MacNN
ThinkSecret
O'Grady's PowerPage

Update 12/11/02 18:58 CST: Sgt. Knapp is sending me a copy of Mr. Christmas's mug shot. I'll post it as soon as I get it.

Update 12/11/02 21:39 CST: For those interesting in getting in contact with me, my email address is misterye at yahoo dot com, if you think you were also a victim, please call me at 504-894-1243 and I'll put you in touch with the appropriate people.

Update 12/11/02 23:36 CST: I've gone back through and added links where appropriate. I'll try to reformat this tomorrow.

Update 12/12/02 10:36 CST: Ok, so how's this for small world: Apparently this thing is getting posted everywhere. I just got a call from Matt of the Real World Season 9 (the New Orleans Real World). So anyway, the cast of the New Orleans Real World used to all work at 735 Nightclub . I moved down here to actually take-over their marketing right after the show ended. So I never met Matt or any of them until speaking to him today. Small, weird world.

Update 12/12/02 12:03 CST: I've added a forum where everyone can talk about this. Here it is.

Update 12/12/02 13:30 CST: For those of you wanting to donate to my cause, I urge you to choose a local charity. There are a lot of needy people and organizations out there this season, if you can't think of anything local, I'm a big fan of Doctor's Without Borders and Lambda International. If you really must, you can send money to my girlfriend's Paypal account, cranberry_coyote@hotmail.com. She's the one who's covering this check for me right now, so I guess she should get this. I'm still not entirely sure about this, but you've insisted. Thanks again.

Last update Wednesday, December 12th 13:49 PM CST

Copyright 2002 Jason Eric Smith

FedEX Responsibility (4, Redundant)

rjstanford (69735) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874898)

Doesn't FedEX have some responsibility in this case? After all, if you ship something COD and they accept a counterfit check, why is that completely your fault?

I'm not saying that it isn't legally your problem, just that in an ideal world it shouldn't be. After all, presumably it would be FedEX's fault if they accepted something written in crayon on a brown paper sack ... where do you draw the line? Any ideas?

Re:FedEX Responsibility (5, Funny)

Mandi Walls (6721) | more than 11 years ago | (#4875047)

I dunno, man.

Cashier's checks look different at every bank. You can't expect the FedEx guy to whip out his cel phone and call the bank right at the guy's doorstep to check out the legitimacy of the paperwork.

He's just the messenger.

's almost as bad as relying on the manager at McDonald's to catch counterfeit $20s.

Mac users are a posse, man. They're like one big inbred family. They trust other Mac users 'cause they have some bizarre kinship for being on the short end of the tech stick.

Like us here, only with the social stick...

--mandi

Re:FedEX Responsibility (1)

jgg (566642) | more than 11 years ago | (#4875064)

I wondered that too.

Also, this guy lost his mac, I understand that, but why is he worried about being able to pay his college tuition? Is he saying the overdraft charge on the fake check was for the whole amount? That makes no sense. Is the author subtly begging for help with his tuition?

anyone notice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4874904)

how this guy bashed PC users quite abit?

Find (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4874913)

try catching him by his mac address

Invalid form key: qxYpCm4NOH ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4874923)

Form keys are teh suck!

Getting sluggish... (-1, Redundant)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874928)

The server is getting sluggish. Here is the article in case of slashdotting:

Mac Addicts to the Rescue

or

How I Caught a Counterfeiter with a Little Help from my Friends

a true story by Jason Eric Smith

Check out the Forum [remodern.com]

in the interest of getting this out, no fancy layout, just hand coding. maybe i'll spruce it up later.
the names of the innocent have been changed, the names of the guilty though...

I am a college student (my second time around). Specifically, I'm studying to become a high school history teacher. I am a student with a lifelong habit though, Macintosh. I got my first Mac in 1986, a used Mac Plus with 1 megabyte of RAM a massive 40 megabyte external hardrive. Since then, I've always had to keep up, first it was the SE, then the IIsi, the Powerbook 140, and from there on, more Macs than you can shake a stick at (I missed the Mac TV). I usually keep my Mac for about 6 months, and then resell it and move up. I almost always buy used, so don't get any ideas about me being rich.

Since I went back to being a student again, I've been selling Macs more regularly, picking up good deals on used Macs locally and then reselling on eBay. I've been doing this for about two years now, its relatively easy, takes about an extra hour of my day, and usually pays the rent. In November when the new Powerbooks came out I decided I was going to buy one for myself, to keep, an early Christmas present that would come in handy for taking notes in class and finishing up a presentation I needed to do on the New Orleans school system. The day they were announced I ordered a nice new Powerbook G4 867 and found it on my doorstep only a few days later.

It was a beautiful machine, if you've never played with one in person, you won't believe it. I played with it for a couple of days, took it to school to take notes and do research on. The more I used it, the more I loved it. But, it was just too much to be carrying around, $2300 in my backpack had a tendency to make me a little nervous. I decided maybe I should turn it around and pick up an iBook. My girlfriend and I decided we would use the extra money to donate to some charities for Christmas. So on November 19th, up on eBay it went, along with an Airport Basestation and a bunch of other knickknacks. I set a buy-it-now price on a whim for $2950.

The next morning I checked my auction, a couple of bids placed, and so the buy-it-now option was gone. Checking my email I got a couple of questions about the computer and much to my surprise, an offer to buy it for $2900 from Steve Matthews, a dad with a lucky son in college who was going to be getting a Powerbook for his birthday. Steve wanted to pay for it COD, no problem, its actually how I usually sell things. I called him on the phone number he gave me to ask a couple of questions and make sure everything was on the up and up.

He reiterated that he was buying it as a last minute present for his son and since it was already setup as a package, he thought it was a good deal. Not to mention the Chicago Apple stores were still out of stock. I got home from school, packed up my Powerbook and accessories, and off they went Fedex overnight to Chicago, never to be seen again.

At 10:21AM on November 21st, a man going by the name of Paul Smith signed for my two packages and gave the driver an official cashier's check from LaSalle Bank for $3052.78 in return. The check made it back to my doorstep the next morning. I went to the bank, deposited the check and withdrew enough to go ahead and pay my rent and pick up a couple of household items. I sent an email to Steve to make sure he got everything ok and to check that nothing had been damaged in shipping. No reply. As the old saying goes, no news is good news, right?

My girlfriend and I went away for Thanksgiving, and when we got back on Friday, I had a message from my bank. The branch manager had called to let me know she had a returned item for $3052.78 and that my account was now in the negative. Seriously in the negative. No problem I thought, I'll just call Steve and see what's up.

So I dialed the number I had. In the back of my mind I expected a "this number has been disconnected message". Instead I got an answer, the voice sounded identical to Steve, so I asked if Steve was there.

"Oh, Steve, yeah, that's my cousin, he's out of town for Thanksgiving you know. He'll be back Tuesday"

"Can I leave a message for him?"

So I left my information and asked that he give me a call. That little voice in the back of my mind let out a sigh and an uh-oh. The voices were the same right? Was I being scammed? Well, if I was, I certainly wasn't going to let the weekend go by without doing a little investigating.

I started off with the information I had. His AOL email address, his phone number, and the address I shipped the computer to. The AOL address didn't yield anything. Doing a reverse lookup on the address (thanks to Whitepages.com [whitepages.com] ) I got three names and phone numbers, none of which matched anything I had. The phone number didn't give me anything. I finally found a way to lookup the exchange on the number to see if it was a cell phone or a landline (Fone Finder [primeris.com] ). It came back as Nextel and I wanted to scream.

There really isn't anything you can do with a cell phone number. There are no directory services. The cell phone companies won't give out any information. And that's that. I called Nextel and pleaded with them. The customer service rep I spoke with seemed more confused than anything. He kept asking me what my Nextel phone number was and why I suspected someone was fraudulently billing to my account. I calmly explained at least three times that I was not a Nextel customer, that I was just trying to get an address for another customer I suspect has defrauded me, etc, etc. I finally gave up on Chris from Nextel, I've had customer service reps who don't even speak English who were more helpful.

I was at a dead end. I'd just sent my $2300 laptop, my Airport basestation, and a load of stuff to somebody I didn't know and all I had to show for it was a bill from Fedex for overnight shipping and a returned cashier's check. It's hard to sleep comfortably knowing some asshole has your Mac and is doing god knows what with it.

Sunday the first of December, I sprang into action full force. I called for help. I knew I wasn't going to get anywhere with this on my own, so I figured I might be able to get some help from some bulletin boards. I posted my tale of woe and call for assistance on every Mac bulletin board I could think of. I hoped that somebody who worked for Nextel, some fellow Mac addict like myself, might be willing to bend the rules a little. I wanted this guy's address and I wanted it bad. I was already pricing flights to Chicago and putting my professors on notice that I might have to miss a little class. I may have made an error in trusting this person, but I'm not someone you want to have that happen to. I will get you. I will hunt you down, and I will bring a baseball bat with me.

I got more replies than I could keep up with. Everyone wanted to know what they could do to help or at least offer support. Well, everyone except one guy who just wanted to let me know how incredibly stupid he thought I was and that he would never have accepted a counterfeit anything. I think a 102:1 great person to asshole ratio is pretty good. Several people living in Chicago offered their assistance, be it in gathering information or even forming a tough guy squad if necessary.

The most important reply I got was a pointer to an online PI service that does reverse lookups on cell phones. I was already beyond broke, but I figured $85.00 more wouldn't kill me. Twelve hours and $85.00 later, I had a name, an address, and a landline phone number for this guy. The name and his AOL email were eerily close, actually with a last name like Christmas, it would be pretty weird if it didn't match up. I couldn't believe it. A Chicago resident named Melvin Christmas had just ruined my Christmas. I was expecting William Faulkner to come popping out of the pantry at any moment and laugh at me.

I was now ready to call the police. I called the Chicago police department and filed a report. I gave the operator all of my information, including the real name and address I had managed to get. "A detective will contact you within one to two weeks, thank you." One to two weeks?!? I had this guy, I'd done all the work already, all you had to do was go pick him up. I'd even gone ahead and called Fedex and spoken to the Chicago station manager and was assured that the driver would cooperate in identifying the guy if necessary. All they had to do was pick him up. In one to two weeks he could be gone. And all the while my precious Powerbook is sitting god knows where being used by somebody completely undeserving of a Mac. I know in my heart that Mr. Christmas is really a PC guy.

I was furious. Chicago PD weren't going to do anything about this. If they were anything like the New Orleans PD, one to two weeks was likely to turn in to never. I figured I'd call Mr. Christmas myself. Let him know I was going to give him a chance to fix this, and I thought, maybe at least scare him. Let him know he was dealing with someone who would track him down no matter what, even if I had to make a deal with the Prince of Darkness to do it. Mr. Christmas said he didn't even know what email was. Obviously a PC user.

I kept checking the message boards. Maybe someone would have a better idea. I called the local FBI field office. Agent Jones was very understanding, but let me know that even though this crossed state lines, the field office didn't take anything involving less than $5000. "Try the Chicago PD".

I kept everyone on the Mac boards updated as best I could. On Tuesday I got a useful reply, try the Secret Service, counterfeiting is their jurisdiction. I made my way to the under-renovation Federal Building here in New Orleans. After walking many a dark, scary hallway, found myself at the door of Agent Keith Lopola. Keith came out and heard my case. I had brought copies of all the emails between myself and Steve Matthews/Paul Smith/Mr. Christmas, a copy of the check, and the call journal I had started keeping. Agent Lopola told me the same thing the FBI did, "It falls under our jurisdiction, but we can't take the case." He wanted to let me know that he really felt for me. Thanks. I left the office determined to call and bother him and the Chicago PD everyday for the rest of my life or at least until Mr. Christmas was behind bars.

Finals were fast approaching. It's not very easy to concentrate on school when all you can think about all day is the fact that all of your student loans for the next semester are going to cover this counterfeit check. That and some grubby criminal has your Powerbook. It's enough to drive someone to the drink.

Tuesday night I got an email from someone who had seen my story [powerpage.org] posted on O'Grady's Powerpage [powerpage.org] , a Powerbook enthusiast site. George Dunbar had seen the story and thought it sounded eerily similar to his. I called him, we compared notes, and turns out it was the same guy. George forwarded me all of his emails. Everything was the same, word for word, it was like Mr. Christmas just copied and pasted and magically made money. George was in it worse than I was though and had completely given up. He was out $6000 and two computers. He also let me know that there were more victims. He'd talked to at least three other people who had been taken by the same guy, all of whom had just given up. I was not going to give up. That night I dreamed of Mr. Christmas and a baseball bat, some duct tape, and roofing nails.

Wednesday morning I decided I was going to Chicago. I set up another eBay auction under my girlfriend's account, this time for same computer, different city. Three hours later, lo and behold I received an email from eBay user videopro55 (the same one) asking me if I'd like to sell the computer right now for $2500. Oh yes, I'd love to sell the computer, I'll even be there when it gets delivered to make sure it gets "setup properly".

He emailed me a new address and phone number, the phone number again traced back to the same address for Mr. Christmas. I called the Secret Service and the Chicago PD, pleading, all they had to do was be there when Fedex dropped off the package. It was a guaranteed hit, he'd have another counterfeit cashier's check, all you'd have to do is arrest him. Like shooting fish in a barrel. "Sorry, Detective McDonaugh will be out until next Wednesday, can I take a message?" Fine, if the cops won't do it, I decided I'd just Priceline a ticket and be waiting next door when it got dropped off. So I'd know what kind of neighborhood I was looking at, I asked for help again in the Mac boards. Two Chicago residents replied, and the next morning, courtesy of Tim, I had 23 pictures [slashdot.org] of the house, the cars in the driveway (with license plate numbers) and the neighborhood. I'd like to see a Dell user do something like that at 4:30 in the morning for a complete stranger a thousand miles away. I started planning my trip. I decided I'd leave on Saturday, have the package delivered on Monday, and make it back just in time to screw up on all my finals.

On Friday in preparation for flying up I mapped the new address from the one for Mr. Christmas to see how close it was. As I looked at the map, it hit me. The new address wasn't in Chicago. It was in a suburb, Markham. I googled for the Markham police and 5 minutes later was talking to a very enthusiastic Sargeant Knapp. I had hit the jackpot, the new drop was outside of Chicago jurisdiction and therefore outside of their inattentiveness as well. Sargeant Knapp informed me he loved this kind of thing, even had a UPS and Fedex uniform ready. He'd call Fedex and they would set it up for Tuesday. I was certain I was dreaming. After talking to two detectives in Chicago, an FBI field agent, an agent in the New Orleans field office of the Secret Service, an agent with the L.A. Secret Service and having a conference call with a large group of agents from the Chicago Secret Service, I finally was getting somewhere. And I didn't even have to stand on someone's doorstep with a baseball bat to do it.

I spent the entire weekend on pins and needles. What if Mr. Christmas figured something out between now and Tuesday? All would be lost. I wouldn't even get the chance to confront him on my own. On Monday I spoke with Sgt. Knapp to make sure everything was ready to go. I had sent him a package with all of my documentation (he didn't have email), and I tried to explain what all the email stuff meant as best I could. He had worked everything out with Fedex and they were set for the delivery on Tuesday.

I called my brother in Nashville and had him send the package. I had set everything up to be coming from there so that Mr. Christmas wouldn't get suspicious. I could barely sleep Monday night. All I could think about was something going wrong and my only chance at getting this guy being missed. I wanted to update everyone on the Mac boards, but I had to keep it quiet until I knew something was going to happen.

Tuesday afternoon Sgt. Knapp called. They had tried the delivery but no one was home. I just wanted to scream. The board users kept posting how the suspense was driving them nuts. Well, it was going to give me an aneurism. A million possibilities went through my head. Maybe he had somebody working at Fedex who tipped him off, maybe I worded something in one of my email a little off. Sgt. Knapp called me back to let me know they would try the delivery again tomorrow. He also wanted to let me know that they had intercepted another package that was being sent to the same address. Looks like he'd already struck again, thankfully the lady from New York will get her computer back. He also told me that he was definitely going to keep pursuing this, and that oddly enough, the address I'd given him was also related to another fraud case, but this one much bigger (hundreds of thousands) involving a certain Chicago franchise I won't mention. So maybe I had led them to something bigger than just some asshole counterfeiting cashier's checks.

Today I had finals all day. I'm a 4.0 honors student. I've had a 4.0 all semester. I'm not sure if I'll keep that after today. I just couldn't sleep last night. All I could think about was Mr. Christmas and the delivery. I couldn't study either. So I winged it, I'll get my grades tomorrow. I called Sgt. Knapp at 2:45. He told me he was on his way back to the house. They'd already made the delivery and arrested the guy. He had more than $10,000 in counterfeit cashier's checks waiting for deliveries.

*I* got him.

I'm right now waiting on Sgt. Knapp to fax me a copy of his mug shot for posterity. Then I'm going to go celebrate. Sgt. Knapp said the guy was cooperating and he was going to try to recover my laptop. I'm hopeful, but I don't expect it. I might not ever get my computer back, but at least there is one less asshole on the street. When will criminals learn? You just shouldn't mess with Mac people.

For everyone on all the boards who offered their help and encouragement, I thank you. This would have been a lot harder without you. If you're ever in New Orleans, look me up and I'll buy you a beer. I've still got to figure out how I'm paying to college next semester, but I'll keep some beer money set aside for ya'll.

Oh yeah, and if there are any lawyers in the Chicago area who can file a civil suit against this guy for damages (yeah I know I'm not going to collect) please contact me, misterye a t yahoo d o t com

The sites with great users that helped out (you can sign up for the forums and read all about this as it was going on):
MacRumors.com [macrumors.com]
MacNN [macnn.com]
ThinkSecret [thinksecret.com]
O'Grady's PowerPage [powerpage.org]

Update 12/11/02 18:58 CST: Sgt. Knapp is sending me a copy of Mr. Christmas's mug shot. I'll post it as soon as I get it.

Update 12/11/02 21:39 CST: For those interesting in getting in contact with me, my email address is misterye at yahoo dot com, if you think you were also a victim, please call me at 504-894-1243 and I'll put you in touch with the appropriate people.

Update 12/11/02 23:36 CST: I've gone back through and added links where appropriate. I'll try to reformat this tomorrow.

Update 12/12/02 10:36 CST: Ok, so how's this for small world: Apparently this thing is getting posted everywhere. I just got a call from Matt [supa-fly.com] of the Real World Season 9 (the New Orleans Real World) [mtv.com] . So anyway, the cast of the New Orleans Real World used to all work at 735 Nightclub [club735.com] . I moved down here to actually take-over their marketing right after the show ended. So I never met Matt or any of them until speaking to him today. Small, weird world.

Update 12/12/02 12:03 CST: I've added a forum where everyone can talk about this. Here it is. [remodern.com]

Update 12/12/02 13:30 CST: For those of you wanting to donate to my cause, I urge you to choose a local charity. There are a lot of needy people and organizations out there this season, if you can't think of anything local, I'm a big fan of Doctor's Without Borders and Lambda International. If you really must, you can send money to my girlfriend's Paypal account, cranberry_coyote@hotmail.com. She's the one who's covering this check for me right now, so I guess she should get this. I'm still not entirely sure about this, but you've insisted. Thanks again.

Last update Wednesday, December 12th 13:49 PM CST

Copyright 2002 Jason Eric Smith

Naughty (2)

Superfreaker (581067) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874931)

"It's hard to sleep comfortably knowing some asshole has your Mac and is doing god knows what with it."

If he's a normal user, he's probably filling the various ports and orafices with various..uh..plug-like devices.

Note to self (2, Funny)

eclectric (528520) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874938)

Don't fuck with the Mac Heads.

this reminds me of an episode of South Park where a kid sold Cartman some pubic hair, and cartman got the kid back by tricking the kid into eating the kid's parents.

Every group has the zealots (2, Insightful)

clutch110 (528473) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874945)

It's sad that, even to all the great lengths he went to, all PC users to him are bad guys. Congrats on getting the guy who stole your Mac, but maybe you will find time to realize it's the community your in and it has nothing to do the type of computer you use.

Macs and baseball bats... (2)

Wee (17189) | more than 11 years ago | (#4875042)

No doubt. Between the fixation on baseball bats and how evil "PC" (I assume his loathing extends to Linux and *BSD x86 users as well) that was a hard article to read. The guy's practically foaming at the mouth with his rabid Mac-ness...

Get a grip, pal. It's only an operating system.

-B

Why go through all that trouble to figure out... (1)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874948)

... where the guy lived?

Didn't he know where he sent the laptop to?

Re:Why go through all that trouble to figure out.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4874979)

he went through all of that cause he's a mac user and therefore a complete dumbass

Schizophrenic (2, Interesting)

Superfreaker (581067) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874970)

"My girlfriend and I decided we would use the extra money to donate to some charities for Christmas"

"but I'm not someone you want to have that happen to. I will get you. I will hunt you down, and I will bring a baseball bat with me."

Go against ebay rules, get burned (5, Insightful)

Nefrayu (601593) | more than 11 years ago | (#4874985)

Ok, so it sounds like from this article the guy listed his system on eBay, but then sold it to a guy who "saw his ad" on eBay, but didn't actually bid on the item. This is 1. Against eBay rules for selling, and 2. Stupid. There's no way to get any kind of verification on who it was he was talking with (as he found out), no way to check out the guy's prior habits (via feedback), and no way to get back at the guy without a lot of effort. Every sale on eBay is insured up to a certain amount, with fraud protection offered through PayPal and through credit cards, COD is also the worst way to go.
I tell everyone who contacts me in this manner to bid on my auctions. Period. There's a reason eBay has these rules, and this is one of them.
But, no one ever said Mac users were the shiniest apples in the barrel.

In Soviet Russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4875004)

You don't write comments containing the full text of an article...

THE FULL TEXT OF THE ARTICLE WRITES COMMENTS CONTAINING YOU!

Wait...that didn't make any sense whatsoever...

If I were ekrout... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4875005)

Here's more links on ebay scammers from my personal links (not google!)!!! These ought to be informative! +5 Informative if you ask me! Give me karma! Give me friends! I guess the magic number of characters per line is 40! I can do that because I'm ekrout! I'm starting to sound like Frank Grimes berating Homer Simpson! Wow!

Confessions of a scam artist [msnbc.com]
... Confessions of a scam artist. Before his 16th birthday, Hue had stolen
$5,000 running auction scams on Yahoo and eBay. It was child's play, ...
www.msnbc.com/news/790212.asp - 75k - Cached [216.239.33.100] - Similar pages [slashdot.org]

Charges filed in alleged eBay scam [msnbc.com]
... Click Here. Charges filed in alleged eBay scam. LA man charged with
26 counts of grand theft. LOS ANGELES, Dec. 4 -- A Los Angeles ...
www.msnbc.com/news/843312.asp?0si=- - 48k - Dec. 12, 2002 - Cached [216.239.33.100] - Similar pages [slashdot.org]
[ More results from www.msnbc.com [slashdot.org] ]

Fool.com: Fools Team to Fight eBay Scam [News] May 2, 2001 [fool.com]
... This way, every time a scam artist tries to take advantage of a seller ... eBay's response
eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove says this particular scam pops up from ...
www.fool.com/news/2001/ebay010502.htm - 30k - Cached [216.239.33.100] - Similar pages [slashdot.org]

TechTV | Source of EBay Scam Found [techtv.com]
... Ebay wants to protect its trademark, but says it's tough to find
criminals like the email scam artist. It's very hard to track ...
www.techtv.com/news/security/story/ 0,24195,3408892,00.html - 38k - Dec. 12, 2002 - Cached [216.239.33.100] - Similar pages [slashdot.org]

TechTV | EBay Spam Scam [techtv.com]
... that's it.. Ebay wants to protect its trademark, but says it's tough
to find criminals like the email scam artist. It's very hard ...
www.techtv.com/news/security/story/ 0,24195,3408463,00.html - 39k - Dec. 12, 2002 - Cached [216.239.33.100] - Similar pages [slashdot.org]

Possible Ebay Scam - www.ezboard.com [ezboard.com]
... It looks like the scam artist is targeting bigger sellers-not small fry-so if
any of you get an email asking for information-contact ebay about it first. ...
pub131.ezboard.com/ fbliss51092frm48.showMessage?topicID=27.topic - 14k - Cached [216.239.33.100] - Similar pages [slashdot.org]

Ebay scam artists [ctlinx.org]
... to conferm the info. Scam Artist email, Name, Ebay ID, Offence. mtracker@iland.net,
Mark Campbell, tracker44, sells broken items as new.
www.ctlinx.org/ebay/ - 7k - Cached [216.239.33.100] - Similar pages [slashdot.org]

A New eBay Bidding Scam? [auctionbytes.com]
... Then at the last minute, he writes, the scam-artist could withdraw his high bid ... But
with the eBay system and other Internet bidding systems, that might not be ...
www.auctionbytes.com/pages/abu/y200/m03/abu0009/ s05 - 19k - Cached [216.239.33.100] - Similar pages [slashdot.org]

Scam artist meets fraud hunter [brockmoore.com]
www.brockmoore.com/Scams/SkylineMovies.html - 7k - Cached [216.239.33.100] - Similar pages [slashdot.org]

PayPal - Internet Info for Real People [thebee.com]
... a correction had to be added as MSNBC incorrectly reported the scam artist could
access credit card and bank account information. The eBay community quickly ...
www.thebee.com/bweb/iinfo217.htm - 18k - Cached [216.239.33.100] - Similar pages [slashdot.org]

The broken window theory (5, Interesting)

Fished (574624) | more than 11 years ago | (#4875007)

One of the things he mentions is tha tthe FBI and Secret Service were not interested in anything less than $5000. Chicago police just weren't interested... This brings up something called "the broken window theory." It goes like this: some socioligists whose names escape me observed that, as long as no window was broken in a building, they tended to stay unbroken. However, as soon as one was broken, if it was not repaired every window in the building would be broken in a couple of weeks.

The idea here is that, by ignoring small crimes, the police miss chances to prevent big crimes. The funny thing is that the people wanted for "small" (I don't think of $3000 as small, but that's just me) crimes are often pulling the same scam again and again - but no one ever turns them in. These "small" scams can add up to really large amounts of money and become big ones.

A few years ago, we had a homeless man who we gave a household job to steal a check out of my wife's checkbook. We only found out when we got a call from the grocery store, asking if we had actually written the check. Of course we hadn't -- the reason the grocery store had called us was that the guy had pulled the same stunt, at the same grocery store, seven times before. No one ever pressed charges. Well, we pressed charges, and it turned out the guy was also wanted for 10 counts of car theft, forging, fraud, etc. etc. ad nauseam. The really nauseating part? The police never followed through on our theft and forgery complaints, even though this guy had dozens of similar complaints against him.

So, the bottom line in my not so humble opinion is that, if you want to prevent crime, you don't need to outlaw guns or anything: just start enforcing the laws you already have.

Re:The broken window theory (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4875049)

you should have planted a joint on him before calling the cops, that would have got them interested.

I HOPE I AM NOT TOO LATE FOR YOU ALL TO READ THIS (-1, Troll)

NDPTAL85 (260093) | more than 11 years ago | (#4875016)

This is a GOOD story. Please read ALL of it before commenting here on Slashdot. Thats right, actually READ the story, from left to right each line until you run out of words to read. Thanks!

IN SOVIET RUSSIA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4875021)

In Soviet Russia, computer sell YOU!

Please Help - Need Karma! (1)

johnalex (147270) | more than 11 years ago | (#4875038)

Wow. This is the first time in years of /.'ing I've seen the text of a story posted 4 times.

If you really need karma that badly, you have either a confidence crisis or a desperate need for friends. Heck, I'll loan you some karma - as soon as the Slashcode lets me. Hmm, that's an idea....

COD=BAD (1)

autojive (560399) | more than 11 years ago | (#4875043)

I'm glad that he helped catch the guy, it sucks to lose something costing that much. I have one word of advice though, NEVER accept COD as a payment method over ebay. I always, ALWAYS get payment before shipping whatever I happen to be selling to make sure that I actually have the money and it's cleared before I make the mistake of sending something out in good faith. If my buyer doesn't agree to this method, I find someone else who will.

Awfully dangerous (5, Insightful)

interstellar_donkey (200782) | more than 11 years ago | (#4875052)

This story should be fowarded to everyone at the Chicago police. It should be an embarassment for them.

The ho hum attitude of law inforcement regarding things done on the Internet is sad, and scary. If the young man hadn't finally been able to contact an agency that actually wanted to do their job (stop crime), who knows where it would have gone.

Being a vigilante is never a good idea, but when the police don't do anything, it leaves the average person little choice.

I suspect we'll start seeing this more and more in the future, as long as law enforcement refuses to act on these things. Why should a person have to spend their own time and money in order to stop criminals? Are we going to reach a point where the only way someone can get an investigation is if they pay somebody to do it? I thought that's what our taxes which paid for police departments were supposed to do.

Just wait.. Withen a few years somebodys going to get killed because the police sat on their hands and a frustrated victim did their footwork and blows the person who scammed them away.
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