I was about one step away from being sent to jail yesterday.
I'm not joking.
Earlier this week a guy responded to an ad I had on Craigslist looking for someone to give his 14-year-old son piano lessons during his month's visit to the Bay Area. They guy claimed he was on vacation in South Africa and told me that his boss would be sending me a check. I was to cash the check, take out the money he agreed to pay me for his son's lessons, then wire the rest to a nanny service, who would be taking care of his son during his stay. The whole situation sounded fine until the part about the check. I was a little wary from then on, but I let things play out until I got a check in the mail yesterday. I don't know why, but when I got it, I sat on the couch and just stared at it. I couldn't stop looking at it, and the more I looked at it the worse I felt. I looked over the security info on the back and even took it to a bank to have a teller look at it. It only took her 5 seconds to look at the check and tell me it was fake.
1. The colors were off on the top.
2. The watermark on the back didn't say, "Original Document"
3. There was no watermark on the front.
4. The bank information on the check sounded hokey.
5 The check itself was printed crooked.
The guy had emailed me that morning to tell me to send him the wire transfer confirmation numbers as soon as I had sent it. When I realized he'd sent me a fake check, I called the police. An officer came over and I told him what had happened. He told me that if I had tried to cash that check, the bank would have taken it from me, called the police and I would have been put in jail until they could confirm where I got the check. (And that I didn't just create it myself...) And I would have been liable for money that the bank wired to the "nanny service", which would have been about $3000.
Scams like this are really common on Craigslist, unfortunately. I'm glad I didn't give the guy any other information besides my address, which was reasonable because he was going to be sending his kid here. And looking back, his whole story sounded weird. I tend to be too trusting and gullible sometimes. Sheesh.
On a slightly lighter note, my hard drive gave out* yesterday. Steve worked for a couple of hours last night and a few this morning recovering what I had on there. He's brilliant. I got all my files back, but I have to reinstall a lot of my programs. I almost lost all of Sophie's pictures and movies from October and November. I also had over 300 recipes filed away in OneNote that I would have had to copy and paste (and in some cases, re-type) in again. AHHHH!!! I can't remember what else I had on there, but I'm sure I probably wouldn't have wanted it gone forever.
I made cookies last night and have probably eaten over a half dozen since. It's been a stressful 24 hours.
On a MUCH lighter note, and to Craigslist's redemption, I found a few estate sales and bought a bunch of vintage 40s-50s jewelry. Some of it I plan on taking apart and making other things, but some are very cool as is. By the way, estate sales are way fun. You pretty much walk into someone's house (most likely they've died) and buy whatever you want for cheap. They had all kinds of antique furniture, books, kitchen stuff, clothes, and you name it. If any of the SF girls reading this want to go with me next time, let me know!
* "gave out" is really a euphamism for "Nat unplugged her power cable from her docking station and forgot her laptop didn't have a battery in it, so it wasn't able to finish shutting down properly."