Friday, November 09, 2007

Close Calls and Cool Finds

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."


Cassia said...

Yikes! Yeah, I'd heard about the wire transfer scams (they are common on eBay, too), and I knew you'd be held liable for the money, but I'd never heard about you being put in jail if you tried to cash it! I guess it makes sense from a police point of view (to catch those who are trying to do the scam themselves), but it is really horrible for those unsuspecting innocent people! I'm really glad you had the teller look at it first! And I'm with you--my first impulse tends to be trusting. It's sad that we have to watch it! And, of course, I am so glad to hear that Steve was able to recover your files! (Good reminder... I should have Bryan back up my computer very soon...) :)

Mary said...

wow. so are the police going to prosecute that guy? did you email him back to say I know you are a scammer? scary. I'm glad you had a bad feeling and acted on it.

Nice jewelry by the way.

Anonymous said...

I had a similar experience where I lost all my data but was able to recover it. Since then I have been anal about backing up. Most people don't backup their data until they lose it.

That's crazy about the check. Good job spotting it.

The Rogers said...

I had the same scam happen to me itsnt it sad.
I would love to hit a sale with you let me know next time you go.

Chelsea said...

wow! those estate sale scores are awesome. I just looked for estate sales here in Utah...not really any, dang it.

Yes, the check scam reminds me of that commercial of the old creepy guy on the bus talking to the girl about the king of some country needing to give you money, blah blah blah. SCARY! glad you weren't arrested.

Jessie Jo said...

Look at you...already having the cops come to your house (almost) You're fitting right into the ghetto, welcome to the neighborhood!

Ah Britty said...

I love the jewelry. What a fun idea to go to estate sales. I wouldn't have thought of that. To answer your question, here is a link explaining how to get a "favicon":

Let me know if you have any questions!

Ah Britty said...

Change that. I did the Favicon through this website: Sorry!

Andrea said...

Good for you. Anything that requires you wiring money anywhere is shady. Don't ever do it! My father-in-law wired 700 dollars to London for a generator and needless to say, never got the generator.

jenn said...

Wow! I'm glad everything turned out ok. :) Love the new jewelry...can't wait to see what you do with it!

Team Chilton said...

Wow...crazy scammers on craigslist. Sheesh! If you ever hit up an estate sale around here, I'm in too! I've never been. Look going through grandma's closet.