© June 06, 2009
©Discover Live Steam. This material may not be published, rewritten, or redistributed without written permission.
Have some Fun with internet “Scammers”
Written by Blake Wunderlich
The Discover Live Steam publisher has warned us to be on the lookout for scammers. Here’s what happened to me and what I did.
A few weeks ago I placed a “wanted ad” for a L.S. Manufacturing Quick Start Injector Valve on Discover Live Steam’s free text only ad section. The very next day I had a response from “Jeff Gary” in London, UK ( firstname.lastname@example.org). As soon as I read his response, which used very broken English, wrong capitalization and punctuation, I knew this guy was trying to “scam” me out of some cash.
What to do….Hmmm.???
At that point I thought it might be fun to “mess” with this idiot and catch him at his own game.
I answered him saying that “I am very interested in the “item” you have for sale”. Notice I did not use the term “injector valve” again. I asked him for the technical description and a photo of the “item”, telling him “I have to be sure it is the exact “item” I need. I will quickly send you the amount you want for it”…….I was “baiting the hook”.
He answered my reply within about one hour, telling me he had erased all the files and photos of this “item” off his computer but he was sure it was the exact “item” I wanted. Along with that he told me he would like 2,650 British Pounds ! That’s like $5,000 for an injector valve…Yikeeees!! Must be machined out of gold…..
Now this confirmed the guy was a definite “Scammer”. I again replied to this e-mail saying “I would really have liked the documentation. Since you don’t have that can you tell me what the “item” is made from, plastic, steel, copper etc? Also how long have you owned it? What supplier did you purchase it from? There are many different styles, I have to be sure it is the correct one.” Yup… I asked if it was made out of plastic….
The next day “Jeff” answered me as follows: “ Thanks for the mail. sorry i type wrongly. the asking price for the item only 265 British Pounds it is made in STEEL , have used it for just two month.”. Notice all the grammar errors? Now he “only” wanted about $500.
My next e-mail asked him what he used the “item” on. Here his is reply “Thanks for mail. i have them for bike and that of cars, and also generator which ever you want. Reply ASAP”.
There were a few more e-mail exchanges until I decided it was time to let him have it…
I sent an e-mail to him telling him that I knew from the first contact he was an “Internet Scammer”. That he had no idea what a Quick Start Injector Valve was. He has no idea what it is used for. And the price is nowhere near what it should be. I also told him I had filed an “abuse” report with Yahoo Security and sent the entire e-mail “chain” of messages along with it. Which is exactly what I did.
The point of this article is, if you think you’re being “scammed” confirm it by the method I used….Keep asking questions of the suspected “scammer”. You will be able to determine if it is a real person trying to sell a real item.
If you discover it is a “scammer” on the other end, keep asking questions, keep stringing them along. The longer we can keep them busy and tie up their “in-box” the less chance they’ll have to “scam” someone else. At the end, let them know what you’ve been doing and that they’ve been caught….If you can, file an “internet abuse report” with their e-mail provider. Yahoo had a great security section for this (contact email@example.com).
I also just started this same process with another one… (firstname.lastname@example.org). This one tells me “By god’s grace, i have the item you need at good cost”.
I hope to keep this one busy for awhile too…..Does anyone know of a program that can send about a thousand e-mails to one address???? Now that would be really fun……
Written by Blake Wunderlich
Would you like to discuss
the ideas in this article?
Post a comment or question here.
Write to email@example.com
(the subject line must contain the word discover)
Have an idea for an article?
We need your article on ....
Technical Issues such as problems and solutions associated with steam locos, hydraulic drives, electric drives, track laying and maintenance, signal systems.
Construction Projects, mostly looking for car projects (let's leave the steamer building to the print magazines). How about scenery construction or building a hand car?
Full scale railroads and museums. If you work for or volunteer for a railroad, if you've visited one recently and have a few photos and can write up a half dozen paragraphs on it, we'll be happy to put it up on the web.
Live Steam Railroads. How about a little background and a tour of your railroad or one you've visited.
The On-Line Magazine of Ridable Model Railroading