I’ve made nearly $500 in the past week selling off old junk I never used anyway. The impetus for my mass clean out was that I recently moved apartments to be closer to the school where I’ll start teaching next month.
I’ve been using Facebook Marketplace as a venue for my online garage sale of sorts, and the first few transactions went great. My favorite was when I sold off my first SLR camera to a well-mannered (and very country) high school boy who insisted on addressing me as ma’am. When we met for the transaction in front of a local shopping mall, he was giddy with excitement to spend his yard-mowing money on his first camera, and it was my joy to watch him click through all of the features of the SLR. I gave him a good discount and included a lot of accessories, too.
But that’s where the highlight reel ended.
Since then, I’ve had a woman message me claiming to be “a disabled mom [whose] money is very tight.” She asked me to give her a full set of dishes for free because, “My children and I just moved here from Indiana to get away from their abusive father. We had to pretty much leave everything behind and starting over. Just trying to make a decent home for them with used items I can find. If you would be willing, please let me know.” I told her I already had a buyer but that I had some lower-end dishes I’d be willing to give her for free. I never heard back from the “disabled mom”.
Next, I got a message from the daughter of some woman named “Miranda” who claimed her mom would like to buy a purse I had listed for sale, but the mom didn’t have Facebook, so the daughter gave me an email address to contact the mom. When I heard back from Momma Miranda via email, she said she was sending me a check in the mail but “included the shipment funds in the amount on the check for the mover to come for the pick up. And you are to deduct your money $600 as agreed and additional $50 for keeping the item for me and your running around and then give the rest balance to the mover coming for the pick up, I hope i can trust you with my money?”
Umm… what? The purse was for sale for $60, not $600, and the check that – sure enough – showed up the next day was for $1,650. And the check was signed John Smith. Literally. John Smith.
I didn’t cash the check or send the purse or take any action other than calling the police department for the account address listed on the check – a small town in Illinois – but they told me I had to call my local police department. The local police down here in the South aren’t going to get involved, so I called the bank listed on the check. They couldn’t help me but told me to call their local police. So I made yet another phone call to yet another small town in Illinois, and the dispatcher started to tell me to have my local police handle it, but I explained, “Look, I haven’t been personally harmed by this fraud at all. I still have the purse, and I still have my money. I didn’t give out any sensitive personal information. I am just trying to do the right thing and help these people get caught, but I have no skin in the game. No one seems to want to claim jurisdiction, which is why money laundering continues to be an effective white collar crime.”
She patched me through to the Head Deputy of Podunksville, Illinois.
He ended up being really nice and really helpful. He was appreciative of my efforts and, even though the check from his small town in Illinois was mailed from Ohio down to me in Texas, with instructions to wire the remaining funds to the “mover” in Georgia, this Head Deputy asked me to send him all of the information I’d received, both digital and hardcopies, so that he could look it over and try to prosecute these people for fraud.
I packed everything up and drove to USPS to mail the hardcopies to the Deputy. Once there, I tried to pay the $6.65 shipping charge, but my card was declined, so I had to pay with a secondary card. Back in my car, I called the credit card company, and they said there were hundreds of dollars in Uber rides charged to my card in San Francisco. In an unrelated cyber attack, my credit card number had been compromised.
People are the worst.