The Time I Got Scammed

Guys, I got scammed.

It was a scary experience, but it had a happy ending. I’m sharing my story in the hopes that the same thing won’t happen to you. Let’s get to it.

It began when I put my old Go Pro Hero 3+ camera up for sale on a smartphone app called Wallapop. This is in no way a slam against that app. What happened was just my own bad luck.

One guy messaged me through the app asking if the GoPro was still available. When I told him that it was, he immediately offered to buy it from me at my asking price of $150 and he said he would include an extra $50 for holding onto it for him until his shipper could come pick it up at my house [Red Flag #1]. He proceeded to email me and asked for my phone number and email address to make sure I wasn’t going to cheat him out of the deal. Oh the irony.

Three days after my first email to this guy, a cashier’s check for $1,200 [Red Flag #2 – there’s no reason for someone to overpay when you’ve agreed on the selling price] showed up at my house. When the envelop was delivered, it was a cash on delivery situation [Red Flag #3]. Via my bank’s mobile deposit app, I deposited the check to my bank, and it appeared to go through. After I deposited the money, the guy instructed me to take out the $200 and send back the rest of the money via MoneyGram, an online money transfer service. When I tried to do so, they said they wouldn’t be able to complete the transaction because I had never met the buyer in person. Thank you, MoneyGram, for that security feature and finally making me realize that I was indeed being scammed. When I had explained what had happened with MoneyGram to the guy, he began incessantly emailing and calling me asking where the money was, leaving angry voicemails which I couldn’t understand due to his thick accent, and his tone quickly became very threatening [Red Flags #4, 5, and 6].

What happened was that the guy managed to hack the email address of the owner of a company called Fire Island Ferries in New York and messaged me through that account. He had also somehow gotten a hold of the company’s bank account information through which he issued the $1,200 check. The check ended up being real and successfully posted to my bank account. After calling Fire Island Ferries to let them know about the situation, they informed me that their bank had refunded the money they had lost in the theft so now I had $1,200 that wasn’t mine. When I alerted my bank and explained all the details, they took the money out of my account, but I don’t know where it ended up. The happy ending in all of this is that I didn’t lose any money, I didn’t lose my GoPro, and I came out wiser in identifying the common red flags of a scam.

As it turns out, Fire Island Ferries was previously part of another fraudulent scam where one woman was paid for her old car with a check with their company’s information on it. The check ended up being a fake and before the woman realized it, it was too late because the buyer had already taken her car.

SO, the major takeaways from all of this are to always be cautious about who you do business with and if something feels off to you, it is. Ultimately, if you don’t trust the situation, don’t follow through just because there may be money in it for you. The trouble you could find yourself in is not worth it, and NEVER EVER give your bank account information to people you sell things to.

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