The Scam

Last summer, I tried to sell some old Nintendo games on KSL Classifieds (Salt Lake City’s more popular Craigslist alternative). A few hours after posting, I received a text message.

Seemed normal, so I reached out to this individual’s “brother” to see if he was interested.

Here’s what I got back.

Several things seem suspicious by this point:

  • Messages are out of order
  • He says “video game” despite my ad being for a collection of several games
  • This individual wants me to take my ad down and pay extra with a money order
  • He said kindly. Note to scammers…no one uses the word kindly except for you. It’s a dead giveaway. “Kindly” is to scammer as “meddling” is to Scooby-Doo villain.

I could have ceased all communications by this point, but I wanted to press further. I wanted to understand where this scam would go.

The response:

So… I take down my ad and this person will pay me with a money order + extra and his “mover” will come over to pick up the item. I’m super curious to see where this goes so I go along with it.

Now it starts to make sense. Here is how the scam works:

  1. Scammer asks seller to take down the ad and guarantee sale in exchange for more money
  2. Seller agrees. Takes down ad and awaits instructions.
  3. Scammer provides details of a money order that will arrive in the mail for the price of the item + extra money. Scammer probably will instruct seller to cash this money order and inform scammer when that is done.
  4. Once money order is deposited, scammer dispatches “mover” to pick up the item from seller.
  5. Several days later, the seller will learn that the deposited money order was fraudulent. This leaves seller with no item, no payment, and fees from the bank for the deposit of a bad check. And I guess the scammer gets my Nintendo games?

Anyway…I have no intention of giving my item up to the scammer, nor am I interested in seeing this “mover” in person.

…but I kind of want a souvenir from this. I mess with them a little more and then send them a fake name but a real mailing address so I can see this money order. I also mess with them a little bit by changing the item i’m selling to see if they’re even paying attention.

[not shown…message I sent scammer with details on how to get me the money order]

The next day, I received a huge batch of texts informing me that his father unexpectedly passed away. In all of the confusion, the secretary accidentally mailed out a money order for too high of an amount–about $900. I’m instructed to deposit the money order when I receive it, withdraw the accidental overage, and give that cash along with the video game to the “mover”.

Now I see where this scam becomes much more lucrative for the scammer. It’s not just that they get away with the item i’m selling…but that they also instruct me to pull out a larger sum of cash to return to the “mover”.

I didn’t bother posting the rest of the screenshots of the conversation–its mostly details about the confusion caused by the father’s death, more instructions, and pleas to continue moving forward with the transaction. It ends after a few hours of ceasing communication.

Several days later, though!…

HAHAHA they actually spent $6.65 to rush deliver a fraudulent money order to my address…complete with the fake name I provided them:

Since this scam utilized the US Postal Service, I was able to report it (along with the tracking info and origin address) for fraud investigation.  Slim-to-zero chance that anyone got caught, but I was able to document the steps of the scam to USPS. Hopefully, that information got used to better train people on how to avoid this particular scam.

Total score at end of day:
Scammer(s): -$6.65
Me: A stupid souvenir check for Pete Za

Thanks, Google Images

I’ve been using Anki along with AnkiDroid to create French flashcards. Whenever I encounter a new word/phrase I want to retain, I turn it into a highly personalized flashcard, which gets added to my Anki deck that I review daily.

For example, here is one of my noun cards for the french word for “bad luck” (malchance), featuring the first couple of things I associate with the word:

I’ve relied heavily on Google Images to make flashcard creation as quick as possible. However, Google changed something about their search algorithm within the last 6 months that has really slowed me down. Before, Google Images seemed to be like a big shotgun blast of any image tagged with or sitting in a page with words in my search term. Now, it seems like there is a new layer in-between my search and the results I see. Google Images assumes what it thinks I’m interested in, only shows me images of that category, and hides the rest. It is up to me to clarify further by clicking buttons from a list or by entirely redefining my search term. This might be valuable for some people, but it’s been a nightmare for my flashcard creation process where I have to regularly fight the image search engine to show me something I’m certain the old algorithm would have given me.

Top 10 worst examples:

10. “Pleasure”

“Hey Google. Got any pictures representing pleasure? Like maybe a stock image of someone enjoying some candy or a massage or maybe even something romantic?”

“Yeah, man. Here you go!”

9. “Honor”

“I know it’s abstract, but I’m needing an image to represent honor.”

“I’ve got you covered.”

8.  “Shuffle”

Shuffle has a lot of meanings! I might get the shuffle icon from a media player, or a deck of cards, or–”

“Cartoon chicks!”

7. “In reverse”

“Got any pictures of a car backing up or the alphabet going backwards?”

“Yeah, but this band is pretty good, too.”

6. “Damages”

*sigh* “…damages please”

“You bet.”

5. “Wander”

“Y u do dis to me”


4. “Melody”

“Surely everyone knows what a melody is. It should be unambiguous”


3. “Long lasting”



2. “Edge”


“okay I get it…he’s a wrestler. But I want a sharp edge

“I don’t even know what that is. Can you please just give me…you know… like a cutting edge?”

1. “Case”

“Fine. I’ll stop being picky. Just give me a case. Anything you’ve got. Please. Court case, computer case, briefcase, uppercase or lowercase letters, I don’t even care anymore. Heck, recommend me a phone case to buy if you want. Just please give me a case.”


Gym Stuff 2017 (Squat)

Last of the 2017 gym posts. Previous posts: deadlift, overhead press, and bench press.

This one is weird. I hate this lift.

My squat has never felt comfortable. I’m constantly fighting to improve my form but issues keep popping up like Whac-A-Mole: squat not deep enough, knees buckling inward, lower back strain, etc.

In my first two years of squatting, I was reluctant to increase weight due to form concerns. By 2016, I came to a decision that has lead to great progress: even if form wasn’t perfect, increase the weight if form was acceptable. My squat still feels awful, but its got nearly 100 more pounds on it now than it did before.

I technically hit my 2016 goal at the end of 2016 when I was motivated to reach 225 lbs (two 45 lbs plates on each side). However an injury while deadlifting at the end of 2016 caused me to halt progress. I’ve only recently started working back up, again (most recently hitting 225 lbs × 5 reps at sub 150 lbs body weight).


  • Now that i’m regularly doing reps of ~200 lbs, its ridiculous to think that there was ever a time where the most I could do was 60-80 lbs.
  • I don’t know how interested I even am in pushing this lift much higher than where it is. I like the idea of having a strong squat for functional strength and hockey…but I do not like the idea of having to buy larger pants.

Gym Stuff 2017 (Bench Press)

Post 3 of 4. Previous posts: deadlift and overhead press.

The bench press might be my favorite compound lift. It was the first compound lift I started training.

Progress has been slow, but I managed to hit my 2016 goal last week (165 lbs × 5 reps at sub 150 lbs body weight).


  • I think I graduated up a shirt size around the end of 2014.
  • All of 2015 looks like it was a huge waste of time. I wasn’t consistently on the same program or training schedule so that whole year just looks like it was “maintenance”. Next couple years weren’t awful. Slow but steady.

Gym Stuff 2017 (Deadlift)

Picking up where this post left off…

The deadlift is tied with the squat for my least favorite lift. It’s the lift that I’ve been training for the least amount of time and also train with the least frequency.

These days, I deadlift no more than two sets a week (as per my Greyskull LP program). I am interested in continuing to make progress on this lift but probably won’t increase frequency until I’m ready to move on from Greyskull.

Similar to my overhead press, I just hit my strength goal, today. (255 lbs × 5 reps at sub 150 lbs body-weight)

Thoughts after visualizing my progress:

  • 2016 didn’t look terrible, but I can see the point at the end of the year where I injured myself deadlifting and it affected my psychologically well into 2017.

    re-enactment of my deadlift form on the day I hurt myself
  • Looks like I was really close to hitting this goal a year earlier. What helped the most between last year and this year was having a gym partner comment on my form (helping me learn to keep my back neutral)
  • 2017 by itself looks crazy. Thanks Greyskull.

Gym Stuff 2017 (Overhead Press)

Last year, I set some weightlifting goals for myself for four compound exercises: bench press, overhead press, deadlift, and squat. These days, I’m hovering right around the goal weights that I set. I thought it would be fun to break down how things are going for each lift, starting with the overhead press. This also gives me a dumb excuse to play with R more.

First, some quick background. I started casually training summer of 2013. I was weak. Between then and the end of the year, I slowly got my lifts up, but I still had a long way to go before I would even be comfortable with telling anyone my numbers.

The period between 2014 and 2016 could best be described as me having “F***arounditis”. I continued to go to the gym in the mornings but would very regularly skip days due to not waking up early enough. If I did make it, I only gave myself 20-30 minutes to get any work in. I’d have spurts of motivation from reading things on /r/fitness or /r/gainit, but never any real consistency. I did make improvements, but it was messy.

At the start of 2016, I signed up for a new gym after a move. This was the start of more consistent training and was the period where I’ve made the most progress. My consistency wasn’t perfect, but it was the best year so far. It was then that I set some strength goals, something I really should have done on my very first day. The goals motivated my consistency and it was the consistency that brought progress.

For goals, I settled on the intermediate column in this website’s list of strength standards. For example as a 150 lbs male, a one rep max of 122 lbs for overhead press would put me into the intermediate column, which is defined as being above the median strength for lifters of my same weight. Not awful and no longer “below average” so that’s good enough for me.

It took me much longer than it should have, but I hit this today (105 lbs × 7 reps at sub 150 lbs body-weight).

Here’s how my progress looked for this lift (from the last couple of years of data). Note that I use an estimated 1 rep max (using Lander’s formula) which uses a weight × reps × some coefficient formula to estimate a 1 rep max.

Some thoughts/observations from this:

  • I’m definitely embarrassed about the lack of consistency before 2016.
  • The increases in the start of 2016 are largely thanks to me half-following a 5×5 lifting program. I say half-following because I was not increasing the weight as regularly as I really should have. For this, I partly blame the gym for not having 2.5 lbs weights for increases (smallest plate they had were 5 lbs plates and full 10 lbs jumps are hard).
  • I started following the Greyskull LP program in the summer of 2017 and I HIGHLY recommend it. One problem with other programs is how discouraging it is to fail a set. Failure means that you must drop the weight and it’ll be weeks until you work back up and get a chance to set a new personal record. Greyskull fixes this by having the final set be an AMRAP (as many reps as possible) set. To illustrate, if I fail a lift at 150, I must drop the weight to 135. However, if the last time I was at 135, the best I could do was 5 reps on the last set, I can now strive for 6+ reps to beat my old record. This is a GREAT design addition.
  • Top three tips I wish I could have told myself when I started
    1. Consistency above everything else. Don’t skip sessions and give yourself plenty of time to finish everything.
    2. Pick the right program and follow it as best as you can. Greyskull > 5×5.
    3. (Related to #2) If the program says to increase the weight, do it. I had many sessions where I sat at the same weight for several sessions in a row. This was a mistake because failure is part of the design of each program and the overloading is necessary.

In future posts, I’ll share the graphs of my other three lifts.