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”

“CARTOONS.”

4. “Melody”

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

“CARTOONS.”

3. “Long lasting”

“…Lo-”

“MAKEUP!”

2. “Edge”

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.”

“k”

IMDB Top 50 + Horses

First 50 of current IMDB Top 100 with “Horse” or some variation replacing a word.

1. The Horse Redemption
2. The Horsefather
3. The Horsefather, Part II
4. The Good, the Bad, and the Horse
5. Horse Fiction
6. Schindler’s Horse
7. 12 Angry Horses
8. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Horse
9. The Dark Horse
10. Star Wars: Episode V: The Horse Strikes Back
11. Horse
12. Horse Wars
13. The Horse of the Rings: The Return of the King
14. The Seven Horses
15. GoodHorses
16. Horse Window
17. Horse of God
18. Raiders of the Lost Horse
19. Horse Club
20. The Lord of the Rings: The Horse of the Ring
21. Once Upon a Horse in the West
22. The Usual Horses
23. Horse
24. The Horse of the Lambs
25. Horse Boulevard
26. The Horse
27. Horse
28. Dr. Horselove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
29. North By Horsewest
30. Hor7se
31. It’s A Wonderful Horse
32. The Lord of the Rings: The Horse Towers
33. Citizen Horse
34. Leon, aka The Horse
35. Apocalypse Horse
36. American Horse
37. Horse History X
38. Taxi Horse
39. Horsest Gump
40. Horsigo
41. Horse of Arabia
42. Horse
43. HORSE-E
44. Horse Basterds
45. Horses of Glory
46. Horse
47. Double Horse
48. Horse
49. H
50. Terminator 2: Judgment Horse