When I first moved to Chicago, two guys come to my door explaining something about how our energy company was rebranding or something and I needed to just sign something so they could start the new service which was better yada yada and just sign it, ok?
It wasn’t until about an hour later that I realized I’d just been poached by some crappier energy company. I called them immediately and cancelled.
Scams are all over the place, and you gotta look out for ’em.
Here are a few particularly surprising capers from the folks at Reddit.
1. The Prince is Calling
My grandmother gave away my grandparents life savings to a Nigerian scammer. She fell for one of those emails from someone stating my grandfathers long lost uncle died and left them $2 Million and 2 Mercedes and they needed $5K to process the transaction. This went on for close to 2 years. The money was taken slowly.
Each time they called, it was a different excuse. The car was stuck in California in customs and they needed money to get it out. The car was halfway there but ran out of gas, or blow a tire. It was one thing after another. My dad and the rest of the family begged her to stop sending money, but she truly believed in her heart the money and cars were on their way. Sad really.
My dad contacted every government agency there was to try to stop it. But they all said they couldn’t help because she was willingly still giving them money.
Eventually, I think she came back to reality. My grandfather got on the phone and told them he thought they were a scammer and they threatened his life. Said they knew where he lived and such. So, they were paranoid for a while that these guys were going to come after them. It’s been about 5 years since all that happened and my grandfather has passed away. Now my grandmother doesn’t have enough social security to live on and my dad has to send her money to get by because she gave all hers away.
2. The Business Opportunity
I was 19 and was desperate to get out of my sh**ty job at a lumber mill and start my own business. I was approached by a random dude in a nice suit as I was loading groceries in my car one night and he started talking to me about a business opportunity.
I asked why he picked me out and he said he could tell I had a good work ethic and looked like an honest person. I bought his bulls**t hook line and sinker and travelled to a town an hour away every night for a week for “training”. Eventually I found out that it was essentially a MLM scheme but with smoke alarms. I already had a lot of self confidence issues, and that whole experience just piled it on even more.
3. Water Everywhere
I bought my house and moved in, 2 weeks later in the mail comes a water sampling kit and a flier that very much looks like it was from a company contracted by the county to do spot-tests of water quality across the system. It wasn’t, it was a company that wanted to sell me a whole-house water filter.
I told them to f**k off and still occasionally get the sampling kits.
I’ve wondered if they actually test the water or not (I’m guessing not, not even with pennies to buy test strips) and have considered putting mineral oil in one of the sample tubes and sending it back to see if they comment on my water quality when they call to try and schedule an appointment.
4. The Raffle Ruffian
Great Yorkshire show, England. Rained all day, all cars stuck in the mud in a field, tractors coming around towing the cars out one by one.
Kid walks around asking for £5 for the tow, hands a raffle ticket to everyone who paid. He was about 30 mins ahead of the tractors getting to the car.
Tractor pulls up, asks for £2 for the tow, everyone tried to hand them the raffle ticket.
Kid had nothing to do with the tractors.
He must have made £1000
5. Money for Nothing
When I was around 12, I really enjoyed playing FIFA Ultimate Team, which I’m sure many others do. However, the game at that point did take quite a bit of grinding to get a lot of in-game currency.
So I though “hey let’s find an In-Game Currency Generator”. So I downloaded like 7 of them on the internet, tried transferring coins to my account, and got 7 viruses. What a shocker
6. Dingbat Did It
My wife manages a consignment store, and one of her employees fell for this:
Guy calls and says he is Washington State Police (we live in Texas), and that the store is being investigated for tax fraud. The girl that answered is 16-17, and fairly sheltered so she is immediately freaked out. WSP guy says if she doesn’t cooperate she would be added as an accomplice, and such, but she could just get the whole issue resolved.
All she had to do is get $1k out the safe (girl was a key holder, so she does have access to the safe) and go to wal mart, get 2 $500 visa gift cards and give them the numbers to pay the back-tax, then all is fine.
Dingbat did it. Told the other workers she was taking her break, took the cash, got the cards and read off the numbers to the dude.
7. The Job Job
It was for a job I had recently applied for. I get a text and I had no reason to doubt it since I was on a job hunt and for some reason they were able to determine the position I wanted. They mention that I would need to download a messaging app to conduct a chat interview. Did everything they asked, even the whole “come back tomorrow for the continuation.”
Essentially, the scam is they make you go through that whole process and get you to give your direct deposit (aka bank) information for your “paycheck”. I almost fell for it too and was almost going to send it until I had a gut feeling because the pay was WAY too good to be true.
I contacted the actual company and they fortunately emailed back and said there have been many scams recently and that the text I got was one of them.
I’m usually very good at avoiding scams but I guess I was desperate and almost fell for one.
8. The Cover Up
I was a front desk clerk at a run-down motel. We used old-fashioned keys on a metal key ring to let people in if they left their keys inside.
A guest asked me to put his nice jacket behind the counter, telling me some reason why.
I nearly immediately after got a phone call asking me to open up someone’s room upstairs.
I came down, and he comes back shortly thereafter asking for his jacket.
It was gone of course.
The hotel owner wouldn’t let me give him any money, so I gave him my own coat, because it was cold and this run-down motel’s guests were in a bad way.
True story: on my way home on the freeway, I saw the guest driving his little pickup, wearing the jacket he’d asked me to put behind the counter.
9. Harshing My Buzz
I’m not sure if its still a thing but near Times Square NYC they sell weed from a store called Weed World or something, and it looks 100% legit but there is no THC and it wont get you high.
As a Canadian tourist I was stoked and they got me for like $40.
On my first trip to San Francisco, a guy stopped me and asked the time.
He mentioned he was late to the sold-out Metallica concert, which was happening that night. We got to talking, and, he said he had a hookup, and could probably get me into the show. So, I said sure. We hung out most of the day, visiting some tourist areas. We talked about Metallica, music, and just got to know each other.
When we got to the venue, he said he needed $20 to get the wristband.
Now, we had been hanging out all day, so, without thinking, I gave him the $20, and he headed to the box office. The minute he was out of sight, I realized it was all a scam. He never came back.
It was a super elaborate scam, because, he spent like 4 hours with me, just to make $20.
But, ever since then, I never talk to strangers. Especially in a big city. If a stranger approaches me, I just keep walking and don’t reply.
I was on a p**n website and my phone lit up saying the fbi was going to lock my phone and all this crazy things and I was freaking out so I ran up to Verizon store and was super embarrassed and the guy looks at me and takes my phone in back w a couple other guys and he comes back and says just close out the browser.
Then he leans in and says … I didn’t know girls watched p**n.
This was about 6 years ago…My face was soooo red.
But I always wonder what those guys where doing w my phone back there
12. Home Box Office
At the start of college one year when everyone was moving into houses in the usual s**tty but affordable part of a college town, a guy walked up to us and said he can get us free HBO, he’d just take $20, he knew a guy.
We’re like cool, he takes out his cell phone, walks a few steps away out of earshot, says check our TV, we go, and lo and behold, HBO! We give him $20 and he walks away.
A week later, it was gone. The dude just called HBO for some free trial week. He must have hit up every college kid moving in that day and made bank.
13. The Soy Boy
Not exactly elaborate but this girl in my fifth grade class brought soy sauce in a coke bottle once.
Then she proceeded to “share” it with me and I being the dumb**s that I was straight up open the bottle and chugged it down before even smelling it.
That was a bad day
14. The Middle Man
I don’t know if it’s necessarily the most elaborate scam of all time, but there are a range of fake sites online that offer ESTA visa for entry into the US.
The funny thing about the sites is that they actually process your visa, but they just do it by sending your details to the official site and charging you a hundred dollars or so of idiot tax.
I got caught a few years back and I wasn’t even really mad. It was such an amazingly set-up grift, and what made it even better was that you really had no recourse because they were actually giving you what you paid for.
15. You Shall Not Pass
A website faked itself as official passport department I filled the forms for passport update there made payment and all and in the end realized….
It was fake. Never got the money back!
16. The Car Caper
I put a room up for rent once. Someone applied and said they would be moving in at the first of the month. They said they were military and switching bases. This person said they were going to go ahead and ship their car out and fly in. The car arrived and was offloaded by truck.
A few days later the car was gone. The person never arrived.
A month or so later the police knocked and asked about the car. Ended up being that the car was stolen by whoever this person was that shipped it and the person who picked it up was a buyer who thought it was legit. Apparently he had a set of keys mailed to him and a fake title.
Idk if it ever got sorted but they initially assumed that I was a part of it.
17. The Crooked Cousin
Back in the late 90s, early 00s when chatrooms were popular, I met this guy there and we ended up chatting pretty much daily. He had an unusual name for the region, that should have been the first clue.
We chatted and sent letters to each other (by actual post)..tried to meet up with him so many times, but he always had something come up.
One night on new year’s eve when we were supposed to meet finally, HIS COUSIN shows up and said yea he’ll come soon, he told me to wait here with you. Pretended to call him several times to ask where he was, an hour or so later I just went back home and never talked to the guy again.
Turned out the “cousin” was the guy I was chatting with and he had made a deal with another guy to see how long I would believe all this. I can’t believe I fell for it. Keep in mind I was 16 something back then.
18. Grilling the Suspects
Someone in my super small town got their grill stolen off their front porch one day. Obviously they were like, what in the h**l? And they’re bummed.
A couple of days later, the grill shows back up on their front porch with an attached note that reads something along the lines of,
“Our son has a problem with stealing things which do not belong to him. We found this on our property and got it out of him who he took it from and made sure he brought it back to you. Please don’t call the police to report this and enjoy 4 tickets to the Cleveland Indians game on us. So sorry for the inconvenience.”
Needless to say, the people who lived there were relieved to have their grill back and went to the game that Saturday to enjoy the tickets some nice parents (presumably) had left for them to make up for their sh**ty son’s actions.
Our town was about 2 hours from Cleveland. Between the drive there and back and the baseball game, I’d say the family was gone for about 10+ hours that day. Guaranteed.
When they returned home, they’re house had been BURGLED. Everything. Electronics, cash, jewelry, ANYTHING you could think of as potentially valuable was gone.
Someone concocted a h**l of an elaborate ruse they knew would get those people out of their house for a good half a day in order to rob the ever-loving s**t out of them. All for the cost of a couple of Indians tickets.
It’s a funny story to tell, but no doubt was incredibly scary and invasive at the time to that poor family.
19. Sell Me a Rainbow
In the late 50s or early 60s, some guy came into my grandpas shop selling color TVs out of the back of a truck. The family had never had a color tv, and the price was way less than what a store charged, so he bought one.
He excitedly brought it home, plugged it in and turned it on. Black and White. He played with the knobs and antenna, nothing. No color.
The guy took a bunch of old black and white TVs, slapped a rainbow sticker on them, and sold them as color. Brilliant.
20. Call the FBI
A phone call just as I graduated high school I nearly fell for it. I was maybe 17-18 years old still looking for a job. The call goes as this:
HI, my name is John doe, and I am with the FBI. We have a warrant out for your arrest.
I’m terrified because it sounded real, so I kept listening.
It seems you owe $259.27 in taxes, you may call the IRS, or you may mail it to somewhere to sort the issue.
My heart was racing because I thought I was wanted for tax evasion before my first job. I asked my dad what I should do and he told me to call the local sheriff’s department so I did. I was relieved to hear that I didn’t have a warrant and that it was a scam.
21. Digital Looting
Not super elaborate but this guy in OS RuneScape told me about this secret easy money making technique, but it required putting on my best armor and weapons, bringing as much money as I was comfortable with, and following this dude into the wilderness.
This was before the Wilderness was nerfed to not be exploited as a scam center. I lost so much money and my full rune set armor, which was really heart breaking at the time.
I was looking for a new phone a few years ago and shopping around on used phone sections on the usual sites. Found a great deal on a Samsung, like 30% less than most of the other “like new” devices were going for. Contacted the seller and met up with them. Thinking I was being smart, I made him wait while I checked the IMEI (clean). Then I fully factory reset the phone and made sure his Google account info was no longer tied to the phone and that it was 100% under my account.
Everything looked good, phone worked, Internet worked, texting worked. Paid him and went about my life. Then like 6 months later a screen pops up on the phone with the heading of Rent-A-Center, saying something like the device has been locked due to lack of payment and to contact the store.
I looked into it and apparently RAC sells mobile devices and there is no way to tell it’s one of their devices except for there being a RAC contact listed on the device (which there wasn’t) or there being the letters RAC in the Software Information.
The security software is part of a hidden partition and once the security flag has been tripped there’s literally nothing, software wise, that can be done to regain control of the device as any attempts at firmware flashing will fail.
23. The Old Man Gets the Picture
When I was 18 or 19 I was a front end supervisor at a local chain drug store. Shoplifting was a pretty big issue, so we were always watching.
An old man came in once to return two packages of Polaroid Film cartridges, which were like $25 each. It seemed pretty clear that he had taken them off the shelf and brought them to the counter because I could see where he ripped the security tags off. This guy was definitely a pro though. He immediately asked my name, and alternated between being super nice, calling me by name and playing the sweet confused old man, and yelling “Why are you doing this to me?” He kept saying he bought the wrong type, so I told him we couldn’t issue a cash refund, but could do an even exchange.
He went and got 2 more, slightly different packs of film, did his alternating between nice and angry routine still trying to get cash, then finally accepted the exchange and left. That’s when I realized he just put the 2 new packs of film in the bag with the 2 he wanted to return and walked out with 4.
He caused enough commotion that I completely missed it. Still p**ses me off 25 years later.
24. Cat Burgled
Had a roommate with two cats.
Came home from a double shift and started making a tuna melt sandwich. Got the tuna and cheese on the bread and one cat came to the kitchen and started meowing loudly.
Typically both cats would come to the kitchen to meow that their food bowl was low, so I decided to go top it up before getting my melt in the oven.
Walked with the cat down the stairs and saw that the food bowl was brimming.
Looked down and saw that the cat I was expecting to follow me as per usual was gone. Then I heard a crash in the kitchen.
Ran back up and saw that the other cat had flipped the sandwich so the tuna fell out and both were feasting on my dinner.
25. Dumbing Down
So maybe a year ago the landline gets a call and I answer and it’s some Indian man asking me to confirm a purchase on Amazon of a $700 iphone. This is something I’m thinking my brother bought because his phone broke a day before and he’s buying it with my mother’s account. So I’m telling the guy no don’t buy it cancel it. I’m telling him my mom isn’t home and just wait for now. He keeps on saying “no we have to do it right now because his store will close lmao” (gosh I’m so dumb)
anyways so he tells me to get on Amazon and so I go get my mothers laptop and I open Amazon and I say we have no order history and he’s getting mad at me because I’m not fast enough and he needs the billing information and such.
My 12 year old brother comes and asks who I’m talking to. And I’m like “I think our other brother bought a phone for $700 and we need to stop it!” And he’s like you’re so dumb ask for the manager. And I was like….”can I speak to the manager” and the scam guy says “ok let me get her” and not even a second later the same guy using a women’s voice says “hello?”
It was the same Indian man using the girl voice and then I realized how dumb I was.
Gosh idk I’m blonde and it shows.
26. The Cruelest Catfish
A few girls at my high school catfished me using text messages, Myspace, Formspring (remember that?) and fake photos to convince me that I had met this girl and she thought I was cute but was too shy to talk to me.
Anytime we did a meetup, she would bail last second and make a comment about what I was wearing to convince me she was real and actually there to see me. This went on all summer, from May to end of August.
When school started again, the phone number texted me again saying it was all fake and they just wanted to get my hopes up for nothing and hurt me. The worst part was is they told me it was several girls at my school, but they wouldn’t tell me who.
So I went the rest of my high school years never knowing who catfished the s**t out of me, after I shared loads of personal and private info with them.
27. The Macbook Maverick
I had a Macbook I got for college in 2011. About 2014 it had started to slow down and just not really work as well.
One day I power one the computer and there is a message when I get to the home screen that the computer has a virus and I needed to call this number so they could walk me through fixing it. Big mistake, I called the number.
Nice dude on the other end, said he was from Apple and gave me all these official sounding things that made me believe it. He said I needed to provide him with my laptops serial number, as well as some other specific numbers/details to get rid of the virus. One I gave him all of this, he was able to move the mouse around my laptop screen, opening and closing different windows. I was on the phone with him as he was explaining that he was doing this and I thought it was SO COOL. Then he tried to go and purchase some subscription virus protection and THAT is when I was like “hmmm this seems fishy.”
Then i realized I had just given this person complete access to my entire computer and everything on it. I shut off the computer but by the time I got to the Apple store it was too late and long story short I was never able to use that computer again.
28. The StarCraft Scramble
In elementary school my friend convinced me that his dad worked for Blizzard and was in charge of creating StarCraft II (this being in the late 90s approximately a year or two after StarCraft came out and over a decade before the actual StarCraft II release in like 2010)
For months, every day at lunch he would tell everyone at the table about how the latest missions that he was play testing and all of the new story and the new units. The hero of StarCraft II was a Terran FireBat named Bon Jovi and he had a Protoss girlfriend named Xena. For like a full year we would hear all these elaborate stories about what was happening and we were all so excited for the game to come out. If you went over to his house though you couldn’t play it because it was only in Korean for now, and even if it was in English, his dad wouldn’t let anyone else play it.
We finally figured out he was just making it all up. Then, later on, the kid got expelled from school for biting a teacher. At age 17. Wonder what he’s up to these days.
29. The Rough Roadie
Waiting for the Grayhound Bus in NYC. Old guy next to me in line starts making small talk. Says he is a roadie for Metallica..which is coming to Buffalo the next week (true). Tells me all about his crazy roadie life, all the bands he’s worked for, all the detailed s**t about the equipment. Tells me he is going to buy snacks for the trip before the bus leaves.
Makes a big show about not having change for a $20 and asks me if I can spot him. Of course I do. He leaves his bag as collateral. Comes back 20 minutes later without snacks, takes his bag and walks out of the station. I’m like Well d**n I’ve been had !
30. A Failed Quest
So one day I woke up, and my friend had texted me that he found a website selling oculus quest 2 for $100. So I called him and was like “if you get it, I will get it” and after like 10 minutes I told him that the “deal timer” was almost expired and that we need to buy it now, and so we did and the second I bought it I realized it was a scam, and I tried calling him to stop him, but it was to late and we both lost $100 from a person who built a better looking website than he oculus themselves
(Ps the website name was OculusUsa.com, and after I reported it to a scam website I think the creator saw it and took it down bc it’s no longer accessible
– [user deleted]
Stay vigilant out there – these things are everywhere.
Have you ever been scammed?
Tell us about it in the comments.