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Tuesday, October 4, 2011


by Apparent Parent (bio)

Most classifieds websites warn users of scams when new posts come online. The deal just might be too good to be true, they are in essence saying. What they don't warn you about is all the moronic scammers that will contact you when you want to sell something. When I listed my car in the local classifieds, I got jokers trying to steal my car from me in all sorts of interesting ways, just because I listed my email address. The funny thing is, these people trying to steal my stuff, while making it look like they're going to buy it, are endearing to me in an odd way. They are so stupid and know so little English that it's cute. I actually humor them by sending them responses as quirky as their inquiries. My favorite such transaction I have included in its entirety below with director commentary.

Inquiry email from Mack John, original grammar left intact.

Hello Seller,

am an oceanographer and am interested in your item place for sale and will love to know the final price and I'm willing to purchase it. As for the price am pleased with it and the condition, so i want you to consider the item sold.I will like to ask you some questions:

1} Are you the original owner of the item?
2} Do i need to repair?
3} Will you accept PAYPAL as a payment
4} Will allow local pickup at your location?
5} Do you have more pics?
6} What is the weight?
7} And also get back to me with your paypal email account.

Commentary: Let's see, any red flags here?

1. Educated oceanographer having trouble with grammar, punctuation and capitalization.
2. Felt the need to introduce himself as an educated oceanographer.
3. The oceanographer's name is “Mack,” a name typically reserved for truckers and those guys that get paid 30 bucks an hour to hold a sign that has “Stop” written on one side and “Slow” on the other.
4. My Nissan Altima is an “item,” meaning he has obviously sent this email to everyone on the planet that has posted their email address online, hoping one of them is a bigger knucklehead than himself.
5. Local pickup. I live 1,500 miles from the nearest ocean where this guy would be working, meaning there are a lot better places to shop for a used car than my very local classified ads.
6. I am to consider the item sold before even additional pics are seen or condition is determined? Hmm, seems a little odd, but the guy must buy a lot of $9,400 cars if he's always on the open ocean, right?
7. He's pleased with the condition, but asks if he needs “to repair?”
8. Wants to know the weight of a freakin' car. Well, let me just pop that thing on the bathroom scale and I'll let you know, Mack.
9. PayPal. It's legit right? No one's ever figured out how to scam someone using PayPal. Oh wait: read this and this, among others.
10. Local pickup again. This usually means they have arranged for a special shipper, usually some guy named Darryl and his sidekick Cletus that show up in an '84 Chevy to drive your car away, because they're a small-scale shipper, right? Can't beat that service.

Ouch, Mack. That list of red flags was longer than the list of questions you asked about buying my car. And really that's just the tip of the oceanographic iceberg. If I were your third grade teacher, I'd happily scrawl a big red “F” across your original email. But since I'm not, I'll just reply and see if I can drop that letter grade even further somehow.

My reply: Give me a call if you wish to discuss. (123)-456-78910

Commentary: Scammers who don't speak English will always refuse such a direct exchange of words. Even an online dictionary won't translate fast enough to sound like the amazing oceanographer Mack. I thought this a safe and amusing reply.

His reply: Am sorry i can't make a call here i'm, on sea...and i can't receive can only get to me on here...thanks you...looking up to here from you soon...Mack

Commentary: Ohhhhh...he's at sea! That's why he can only email and not call. Because all oceanographer ships are rigged with satellite Internet, but no sat phones. Of course! Oh wait. This email's even more idiotic than the first. Further breakdown of the English language because this reply has to be done on the fly rather than after months of research into exactly how to word things in that crazy English stuff. My favorite: “...thanks you...” I think I'll start using that. Must be that awesome oceanographer Mack's catchphrase. I want to be like him someday.

My reply (this is where it gets really fun): Well you probably don't need a car out there until you get back on land then. Not a lot of highways on the sea last I checked. Take care and have fun on the open ocean!

Commentary: I had to just resort to open mockery at the cover story at this point. The funny thing is, dude actually responded to this email.

His reply: Okay

Commentary: Yep, it's like he tipped his hat to the guy messing with the scammer, “Okay, you've outsmarted me this time, but when you list your Wii, Mack the Oceanographer will get the best of you!” I look forward to matching wits with you again, Mack. Or would it be “matching dimwits?” ...thanks you... for the laugh, Mack.

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