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It's funny.  Laugh.

P-P-P-PowerBook for a S-S-S-Scammer... 540

kormoc writes "It all started with a ebay auction when the seller got a email from a dude who wanted to scam him. It was a normal setup and it went horribly wrong... for the scammer. This has turned from a awful plight for a ebay user to a wonderful prank on the scammer. Throw in some crazy brits with digicams and you have the making of a great story. Mirror Mirror" That should get the coffee out your nostrils on a fine sunday morning. Note that you have to download the PDF to read the story.
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P-P-P-PowerBook for a S-S-S-Scammer...

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  • by ewwhite ( 533880 ) * on Sunday May 16, 2004 @11:14AM (#9167032) Homepage
    I loved the photos. This seemed like a big production. Any idea of the status of the "buyer" now?
  • by Geraden ( 15689 ) * on Sunday May 16, 2004 @11:14AM (#9167036) Homepage
    I've often thought of doing something similar, but....

    Even if they are being scammed, aren't this person and his/her accomplices committing mail/wire fraud?

    I just wouldn't want to be on the other end if the scammer tried to fight back.

    • Even if they are being scammed, aren't this person and his/her accomplices committing mail/wire fraud?

      IANAL, but while I think they are, technically...Somehow I doubt the scammer would have much of a leg to stand on to complain.

      I just wouldn't want to be on the other end if the scammer tried to fight back.

      It's not that hard to protect yourself...Just be careful about exactly what you give out in the way of personal info, and be creative. Look at some of the scam baiters that play with Nigerian emailer
    • by panurge ( 573432 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @11:31AM (#9167144)
      The scammer is in England and using an accomodation address. The sender is in the US. Where was the contract made? I bet that wasn't even specified, since it was off eBay. So who has legal jurisdiction? What's more, the arrangement is escrow, in theory. That means if the goods are unsatisfactory payment is not released. A genuine buyer would have to accept the risk that the duty would be paid and the goods would be unsatisfactory, and that the duty would not be recovered, unless there existed a proper contract specifying the country of jurisdiction and it was likely to be enforceable. This scammer has the option of visiting the US to start a lawsuit, but he has got to find a court which accepts jurisdiction, and all this is going to cost just a little more than $500.

      The real moral of this story, I think, is don't get involved in interstate (that's state as in country, not as in US state) commerce unless you really know what you are doing, and you are going to be doing it often enough to make all the aggravation worthwhile. The scammer was obviously too dim to realise this since he hadn't realised in advance he would have to pay import duty and Value Added Tax, or even that someone might send him a fake parcel.

    • OS X would work just as good on this box as the real thing...
    • A contract is void if it is based on an illegal purpose or contrary to public policy.[1]

      Or, to put things another way: the scammer started it.

      [1]wikipedia []

      • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Sunday May 16, 2004 @01:33PM (#9167868)
        The concept of "lesser of two evils" also comes into play... which is to say that it's okay to comitt a crime if it's being done in order to get in the way a larger crime.

        In order for the scammer to claim that he was the victim of a fraud, he'd end up confessing to the original scam which was much more serious. Most judges and prosecuters would grant immunity to the people who sent the "P-P-P-PowerBook" in order to bring down the larger scam artist.
    • by nycsubway ( 79012 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @12:02PM (#9167279) Homepage
      I love it. Nothing like screwing a scammer. I nearly fell for something like that about 5 years ago, although in reverse. Someone advertised a computer for sale for a really low price. I knew little about internet fraud at the time, so I beleived that because they advertised this computer for a low price, it must be true... otherwise they'd be lying, which people couldn't do! (duh)

      So I emailed the person to express my interest in buying the computer. He writes back with a long description of their 'operation'. They hacked into 'major computer makers' and re-routed shipping containers to me because they felt that computer makers were overcharging, etc. They were doing it for the good of the public; stealing from rich computer makers to give to the public.

      I almost fell for this, until I started to think about it. What if it was a scam? I couldn't contact the police, because I would have knowingly bought stolen goods. Wait! it must be a scam then!

      Scammers come up with incredibly diverse kinds of scams, because someone will eventually fall for one of them.

    • Well it could quite possibly be both mail (UPS) and wire (internet to access e-mail and escrow account).

      Basically the elements for mail and wire fraud are
      A scheme to defraud (about a material fact)
      Intent for the person to rely on the false information
      and a mail or wire interaction.

      What is interesting under the law is that an actual fraud does not need to be commited if the elements are met (unlike commom law fraud/misrepresentation which requires damages). The point is that the orignal scammer is still l
    • by Idarubicin ( 579475 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @02:33PM (#9168179) Journal
      Even if they are being scammed, aren't this person and his/her accomplices committing mail/wire fraud?

      The original seller made an honest offer. He had the real product, and it was a legitimate auction.

      He only decided to send the dummy laptop after it was established that the buyer was using a false name, phone number, and escrow site, with the intent to defraud the seller. If the buyer has no intention of holding up his end of the contract (paying for the laptop) then the seller is not bound to send a real laptop.

      If the buyer attempts to recover the import duties through civil court, then he exposes himself to criminal prosecution. Further, his claim in civil court would likely be easily denied based on the doctrine of unclean hands []--that is, "...a party who is asking for a judgment cannot have the help of the court if he/she has done anything unethical in relation to the subject of the lawsuit."

    • by bwy ( 726112 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @02:53PM (#9168261)
      Yeah, this guy had balls. I've heard of cases where there has been murders over stuff like this- not sure if it is true or not but think about the quality of people that you are dealing with on the other end and then ask yourself whether it was worth it.

      Amusing, none the less, and entertaining to read. But overall I think you are better off just reporting the scam and letting it go. Sure, reporting it probably won't result in anything, but it is about the most we can legally do.
  • by chachob ( 746500 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @11:16AM (#9167045)
    in soviet eBay, YOU scam the scammer!
  • by DrEldarion ( 114072 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [0791uhcsm]> on Sunday May 16, 2004 @11:18AM (#9167061)
    This originally started off as a "I think this guy is trying to rip of me off" post on the SA forums. Through the magic of peer pressure and paypal, it blossomed into this wonderful production.

    The thread is now in the Comedy Goldmine here [] and has over 3200 replies and 3/4ths of a million page views.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      My suitemate is a SA goon (that's what they call themselves...) and he's been giving me updates on the situation almost every day.

      Go read the article/PDF; it's what I'm going to do after posting this. Or at the very least, look at the pictures... they're hilarious. Instant classic. I'm glad this got out to the outside world.

      My favorite is the bluetooth mouse....
  • Here [] is a direct link to a cached .pdf, looks like their server (and mirrors) are already going down.
  • by rabtech ( 223758 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @11:19AM (#9167067) Homepage
    This originated at the Somethingawful forums; we followed the thread day-by-day as the events unfolded.

    You can find the original thread here: .php?s= &threadid=1016390

    Thanks to MyNameIsJeff and the SA forum community for a good laugh.

  • by PenguinRadio ( 69089 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @11:24AM (#9167096) Homepage
    Just start about halfway through the original thread and you'll get the minute-by-minute updates as they await for delivery. Pretty funny. &threadid=1016390&perpage=40&pagenumber=69 []
  • by apg ( 66778 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @11:31AM (#9167142) Homepage
    You know it's coming: Scammer auctions P-P-P-Powerbook on eBay to cover cost of customs duty.

    This story is getting popular enough that it just might work.
    • It appears it's already up on ebay. But what I don't get is why it's listed in ten different auctions... wasn't there just one? As cool as this would be to have, I wouldn't buy it from the scammer off of ebay, unless he really really really promised to send it.
  • A bit confused (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jonathan ( 5011 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @11:32AM (#9167145) Homepage
    I've read the pdf and I still don't quite get it all. What did the professor in Indiana have to do with anything? Was his site merely hacked, or was he in cahoots with the scammer?
    • Re:A bit confused (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jon Kent ( 777707 )
      My thoughts exactly!

      There was absolutely zero followup with regard to Mr. Saral Surakul - our esteemed college professor. It would be interesting to know whether his identity was simply hijacked/spoofed for the purposes of domain registration or whether he was in fact complicit in the scam.

      An entertaing read nevertheless.
    • Re:A bit confused (Score:5, Insightful)

      by YankeeInExile ( 577704 ) * on Sunday May 16, 2004 @11:51AM (#9167219) Homepage Journal

      My instinct tells me the prof in Terre Haute has nothing to do with it, and just had his name pulled out of a directory to be stuck on a domain registration, as a red herring.

  • I gather the brit-spies weren't able to actually stake out the location on the relevant morning to catch the perp in the act of receiving the package?

    That's the only part of the story that's a bit of a shame - after all that work, it woulda been nice to have some pics of the fraudster received the p-p-powerbook, not that they necessarily would have opened it on the spot. Oh well. Still, they did succeed in a bit of financial punishment to the scammer with the 27% import duty.

    • by TehHustler ( 709893 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @11:46AM (#9167202) Homepage
      Er they did get the van arriving on video, and there was a guy inside when the package was opened, and he was arguing on the phone with the person picking it up, saying there was something wrong. No pictures of his face when he opened it up, unfortunately Another SA Goon checking in, I cant believe this made Slashdot.
      • He wasn't arguing on the phone. He was talking to the barbershop owner. I think you read Rhig's posting of the events wrong. He heard the barber on the phone. Then, after, he heard the eastern european reciever of the package talking to the barber about his packages.
  • Legality? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gabeman-o ( 325552 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @11:45AM (#9167196)
    Is it legal to do this even though he "knew" this was a scam?
    • Re:Legality? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JessLeah ( 625838 ) * on Sunday May 16, 2004 @12:12PM (#9167357)
      "What is right is not necessarily legal. What is legal is not necessarily right."
    • Re:Legality? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ThisIsFred ( 705426 )
      Don't know about illegal (I don't live in the UK), but unethical? Sure. But hey, If eBay isn't going to provide tools that their customers can use to tell friend from foe (as opposed to middlemen that get big fees in exchange for trusted status), things will degenerate into Internet-vigilante justice.
  • With the mirror links posted on the front page the original site is quite responsive while the mirrors are being ./ed to oblivion!
  • by mabu ( 178417 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @12:02PM (#9167278)
    The best scammer-scam I've ever seen is the infamous The Holy Church of Fish Bread & Wine []. If you haven't seen that one, be sure to check it out.
  • Bitter Sweet? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 16, 2004 @12:10PM (#9167345)
    I highly doubt our scammer paid his own money for the customs duty. Despite absolutely retarded scam techniques, he did use a buggered box and failed to reveal himself at each step. My instincts tell me he paid the tax with a stolen credit card probably.

    So he got made the fool and wasted some of his time. Unless he gets caught and charged with various fradulencies he's just going to do it again to someone less astute.
  • by Psychic Burrito ( 611532 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @12:13PM (#9167368)
    Fake Escrow Website (zipped) [].

    Pics of the shop [] (scroll down, shitty forum...)


  • by bjdevil66 ( 583941 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @01:09PM (#9167726)

    The keyboard's re-arrangement [] including:


    ... great stuff ... thanks for the laughs...

  • by Skapare ( 16644 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @01:14PM (#9167753) Homepage

    The really sad part of this is that some scammer now has a really excellent work of art. It will probably sell for several million pounds in a couple hundred years. That would be about the price of a cup of coffee.

    That bluetooth mouse just cracks me up!

  • by xenolaeus ( 584541 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @01:34PM (#9167871)
    So, there goes that silly export fraud claim..
  • Hilarious, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elemental23 ( 322479 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @01:49PM (#9167945) Homepage Journal
    While this is a great story, did this guy really need to register [] for it? People register domains for the stupidest reasons.

    Also, what's with the 28 page PDF? What's wrong with just HTML? That alone would cut down his bandwidth usage, especially in light of all the publicity this story is getting.

    Yeah, I know, -1 Flamebait.
    • by TC (WC) ( 459050 )
      MyNameIsJeff didn't register it for himself. Forum poster Str8Dog bought it because he "couldn't help himself." I assume he did it to support the whole event when he wasn't really in a position to help in other ways.

      Who the hell cares if it was registered for a stupid reason. It's not like there's a huge demand for for other purposes.
  • by Eil ( 82413 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @02:01PM (#9168017) Homepage Journal

    Is it just me, or is this an incomplete prank? I read through the entire PDF and found, to my surprise, that it ended with them waiting for the package to be delivered. Hello? This would be just a little more amusing if there were some sort of punchline. The whole point to this is to get the guy's reaction in some form. So have they waited two weeks without hearing anything more from the scammer? Are there still people staking out the barbershop? WHAT'S GOING ON?

    Amusing little prank, but it's just a little prank as long as nobody knows what happened in the end. C'mon, I could send someone a marked-up binder in lieu of a computer anytime I wanted. For those of you who haven't read it yet, don't waste your time. The pictures of the P-P-P-Powerbook itself are worth a giggle but that's pretty much the climax of the whole scenario.
    • Someone over in London should pay a bum 10 GBP to go in the babershop for a cut and to ask "do you guys sell powerbooks"?
    • The PDF is out of date. Unfortunately, after reading through 74 pages of the original thread - just past the point where the UK goons had confirmed that the P-P-Powerbook had been delivered - SA decided it wasn't going to let me read the remaining seven pages without being registered.
    • conclusion here [].

      **** spoiler ahead *******

      goon "rhig"'s post from upstairs the barber shop:

      This was written just after I got to the barbers; I used one of his upstairs computers and couldn't see anything so I had to listen.

      RE VIDEO: I don't think the video is complete; the lines were to slow at the cafes.

      I'm upstairs at the moment and a lots going on, the barbers on the phone Parcel Force about other parcels he's waiting for and one has been delivered according to the force.
      "ec107847"2/z/7"17gb" was th

  • by rice_web ( 604109 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @03:11PM (#9168355)
    The coordination that existed all under the nose of the target is amazing. They had three operatives just waiting there, and dozens of others investigating the crime and tracing every possible connection.

    If just some guys on a message board can do this, what does this say about organized crime? About the police? I can't even imagine the possibilities for the group that stays connected like this.
  • big risk (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hak1du ( 761835 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @03:28PM (#9168444) Journal
    This kind of vigilante approach is risky, because while you may or may not have guessed correctly that someone is trying to defraud you, sending a piece of plastic instead of a PowerBook is definitely attempted fraud.

    For example, if the guy at the other end has a mean streak and some spare cash, he may just send the $2100 and then charge you with fraud. Try explaining to the police and judge that you thought you were being defrauded because some WHOIS information didn't look right to you when the other guy can prove he sent the money to you and you sent him a worthless piece of plastic. Or maybe you are just dealing with a very unprofessional operation, but not necessarily a fraudulent one.

    If you believe someone is trying to defraud you, just don't do business with them, contact eBay's fraud department, and maybe go to the police. That's better for everybody involved.

  • Imagine... (Score:5, Funny)

    by kitzilla ( 266382 ) <.paperfrog. .at.> on Sunday May 16, 2004 @04:18PM (#9168669) Homepage Journal
    ...a B-B-B-Beowulf cluster of those P-P-P-Powerbooks!
  • by NeuroManson ( 214835 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @04:21PM (#9168699) Homepage
    PDFs take a bloody long time to display (unless you have a top of the line 'puter and a broadband connection, it takes as long to load a PDF as it does to load Photoshop).
  • I could not afford one from Apple, nor auction sites, so I bought a $4USD white plastic notebook hat I can put papers into and got some markers and used an old keyboard keycaps and an old MS-Mouse and made my own Powerbook. L@@K, it works 100%, runs OSX as well. Only downside is I am now being sued by Apple for making a Powerbook clone without their permission. ;)

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