Last weekend I put the Doggy(water)bed for sale, because it has been idle since the dog I bought it for found a more comfortable resting place. I gave the mattress a starting price and put it up for two weeks auction, as I thought that people need time for consideration for this kind of purchase.
As soon as I made the ad public there was someone who wanted to buy the mattress at once. I added a ‘Buy it now’-option to the auction.
I had changed private emails with the potential buyer. He wanted to pay the item via PayPal. I urged him to pay the money to my bank and sent him my bank account number. As soon as he got my account number he told me that he had sent 1040 € from his PayPal account to my bank account. It was 800 € more than the ‘Buy it now’-price of the mattress. He wanted that I pay 800 € to the shipping company, when someone comes to pick the mattress.
I got two other notifications from PayPal that I had a money order for 1040 €. In order to activate the money order I had to transfer 800 € to a third party, a Malaysian shipping company using a payment system I don’t know myself and then I had to take a copy of the payment and send it somewhere what was not mentioned clearly.
Instead of that I sent a message to the buyer:
It seems to me that you are not interested in the mattress, but in something totally different.
I don’t play these money games.
I wish you all the best! Enjoy my blog (glowinthedarkness.net).
When I reopened the ad in the auction-service I checked the box ‘unauthenticated users cannot participate this auction’.
I have always thought that everyone should be able to take part in an auction sale. I don’t like to go through any extra procedures either when I browse the net. But authentication is no problem for a person, who really wants to shop online. Someone put it very aptly on a discussion forum: “In God we trust. Others pay with cash.”
This episode makes me recall the time, when I had just got wired Internet access. Internet was a black hole and I didn’t understand anything about its functions and how it works.
One evening I got an email saying that there was a big amount of money in a South African bank and the sender wished I could help him transfer the money to Europe. “Why not, if I can help”, I replied. For me it was a leap in the dark and I was curious to see where it took me.
Our communication lasted several days. My discussion partner had assured the confidentiality of the discussion, but I noticed from the language usage that I was not communicating with only one person, but several persons wrote messages to me. I could only guess what that meant.
My partner, who was planning a big money transfer asked me to give him 2500 € to go through some formalities. I would get the money back of course after the transfer.
I racked my brain by thinking where to find suddenly 2500 €. When it became clear to me how I could get the money I happened to think that if I wanted to transfer money somewhere I would in no circumstances leave a part of the transfer procedure on responsibility of a quite unknown person.
I tried to find out, what was the South African bank, where (supposedly) tens of millions of dollars were waiting to be transferred to Luxembourg. Maybe I could even find the name of my discussion partner among the personnel details.
I was very surprised as I googled the name and the search engine took me to a police site, which told about 419 scams and the creative ways of online scammers to make money. The site had many practical examples, how people have been cheated, even so that they have lost everything.
After I had read the police reports I found it odd that these people, who were obviously very intelligent people chose from all options they had to earn their living by lying and deceiving other people. They had engineered a memorable virtual adventure for me, which raised me above space and time and tuned my antenna into unknown frequencies. Not even many multimillion budget movies can do that.
In my last message to the ‘South African banker’ I wrote about my thoughts. The answer was short and degrading: You don’t understand nothing.
Maybe I don’t understand nothing about the work patterns of online scammers. But I understand this much: A person who cheats another person to get short-term gains is cheating first and foremost himself, because his own attitude becomes gradually his hell. He cannot even allow himself feelings of perfect joy, unity and content, which are possible only when connections everywhere are faultless.