February 28, 2023 | Eul Basa

Real-Life Scam Victims Tell Their Stories

Since the invention of email and telephones, scam attempts have been a part of our everyday lives. Some are incredibly obvious and easy to ignore, but then there are those which shut down our common sense and have us believing ever word. These brave Redditors share the stories of times they found themselves victims of a scammer’s devious tactics.

1. Unintended Involvement

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 in the 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 later, I learned the dark truth.

That day, the authorities knocked on my door 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.

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2. The OG Scam

My grandmother gave away my grandparents’ life savings to a Nigerian scammer. She fell for one of those emails from someone stating that my grandfather’s long-lost uncle died and left them $2 million and a Mercedes and they only needed five thousand dollars to process the transaction. This went on for close to two years—and the way it happened was chilling.

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 had blown 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 car were on their way.

My dad contacted every government agency there was to try to stop it. But they all said they couldn't help because she was still willingly giving them money. Eventually, I think she came back to reality and my grandfather gave those people a piece of his mind. They were able to recover some of the money, but not nearly all of it.

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3. It’s Still A Mystery

I had gotten laid off and I started looking for another job and posted my resume online. In July, I got a call from a lady (let's call her B) who said she was a recruiter for a chemical company in a neighboring state, in a town not far from where I had some relatives. She said she saw my resume and thought I'd be a good fit for her company.

I would essentially be doing the same job I had been before, but the pay was almost double what I had been making. So I agreed to an interview. A couple of days later I got another call from B saying that she had set up a phone interview with P, who was the hiring manager at the chemical company. I spent a few hours digging into the website.

A week before my start date, I got a call from B. She said they wanted to push my start date back a week, since they had auditors from corporate on site and they didn't want to focus on training someone new while they were undergoing a process audit. Sounded reasonable, even if it was a little inconvenient for me. The next week, I got another call from B. She said they wanted to push my start date again.

They didn’t want me to be starting in the middle of the pay period. Okay, that kind of makes sense, I guess, so once again, I rescheduled everything and paid some additional fees to do so. The following week, I called B and confirmed that everything was still on track. She said it was, so I went ahead and loaded up the truck and turned in my apartment keys and moved.

The day before I was scheduled to start my new job, I got another call from B. My stomach turned. I was sure she was calling to tell me that there was another delay, and I was running a little low on cash by this point. But instead, she told me the name of the contact person I was supposed to ask for and wished me good luck. Little did I know, the worst was yet to come.

I made the commute the next day, showed up 15 minutes early, went to the security/reception desk, introduced myself and asked for my contact person. They lady looked at something on her computer and was like, "We don't have anyone by that name here." I figured I made a mistake somewhere, maybe misheard it or wrote it down wrong, something like that.

So I ask for P, the HR manager. She looks up something on her computer and says, "P doesn't work out of this location. He's in a different state.” So now I'm very confused, and I call B. She says not to worry, there's just been some kind of miscommunication, to just hang out and she'd call me back in 15 minutes. So I wait 15 minutes.

Then I wait another 15 minutes. Then another. After an hour, I called B again. "We're sorry, the number you are trying to reach is no longer in service. Please hang up and try your call again.” It was surreal. I mean I was just dumbfounded. I had no idea what was going on. I ended up driving back home and trying to call B a couple of more times that day.

I'd obviously been had, but there’s still a part about it that bothers me. The biggest question that remains is: Why? I never gave B any money, or any info that wasn't on my resume. So why would she go to such lengths to get me to uproot my life? I mean, I know the old adage about everyone being the villain of someone else's story, but I can't honestly imagine what I could have done to anyone to make them go that far to mess with me.

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4. TV Truck Trick

In the late 50s, some guy came into my grandpa’s 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.

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5. Amazon Has Great Customer Service

A year ago, the landline gets a call and I answer and it’s some man asking me to confirm a purchase on Amazon of a seven-hundred-dollar phone. 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.” 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 and we need to stop it!” And he tells me to ask for the manager. When I ask, the scam guy says, “Ok, let me get her.” I couldn’t believe how absurd his next move was. Not even a second later, the same guy using a women’s voice says, “Hello?” I hung up immediately.

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6. You Need A Job To Owe Taxes

I was maybe 17-18 years old and still looking for a job. I got a call one day and the man said, “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 I’d even worked 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.

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7. Double The Prize

When I was 18, I was a front-end supervisor at a local chain drugstore. 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. I immediately knew something was off. It seemed pretty clear that he had taken them off the shelf and brought them to the counter.

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.

We could do an even exchange, however. He went and got two more, slightly different packs of film. He continued alternating between nice and angry, still trying to get cash, then finally accepted the exchange and left. That’s when I made a disturbing realization. He just put the new packs of film in the bag with the other ones. He caused enough commotion that I completely missed it.

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8. Non-Contractual Obligation

I went to buy a PC about eight years ago. I was offered a rent contract paying monthly which I looked over and it said I could keep the computer after two years or just upgrade to a brand new one. The total price was only a couple of hundred more than buying it outright. Anyway, I decided not to take the contract and told them I wanted to buy it outright but pay monthly.

They drew up a new contract and I signed it and they went to photo copy it so we both had a copy. Two years later, I get a harsh letter saying I failed to return the computer and needed to phone them ASAP or I would be taken to court. I dug out my paperwork and I looked deeper into the small print to see if I had missed something.

That’s when I clued into their devious scam. It was the correct front page but when they went to “photocopy” it they must have switched the paperwork. The part where I signed looked exactly the same on both contracts, but my signature said I had only “rented” the computer. I remember double and triple checking the paperwork before signing so I believe they switched it when they went to photocopy it.

After a while I got a letter saying they would be getting someone to come and collect the PC and a fine for “stealing” it. My lawyer said that as shady as it appears, all the courts are going to do is waste my time, so we came to an agreement that I pay the fine they want and I have to “rent” another product and they will let me keep the Computer.

I agree and rented the cheapest iPad for a year and got in writing the computer was now owned by me. A year later they told me to return the computer and iPad. So I sent them a strongly worded letter with a copy of them saying I now owned the computer. I dropped off the iPad and didn’t hear from them again.

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9. Hoodwinked

I had a roommate with two cats. I came home from a double shift and started making a tuna melt sandwich. I 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.

I 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 have followed me as per usual was gone. Then I heard a crash in the kitchen. I 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.

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10. A Rotten Apple

I had a MacBook that I got to use when I started college in 2011. About 2014, it had started to slow down and just not really work as well. One day I power on the computer and there is a message when I get to the home screen that the computer has a problem 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 problem. One I gave him all of this, he was able to move the mouse around my laptop screen.

He was 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 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 I was never able to use that computer again.

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11. The Case Of Benjamin Stove

I thought I was solving an elaborate mystery—I was so, so wrong. Back in 2006, I was browsing some website when I saw a banner ad that said, "Who is Benjamin Stove?" It was mysterious, a bit weird, and made me curious, so I clicked it and it took me to this website with an interesting story. This guy had found a painting from 1913 with crop circles and was trying to find out more about it and its last owner, Benjamin Stove.

I absolutely love unsolved mysteries and this immediately caught my attention. I dove into the discussion forums on the website and began learning what people had already found out. For the next week or two I was obsessed with this website, this mystery, so much that I would even check it during my free periods and lunch at school.

There were all these weird things involved with this, thinking the painting was haunted, aliens, possible murder. Eventually, with everyone working together from all over the country the mystery was solved and we found Benjamin Stove. However, the whole thing ended up being an ARG marketing campaign from GM so none of it was real.

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12. Too Good To Be True

I was trying to sell something because I needed some fast cash, and got a “buy it now” offer that was offering $250 over the value…if I bought $200 in E-Bay gift cards to include in the package. Sadly, the need for the money was so strong that it did not click that I was being scammed until after I sent the pictures of the gift cards with the scratch off PIN exposed.

They even had the gall to ask that I go back and get $400 more in gift cards, and would send "confirmation" e-mails showing deposits to my PayPal account that were faked. When you are trying hard to get money to pay a critical bill, getting scammed like that really hurts and I personally will never use E-Bay again, as they did very little to resolve things.

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13. Don’t Talk To Men In Parking Lots

I was 19 and desperate to get out of my 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 and he said he could tell I had a good work ethic and looked like an honest person.

I bought his lies, hook, line and sinker, and traveled 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.

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14. Not Such A Deal After All

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, it was 30% less than  most of the other "like new" devices were going for. I contacted the seller and met up with them. Thinking I was being smart, I made him wait while I checked the serial numbers for theft.

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. I paid him and went about my life. Then six months later, BOOM. A screen pops up on the phone with the heading of Rent-A-Center.

It said the device has been locked due to lack of payment and to contact the store. I called the store and found out that this guy had sold me a phone he had simply rented and never paid for.

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15. Cold Hearted

I used to be 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. On my way home, I saw the guest driving his little pickup, wearing the jacket he'd asked me to put behind the counter.

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16. It Could Have Been Worse

I lived on my own in Florida for university. Some guys pull up in a Jeep outside my building and get me to look at this nice speaker system that is the low, low price of 150 dollars. I felt pressured to buy it, but I don't carry that kind of cash on me. But no worries, they said they could drive me to the bank to withdraw the money.

So here I am, in the car with these two strangers heading to the bank to withdraw money using my debit card. But guess what? I don't know my PIN, so I'm also calling my bank to figure that out while I'm in the car. I did get to the bank, I pulled money out, I paid for the knockoff speakers, and felt horribly duped and embarrassed by the situation, and never told my parents.

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17. A Lot Of Work

While waiting for the bus in NYC, the old guy next to me in line starts making small talk. He says he’s a roadie for Metallica, and that they’re coming to Buffalo the next week. He tells me all about his crazy roadie life, all the bands he's worked for, all the detailed things about the equipment. He then tells me he is going to buy snacks for the trip before the bus leaves.

He 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.

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18. A Simple Task

Once I was trying to get babysitting work and ended up getting an email with a really great offer from a family who was moving into the country. They wanted to pay me a very good rate and it seemed like an amazing, once in a lifetime opportunity! Being the teenager that I was I thought I was the smartest person in the world and this was going to be paving the way to my future. If I’d only known how wrong I was.

They asked if I could help them get some things for their house before they moved in. I was happy to help! Anything for my future employer! Could I forward a check? All I had to do was send this check that they would mail me to an account that they sent me info to at the bank. I didn't mind, it's their money after all.

I send the check right away, no problems. Then a few days later I check my account and I'm negative a significant amount of money in my account. The same amount of money I had forwarded, about $4,000. I demanded answers. The person I'd been emailing assured me it would be fine and it will just take a couple of days for the money to show back up.

They then ask if I can forward another check in the meantime. I was extremely hesitant. I really didn't want to. But they were going to be moving here so soon! They'd make it all up to me in a month. It would be okay. I decided to go to the address they’d told me that they were planning to move into—and my blood ran ice cold.

The property is completely abandoned. Not for sale, but abandoned. Derelict and dead.

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19. It Can Always Be Worse

We were approached on the street by friendly locals who claimed they wanted to practice their English by spending time with us. They invited us to a tea house where we were treated to a tea ceremony. Then the bill comes. In our case, it was only around $350, which seemed really expensive, but then again, there were five of us.

I thought that we were probably being gouged but I just paid and we parted ways. On the flight home, I am talking to the guy next to me who proceeds to tell me how lucky we are to not have been “tea scammed” because he had been and they tried to extract $1.5k from him with a machine gun. I was too embarrassed to tell him that we had been because it didn’t seem so bad anymore.

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20. Great White Lies

My mom’s a smoker and saw an ad on Facebook for CBD gummies designed to help quit smoking. The ad said the company went on Shark Tank and got multiple investors, and there were a bunch of bots in the comments saying how well they work. She visited the website and said it looked legit, so she bought five jars’ worth of the things for $35.

The next day she checks her bank account and $400 was withdrawn from this “company.” She looked up the website to file a complaint, the website was gone. Looked up the company name and found a phone number, and upon calling was greeted with a “you got scammed” song. For whatever reason she stayed on the line for 30 minutes, thinking she was on hold.

Then she called the bank and got her money back. The only reason I know this story is because three months later, she received the gummies in the mail. They had no brand name or anything, just generic gummies. Needless to say we didn’t eat them.

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21. You Live, You Learn

I was working at a small home furnishing store when I was in college. It was a Friday afternoon, with just me and a senior salesperson. A couple of guys came in right before closing and wanted to buy about $1,300 worth of stuff. I should’ve spotted the red flag from a mile away. My co-worker and I were rushing to pull the items, get the customer out of the store, and close up.

I typed up the transaction, my co-worker pulled the products. The customer paid via credit card and the other customer waited outside the store. The card was declined. We then got a call from the credit card company asking if Mr. Customer was making a purchase. I said, "Yes.” He said he had to do a manual approval for the transaction and gave me an authorization code.

Mr. Customer loaded up his car and we closed up, leaving the authorization code for the owner to take care of in the morning. On Monday, I learned my infuriating lesson. Credit card companies don't call stores when a customer's card declines and they don't give out manual authorization codes over the phone.

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22. Coworkers, Not Friends

I worked for Amazon once and they had a raffle where I won an Xbox. This was about a year after it came out, but I had no need for it because I was a PlayStation fan and was fine with my console. I told my coworker about it and he asked what I was going to do with it and I said I was going to sell it. That's when he told me to sell it to him.

I figured why not until he offered me $80. I said no way and he managed to convince me that that was the highest I'd probably get for it and that even GameStop would give me less. Being an Amazon employee at the time, I wasn't really short on money and also wasn't in any rush to sell it so I said I would do it. I gave him the Xbox and he would pay me back on the next pay period.

Week after week passed by and nothing. He started avoiding me at work and always had a different excuse each time I found him and asked. I ended up having to go to his house a couple times only to be told he wasn't there. I got his dad's number and called him up and the dad came to my house. I told him everything and he said his son was lying.

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23. It’s All Fun And Games

When I was a kid, I used to play an online game that required real-world money to buy items within the game. One day I met a guy in the game, and after talking, he told me he had a hack that could give you unlimited in-game currency. I was really excited and he gave me an application to download onto my computer and install.

The application requested my username and password, and when I put it in, it started spamming in the chat with him the username and password that I had just entered. Then the computer froze so bad that I had to reboot it. I was in shock, and after I rebooted my computer, the first thing I did was log into account and I had nothing left. My character was in underwear and without a penny.

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24. Gambled And Lost

A "friend" came to me asking to borrow $450 to help with her with bills. I was hesitant but she looked like she was under a lot of stress, and recently got fired from her job, so I gave it to her. A month passed, still no payment but she needs help with more bills, this time $350. She was crying during the call, so I felt couldn't say no.

She comes back a third time and I'm not home but my mum is, she again cries about not being able to pay bills, but mum knows what's up. Mum tells her to leave and to never ask for my money again. Later, we learned the chilling truth. We find out that she was a gambling addict, and was fired because she was stealing from the cash register to pay for it all. She also took thousands from a bunch of other people.

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25. So Helpful

Almost a year ago, my family got robbed. However, there wasn't any confrontation, nor did the robbers come into our house, or even close. One day, while I was taking a shower, someone called the house telephone. The maid answered and it was somebody talking in very formal manners, pretending to be from the government.

They were saying that my parents were both at a prosecutor's office and that they could not uphold some kind of contract regarding some big loan and that, due to this and the terms of the contract, our house would be promptly searched for valuables that could pay at least some part of the loan. They said it all very slowly, part by part, with formal speech and making everything sound very plausible and real.

Somebody else from the same scammer group called, pretending to be from my dad's lawyers and wanting to help with the situation, having talked with my dad. The scammer told the maid to get the safe and any valuables she could and put them in a big suitcase, so that they would pick it up and, when the house got searched, they couldn’t take any valuables for paying the loan.

But then it got even more terrifying. They also told my maid to come with the suitcase out of the residential area where I live, so that nobody knew that the valuables were ever taken out and my parents didn't get sued for that. Only then did I get out of the shower and the maid briefed my sister, brother, and I on what had happened and the situation.

The maid and my sister packed the safe and any valuables they could find and hand-delivered everything to the scammers. About half an hour after, my dad gets home and, when all of us run up to him for an explanation, he is dumbfounded and then connects the dots and screams, "WE HAVE BEEN ROBBED!”

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26. Looks Good On Paper

I broke my old laptop by sitting on it and found a website that would buy it for £150 as it was quite a good model. They sent me paid postage packaging and everything and I sent it off. I never got any money and tried to contact the numbers and emails on the site, none of them were real. The website had hundreds of reviews and seemed so legitimate.

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27. Nothing In Life Is Free

I had a "friend" call me up, and he invited me to his house so he could clean my phone which I had been complaining about. He was very insistent and I didn’t want to argue. I brought it over, he started cleaning the phone, and then he asked me to get something from the kitchen. I went, found it after a few seconds of searching and brought it back.

He said he was finished and left the phone on top of his TV, and left the room to get something. My phone looked very different. I stared at it for a bit, and I realized it was missing a crack that had always been there. I looked on the floor where his phone was, it had the crack.

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28. A Relaxing Vacation

I was on vacation and didn’t have my phone on. The scammers called my house and spoke to my sister who was house sitting for my wife and me. They told her I was going to be tried for an undisclosed charge if I didn’t pay them something like $900 for the case to be dismissed or I would be taken into custody the next day.

She tried calling me and I didn’t answer as I was on vacation. I had left her one of my bank cards so she could buy food and stuff since she was doing me a favor. She paid them with it as she thought it was real and I am not a saint, so it was believable at the time.

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29. It Would Be Cool

I work in a daycare over the summer and I ordered this hair wax online that changed the color of your hair for the day. As I use hair wax every day, I thought it would be so cool for our color week and paid $53.92 for all the colors they offered. The next morning I woke up and made a terrifying discovery. My whole bank account had been drained.

Luckily, I call my bank and they were able to fix it and send me a new card. But that is not where the story ends. I actually got the product and after using it once, my hair started to fall out. I shaved my head that summer.

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30. Not Creative Enough

There was a younger guy in a shirt and tie next to me at the gas station. He asked me for a few bucks for gas as he was on his way to a job interview. He said he'd been unemployed for a few months and this was sort of a dream job opportunity, I ended up filling up his entire tank and wished him luck on the interview. What a mistake.

I saw him there twice a week for the next three months, always in a shirt and tie and always talking to other patrons. He eventually tried to scam me again a few months later, and I reminded him that he had already got me on that line and asked I if he had anymore. He said he could tell me about his dying grandmother he was trying to go see on the other side of town.

Then he paused and said, "Sorry man," and got in his car and drove away. Never saw him again, but I assume he just moved to the next gas station down the street.

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31. The Sound Quality Is Terrible

A guy showed up out front of a store with stereo equipment, TV speakers, and projectors. They proceeded to tell me they already delivered everything that was on their list and they say that could earn a bonus if they sold the extra stuff instead of packing it back into the warehouse. They brought out the store flier and showed me the prices of everything.

They offered me a discount so I bought some stereo equipment. I ended up spending nearly three hundred dollars on speakers that were filled with sawdust instead of electronics.

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32. It Was Technically Still An IQ Test

When I was 11, my favorite Disney Channel star tweeted a link to take an IQ test and see how your score compared to hers. A credit card number was needed to see the results, so I put in my parents’. Of course, she had been hacked and it was a scam, so I had to go sheepishly tell my parents I accidentally charged their credit card...they were not happy.

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33. Common Sense Prevails

I was on my husband's laptop, which was a quite fancy and expensive one that he had gotten from his dad, and I was worried that anything would happen to it if I used it. This stupid pop-up came on that said that I had to call "Microsoft tech support" because my laptop was "compromised." There was a phone number on the screen.

I called immediately. They were being vague on the phone, and my anxiety was already heightened by the thought that something might be wrong with the computer, so I was feeling pretty numb. I was about to give them access to the computer to "help fix" the problem when my good senses kicked in and I realized it was a scam.

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34. Clean History, Dirty Website

I was selling a car on Craigslist and got a call from this guy who seemed super interested. He followed up by asking if it had a clean history. He then sends me a link to what appeared to be an alternative to Carfax, asking me to get a history report for before he drives out. I was literally putting in my credit card info before I paused to think the website might be fake.

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35. Follow The Money

Me and my girlfriend were looking for a new apartment as our lease was coming up. There was a post on Craigslist and the place was exactly what we had been looking for. The "landlord" was a couple from the area but they were on a mission trip out in Malaysia working with sick kids and that they weren't able to get us in for a showing.

They said we could drive past the house and get a look at it. Within the next few hours after contact, they got really pushy and were pretty much demanding us to make the decision and to send them $150 deposit to hold the apartment for us. My girlfriend was the one doing all the communicating since I was at work. Red flags started going up as soon as they were trying to get money out of us.

They wanted a Western Union money order sent to some place in Nigeria. I burst out laughing and said that it was definitely a scam.

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36. Can’t Control Everything

I wanted a new game controller and decided to spend a bit more at the local used game store instead of going to GameStop. Sony was running a sale on them at the time. At GameStop, they were $45. So I went to the local game store and told them I needed a wireless controller. They pulled one off the shelf and said it was only $40.

Everything looked good. Hot dog! I got home and opened it. The entire wireless thing was completely missing, none of the lights worked, and the serial number matched up to a common Hong Kong serial number. Then, it got really infuriating. I went back the next day and they told me, “Oh you didn't specify you wanted the Sony controller.”

I showed them the receipt, the box, the controller. All of them said it was a Sony controller, but it wasn't. They refused to do anything but sell me the other one for $55.

Scam victimsUnsplash

37. A Less Than Sound Investment

A friend of mine from college emailed me like he usually does and mentions offhand that his firm is handling an angel investor round for a certain technology start-up. I had invested through his employer before with no issue, so I asked him to send me information for me to research. He sends it, it all looks legit, I think it's worth a shot and I ask how much.

He sends me the payment information and it looks fishy, like he sends me a physical address for an office tower in Atlanta that I know his firm is not located in and he also cites a P.O. box address in that building. I call the building and they say no name of his firm is registered to that building. I pick up the phone and call his cell phone. He doesn't call back.

I swing by his house the next day and he has no idea what I am talking about, he says his laptop, phone and wallet were stolen and that he's been frantically closing accounts and getting replacements. Apparently, the scammer went through his contacts, figured out what he did for a living and was trying to bilk all his professional contacts.

All of the information he sent me was copied and pasted or straight up forged based on template documents already on the computer. I turned everything I had over to the FBI and my friend's attorneys. Everyone one of the guy's contacts were solicited and a handful actually wired cash to the guy, who was eventually caught and convicted of wire fraud.

Scam victimsUnsplash

38. A Small Price To Pay

One day I was driving home from school and I stop to get some gas. I successfully finished my last final and I’m in a really good mood. While I’m pulling out, this lady holding a baby and with another kid beside her approaches me and motions for me to roll my window down. I comply since generally women holding babies aren’t dangerous characters.

She gives me this sob story about her family traveling because her husband finally got a job and her money running out and her being desperate to buy food for her children and all that jazz. Her story sounded pretty well rehearsed, and I noticed that she had picked me (the young naive child) out of the whole crowd of people at the gas station.

I’m suspicious, but I give her ten bucks because you never know and it’s just ten bucks. The next day comes and I’m at my restaurant hosting job working the morning shift (20 miles away from this gas station) and this same lady walks in. We see each other and I see the most memorable look of “you have to be kidding me” on her face.

I sit her down and go off to bus a table and the moment I leave the front of the restaurant she hops up and makes a mad dash out the door. I don’t think that wide grin left my face for an hour. That moment was probably the best thing ten dollars could ever buy.

Scam victimsUnsplash

39. The Show Won’t Go On

Back in 2006, when I was 18, my friend and I were in a hookah bar and we met this guy who said he ran this pretty popular online radio station and he could give us a program on it. He had a flyer with a website and phone number on so he seemed somewhat legit. I was still kind of skeptical about it, but my friend was really excited to do it.

He said we had to pay like $35 to buy the slot, which I thought made sense at the time, so I put up the money. We were supposed to meet with him again the next day so he could show us how to do everything. My friend was really excited and we spent the rest of the evening putting together a mix CD of what songs we wanted to play.

The next day, we went to meet him again at the hookah place and he was not there. We called the number on the flyer and there was no reply. I asked an employee about him, since he said he often hosted the program there. They said they had never seen him before yesterday.

Scam victimsShutterstock

40. Taylor-Made Scam

My grandma got a phone call from a male who simply said, "Grandma?" She assumed it was my cousin Taylor and said, "Taylor?" The man on the phone said he was indeed Taylor and told her he was in Mexico and in trouble and needed $10,000 right away or someone was going to hurt him. He told her if she got the cash, someone would be by that afternoon to pick it up. Thank god someone saved her.

Luckily, the bank teller asked her why she was pulling out so much money and suggested she call one of her kids. The authorities were called and they waited at her home for the money collector. If they ever came by, they didn't make themselves known...most likely because of the surveillance car on the street.

Scam victimsPexels

41. Fake Reality

My friend had texted me that he found a website selling the Oculus Quest 2 for only $100. The second I bought it I realized it was a scam. We both lost $100 from a person who built a better-looking website than the actual company themselves.

Scam victimsPexels

42. Automated Menus Are The Worst

In the 90s my friend got a letter saying that he had won a contest, all he had to do was call a 1-900 number that charged two dollars a minute. It took him about ten minutes to navigate the automated menus once and it ended with him having won one dollar which would be applied to his phone bill.

Scam victimsUnsplash

43. Work Smart, Not Hard

I don't know if its necessarily the most elaborate scam of all time, but there are a range of fake sites online that offer ESTA visas 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 “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.

Scam victimsPexels

44. He Lost A Lot

It was a simple scam, but I fell for an MLM scheme back in freshman year of my undergrad because I hadn't heard about MLMs at the time. The product was a course which I thought might help me later on, but it basically taught you syntax to some programming languages. Then the daily calls from the guy above me started coming in.

He would pressure me to pitch this to others. So much so that I would get mini panic attacks whenever my phone rang. I lost a good friend after I pitched it to him with the script that they hand you. I lost money, time, and peace-of-mind because of this.

Scam victimsPexels

45. Not A Fair Trade

I had a 280$ collectible stolen from me by some kid over Discord. I was trying to trade my butterfly knife and he copied a popular trader’s account and started up a conversation with me to get me to send him the knife in exchange for one of his. Well, it worked. I packaged and sent the knife and waited for his package in return, it never arrived.

Scam victimsUnsplash

46. Don’t Mess With The Classics

A guy had a small pea with three walnut shells. He put the pea under one shell and shifted them all around and asked me which shell I thought it was under. I was wrong. I did it two more times, losing three dollars. I later found out the pea is magnetic, so no matter what shell you picked, it was the wrong one.

Scam victimsUnsplash

47. Gone Fishing

Back in the late 90s, 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 mail—and I tried to meet up with him so many times, but he always had something come up.

One night when we were supposed to meet finally, HIS COUSIN shows up and said he was on his way, he told me to wait. He 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.

Scam VictimsPexels

48. At Least They Had Some Fun

Someone in my super small town got their grill stolen off their front porch one day. 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.”

They included NFL tickets as a way to apologize. Needless to say, the people who lived there were relieved to have their grill back and went to the game that Saturday and had a really nice time. Except. Our town was about two hours from where the game was held. Between the drive there and back and the football game, I’d say the family was gone for about ten hours that day. When they came back, they made a horrifying discovery.

Their house had been totally ransacked. Everything. Electronics, cash, jewelry, ANYTHING you could think of as potentially valuable was gone. Someone concocted 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 bejeebus out of them. All for the cost of a couple of football tickets.

Scam victimsPexels

49. Fear Is A Powerful Motivator

A guy called my wife at work and said he is from the Washington State Police (we live in Texas), and that the store she works at is being investigated for tax evasion. The guy says if she doesn’t cooperate, she would be added as an accomplice, but she could just get the whole issue resolved. All she had to do is get $1,000 out the safe.

She was then instructed to get Visa gift cards and give them the numbers to pay the back-tax, then all is fine. The worst part? She fell for it. She told the other workers she was taking her break, took the cash, got the cards and read off the numbers to the dude…then got fired.

Scam victimsWikimedia.Commons

50. Stranger Danger

On my first trip to San Francisco, some guy stopped me and asked the time. He mentioned he was late to a sold-out concert, which was happening that night. We got to talking and he said he had found tickets, 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 the band, 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 four hours with me, just to make $20. But ever since then, I never talk to strangers.

Scam victimsUnsplash

Sources: Reddit,



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