It was my first time. I was a Craig’s List virgin. But I’ve given it up for life. From now on, I will be a Craig’s List celibate – a “volcel,” you could call me.
John and I are cleaning out, packing up, and putting our house on the market. Naturally, then, it was time to sell the weight machine we bought for Jacob in 2008, when he was playing rugby. A neighbor who bought nothing but the best stuff, sold it to us for a song. Of course, nobody has used it since, oh, 2009, unless one needed an expensive piece of fitness equipment to “hold my beer” in Jacob’s man cave.
I listed it for $400. And I got a bite! Or maybe, I got bitten.
You see, a very busy man named (and I am not making this up) Scalzo McRoy from nearby Maryland wanted to buy it! In spite of his weird name, I was willing to sell it to him (or really, to anybody who would take the damn thing). Scalzo contacted me by email, offered the full price, and said he would arrange for someone to move it.
“I’m familiar with the make and model, and from the pictures, it looks to be in great shape,” he wrote. “My secretary will send you a certified check. Is it OK if I write the check to you, and include the fee for the movers in it? Then you can pay them in cash when they come to get it.”
“You don’t need to give me a certified check,” I responded. He ignored me.
Friday afternoon, a certified check did arrive – for $1,550.00. One thousand, one hundred and fifty dollars over the asking price. Now, the machine is big and heavy, and it will not be cheap to move. But $1,150? Were they going to buy a new truck for the move?
“Scalzo,” I wrote him after picking my jaw up off the floor, “this seems excessive.” But it was a certified check in my name, so I needed to go to the bank with it.
“Fifty dollars is for you, for your help,” he informed me.
He was giving me a tip. And who do you think was going to move it, Don Jr. and Eric?
Scalzo then asked me to get the movers a money order that afternoon, send him a photocopy of it, and send the money order for $1100 to the movers in Texas.
No wonder moving it was so expensive! Scalzo was going to import movers from Texas to Virginia!
Now I’ve never heard of a bogus certified check. Nevertheless, I went into the bank and told them the story as I tried to deposit the money.
“There seems to be a problem here,” Amy, my bank teller said. “Do you mind waiting for a minute or two?”
So I sat and waited while each and every bank rep looked first at me, then at the check, then at me again.
Aiden, the bank manager, called me over to his desk.
“The check is fraudulent,” Aiden informed me. He asked for the story of how I’d gotten it. I told him about Craig’s List, Scalzo, the extra money (including my tip), and the request to send a $1100 money order to guys who were going to come from Texas to move a weight machine from Virginia to Maryland.
We contacted the police, and filed a report. Apparently, this sort of scam is not at all uncommon. And because the seller receives a “Certified” check, lots of people fall for it.
I did not send a money order to Scalzo’s Texas connection.
The moral of this story is:
Anybody need a weight machine? Cheap? You haul …