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It was wrapped in white paper, I am loosing my mind paniking because that was almost my whole pay how could I possibly recoop that you know|?
August 14, 2008 3:27 PM   Subscribe

I found your money. It's uncanny: the next guy emailing to claim the money that Rob "found" always describes it precisely as Rob described the money to the previous emailer.
posted by orthogonality (78 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Clever investigation by Rob, but you don't win unless you get them to send you a photo of themselves posing with a milk bottle on their heads.
posted by Creosote at 3:36 PM on August 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


Give it back! It's mine.
posted by clearly at 3:39 PM on August 14, 2008


Not quite - I like the way they add credible uncertainty. $800? I think it was $798
posted by A189Nut at 3:39 PM on August 14, 2008


The only part Rob forgot was attaching fishing line to the bills so he could yank it out of their grasp every time they reached for it.
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:39 PM on August 14, 2008


I like money.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:41 PM on August 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


This account of things made me feel like Craigslist is continuously monitored by people wanting to con/take advantage of others. That Rob got responses so quickly and the one respondent had access to so many established e-mail accounts really emphasizes that people out there are just waiting for posts like Rob's to go up.
posted by chudmonkey at 3:41 PM on August 14, 2008


One time when I was in Dallas I lost $790 that I had wrapped in the centerfold pages from Oprah's "O" magazine.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 3:44 PM on August 14, 2008


This account of things made me feel like Craigslist is continuously monitored by people wanting to con/take advantage of others.

No, Craigslist is continuously monitored by people like Tornado Man (text potentially NSFW).
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:46 PM on August 14, 2008 [6 favorites]


googling "craigslist rental scam" is instructive.
posted by Creosote at 3:49 PM on August 14, 2008


Can you believe my work blocks "cockeyed.com?" I do.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 3:52 PM on August 14, 2008


Craigslist is continuously monitored by people like Tornado Man

Tornado Man strikes me as a better sort than the scammers and their ilk. TM had the courage to express an extremely unconventional sexual desire, and he did it in a way that didn't really offer much protection from public exposure. We should all be so bold.
posted by chudmonkey at 3:52 PM on August 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


The next day, I found some more money, in cities all across the country. What a day I had!
I found money in Minneapolis, Seattle, Las Vegas and Dallas.


Does he travel a lot or is it a prank?
posted by starman at 3:55 PM on August 14, 2008


Starman: it's a prank. There are clues to this, such as the article being filed in the "Pranks" section on the website, but I understand your confusion - Rob's deadpan approach doesn't play-out very clearly in this article.
posted by chudmonkey at 3:59 PM on August 14, 2008


WTF? Looking for JO bud, but "none of that gay stuff"?... send pick of face and dick?... should be shaved down there...

I don't think he understands what "gay" means.
posted by Meatbomb at 4:00 PM on August 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


My mistake - this article is not filed in the "Pranks" section on Cockeyed.com.
posted by chudmonkey at 4:01 PM on August 14, 2008


Can you really tell whether a Yahoo email address is "long-established" or not?
posted by dixie flatline at 4:09 PM on August 14, 2008


is it a prank?

In the latter part of the article, you'll see how he gives a detail or two about the money he found, then a "new" person writes including only those details, he says, "Oh, sorry, the money was [insert new detail here]", and so yet another "new" person writes in, including those new details, and so on. Seems like more a social experiment than a prank.

I do have to wonder, how many of those writing in are some sort of professional Craigslist scammers, hanging out waiting for posts like this one, and how many were just regular lurkers/posters who saw it and thought, "Screw it, I'll give it a shot"?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:12 PM on August 14, 2008


Can you really tell whether a Yahoo email address is "long-established" or not?

You can google it and see how far back the results go.
posted by chudmonkey at 4:16 PM on August 14, 2008


Hey! That's MY money!
posted by Artw at 4:18 PM on August 14, 2008


I baited a craigslist scammer for a while, requiring that he send me a photo of a pig riding on a cow before I would complete the transaction. (Don't ask, I had my reasons)

i hope u are not make fun of me due to what is going on between us and also i want u to know that what goes around comes around.....if u help me out of this then someone else will help u in another way......i am in winston salem and there is no farm around me either.....so proably u could get a pics of cow and pigs seperately cus even in the farm they can not cage cow and pigs together u know it urself
ok...if u do not send me my money it will not be good at all...to me cus am running out of cash now and i need some cash or the cell phone

posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 4:20 PM on August 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


Someone should do this over at missed connections.

davros: It was at Porter Square. 5ish. The barest sliver of a moon was riding the sky. Do you remember the tall, aloof 20something with the elliptical wireframes and an expression culled from a hundred Vice covers?
new_slang82: omg, with the fixed gear bicycle! i remember u!
davros: Oh. Oh dear. No, sorry I was the asthmatic Segway cop lurking next to that jackass and his infinite brethren. Names Joe. Howyadoin.
posted by kid ichorous at 4:20 PM on August 14, 2008 [12 favorites]


Seems like more a social experiment than a prank.

Probably, it was just written without much context.
posted by starman at 4:40 PM on August 14, 2008


I don't know, these things always leave a bad taste. It's entrapment plain and simple, isn't it?
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 4:41 PM on August 14, 2008


Ugh. I'm grossed out by this, and I don't mean the Craigslist respondents.

If you go looking for crooked people you'll always find them. But we know nothing about these people and sitting around judging and presuming and cackling is so ugly.

Why doesn't this guy use his energy to do something to uplift people rather than exploit something as obvious as human nature? What exactly is he proving? Nada. What is he managing to say? Nothing. What is the point? There isn't one.
posted by loiseau at 4:42 PM on August 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


But we know nothing about these people and sitting around judging and presuming and cackling is so ugly.

We know they're willing to lie to take someone else's money. That doesn't necessarily mean they're evil, but it's a good start. And your disgust is instead focused on the guy who first tries to return found money and then tries to warn the rest of us about one of the techniques that scammers use?

You're right that the world should be a more uplifting place. But you're not helping.
posted by roystgnr at 4:55 PM on August 14, 2008 [7 favorites]


What is the point?

That it's funny?
posted by katillathehun at 4:55 PM on August 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Craigslist is continuously monitored by people wanting to con/take advantage of others..."

Curiously enough, when CraigsList first started many moons ago I kinda got that hunch of a feeling from the outset, so I really don't spend much time there at all.

I'm sure I must be missing out and it's my own fault not taking that risk. Whatever. Sounds like a great party and all kinds of people having fun doing all kindsa great things and I'm like that's great. You guys go have fun in that corner of the Internet. I'll be over here getting used and abused by snake oil salesmen slightly less often.

I feel about the same way about Mardi Gras. Sounds like fun. Also sounds like I'd be walking around there totally oblivious to the big "KICK ME" sign on my back alerting all the criminal types to how much of a mark I'd be for them. Color me uninterested. Once bitten twice shy and all that.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:58 PM on August 14, 2008


we know nothing about these people and sitting around judging and presuming and cackling is so ugly

Except that they think they are trying to steal from somebody. I mean, yeah, the experiment is goofy and a bit icky, but the long and short of it is that the person responding knows that the money doesn't belong to him, and yet he is trying to take it. By telling silly lies. Does it expose the sad human condition? Yes. Is anyone hurt? Not really.

I hadn't read Cockeyed in an awful long time, but the Gold Kit bit is fantastic. Don't miss the reader who tried it.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:00 PM on August 14, 2008


Craigslist: I don't think he understands what "gay" means.
posted by Nattie at 5:03 PM on August 14, 2008


I found $100 in a Lowe's a few weeks ago. Never could figure out how we could find the owner. Anymore, I just figure some people pay Idiot Tax and some people collect Attentiveness Incentive.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:03 PM on August 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


But seriously, it IS my money. Don’t believe clearly's lies. Give it back, or I will cut you.
posted by Artw at 5:03 PM on August 14, 2008


Why doesn't this guy use his energy to do something to uplift people

Geez... look at the rest of Rob's site: he's done a lot to uplift me over the years, with his art, his "science" projects, his entertaining and thoroughly harmless pranks... despite the fact that his web-design sensibility is stuck in 1997, Rob Cockerham is good people, and his exploring and documenting a hunch he had about the baser instincts of some people doesn't reduce his over-all uplifting-ness.
posted by chudmonkey at 5:03 PM on August 14, 2008 [16 favorites]


I got hung out to dry at BoingBoing (idiots!), when I objected to Rob and his sociological study.

My problem is that he's scamming Craig's list (It doesn't matter to me who the targets are, he's posting against the policies of the community)... So, when someone does a self link here, or disagrees with Cory what's his name at boingboing, it is nuked... but everyone gets a chuckle out of screwing with craig's list...

Sorry, ethics are ethics... doesn't matter which community it is...
posted by HuronBob at 5:07 PM on August 14, 2008


That doesn't necessarily mean they're evil, but it's a good start.

Except that they think they are trying to steal from somebody... the long and short of it is that the person responding knows that the money doesn't belong to him, and yet he is trying to take it.

Society, at every level, is full of people who would do immoral or illegal things if they were desperate enough. The problem with entrapment is it targets only the people who actually are desperate enough. I've got no reason to think the guy behind this site isn't a good guy in general, but this prank inevitably involves cackling at poor people.

(And yes I know the vast majority of poor people wouldn't dream of trying to perpetrate scams. That's not the point.)
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 5:08 PM on August 14, 2008


The problem with entrapment is it targets only the people who actually are desperate enough.

Not just that. Entrapment can involve the bullying or deliberate misrepresentation of the law to people who are merely gullible or unaware of legal complexities. For example, Entrapment by Estoppel.

Calling this entrapment is a little bit overkill.
posted by kid ichorous at 5:25 PM on August 14, 2008


Calling this entrapment is a little bit overkill.

Yes, fair point. This prank is not shockingly repulsive and horrific, it's just rather unpleasant.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 5:28 PM on August 14, 2008


People are the reason we can't have nice things.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:29 PM on August 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Why doesn't this guy use his energy to do something to uplift people...

All together now ... everyone link hands ... Kum ba yah, my Lord, kum ba yaaaaaah...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:29 PM on August 14, 2008


REQUEST FOR URGENT BUSINESS RELATIONS

DEAR HONORED MISTER ROB. I AM PLEASED TO INFORM YOU THAT YOUR STRICTEST CONFIDENCE IS GREATLY APPRECIATED. TO INTRODUCE MYSELF TO YOUR HONORED SELF. I AM SECOND LIEUTENANT FRANCIS OMBOKE OF THE NIGERIAN DEFENCE FORCES. MY PATERNAL UNCLE THE HONORABLE MR. GLENWOOD OMBOKE WAS UNTIL RECENTLY THE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR TO THE NIGERIAN NATIONAL ENERGY FOUNDATION. HE CAME INTO A LARGE SUM OF $US9,533,200 (NINE MILLION FIVE HUNDRED THIRTY THREE THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED UNITED STATES DOLLARS) THROUGH HIS HARDWORKING CHRISTIAN ENDEAVORS.

THESE FUNDS IN THE SUM OF $US9,533,200 (NINE MILLION FIVE HUNDRED THIRTY THREE THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED UNITED STATES DOLLARS) HAVE BEEN WRAPPED IN MAGAZINE PAPER AND PLACED IN THE SHOE DEPARTMENT OF THE CAMP WISDOM MERVYN STORE. UNFORTUNATELY MY PATERNAL UNCLE THE HONORABLE MR. GLENWOOD OMBOKE IS UNABLE TO RETRIEVE THIS SUM OF $US9,533,200 (NINE MILLION FIVE HUNDRED THIRTY THREE THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED UNITED STATES DOLLARS) FROM THE SHOE DEPARTMENT OF THE CAMP WISDOM MERVYN STORE DUE TO BUREAUCRATIC REGULATIONS RESULTING FROM THE CORRUPTION OF THE NATIONAL BANK OF NIGERIA.

MY PATERNAL UNCLE THE HONORABLE MR. GLENWOOD OMBOKE HAS DELEGATED ME TO ACT IN HIS BEHALF ON THIS MATTER TO RETRIEVE THIS SUM OF $US9,533,200 (NINE MILLION FIVE HUNDRED THIRTY THREE THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED UNITED STATES DOLLARS) FROM THE SHOE DEPARTMENT OF THE CAMP WISDOM MERVYN STORE. I HAVE BEEN AUTHORIZED TO OFFER ANY PERSON OR PERSONS OR ENTITY OR ENTITIES WHO AID IN THE EFFORT TO RETRIEVE THIS SUM OF $US9,533,200 (NINE MILLION FIVE HUNDRED THIRTY THREE THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED UNITED STATES DOLLARS) FROM THE SHOE DEPARTMENT OF THE CAMP WISDOM MERVYN STORE.

TO THAT END I AM PLEASED TO AUTHORIZE DISPENSATION OF THIS SUM OF $US9,533,200 (NINE MILLION FIVE HUNDRED THIRTY THREE THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED UNITED STATES DOLLARS) AS FOLLOWS: 3.20 PER CENT TO HANDLE BUREAUCRATIC MATTERS IN NIGERIA. 1.60 PER CENT TO HANDLE BUREAUCRATIC MATTERS IN THE UNITED STATES. 5.40 PER CENT TO YOU THE HONORED MISTER ROB FOR YOUR AID AND CONFIDENCE IN THIS MATTER. A MODEST 0.30 PER CENT FOR MY OWN TROUBLES IN HANDLING AND ORGANIZING THIS RETRIEVAL. THE REMAINDER TO THE RIGHTFUL OWNER MY PATERNAL UNCLE THE HONORABLE MR. GLENWOOD OMBOKE.

PLEASE NOTE IN THE STRICTEST CONFIDENCE THAT THE SHARE OF 5.40 PER CENT TO YOU THE HONORED MISTER ROB FOR YOUR AID AND CONFIDENCE IN THIS MATTER IS EQUAL TO A SUM IN THE AMOUNT OF $US514,792.80 (FIVE HUNDRED FOURTEEN THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED NINETY TWO AND EIGHTY ONE-HUNDREDTHS UNITED STATES DOLLARS).

I LOOK FORWARD TO CONDUCTING THIS TRANSACTION IN THE STRICTEST CONFIDENCE WITH YOU THE HONORED MISTER ROB. PLEASE INITIATE THE NECESSARY STEPS TO RETRIEVE THIS SUM OF $US9,533,200 (NINE MILLION FIVE HUNDRED THIRTY THREE THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED UNITED STATES DOLLARS) BY REPLYING IN THE STRICTEST CONFIDENCE WITH YOUR FULL LEGAL NAME, A DIGITIZED IMAGE OF YOUR BIRTH CERTIFICATE, AND OF COURSE YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER SO THAT I CAN BEGIN TO WORK ON THE NECESSARY PAPERWORK AT THE NATIONAL BANK OF NIGERIA.

YOURS WITH GREAT LOVE

SECOND LIEUTENANT FRANCIS OMBOKE
posted by Flunkie at 5:30 PM on August 14, 2008 [5 favorites]


THESE FUNDS IN THE SUM OF $US9,533,200 (NINE MILLION FIVE HUNDRED THIRTY THREE THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED UNITED STATES DOLLARS) HAVE BEEN WRAPPED IN MAGAZINE PAPER AND PLACED IN THE SHOE DEPARTMENT OF THE CAMP WISDOM MERVYN STORE.

I think that was the plot to Jackie Brown.
posted by kid ichorous at 5:42 PM on August 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


Once I found $5 floating inside of a pair of briefs at Jones Beach. I spent it on a frozen Snickers bar.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:46 PM on August 14, 2008


I'm just the sort of rube who would post a notice if I found a wad of cash and giving it to the second or third respondent is just the sort of thing I would do.

I'm glad to have this con pointed out to me.
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:16 PM on August 14, 2008


This prank is not shockingly repulsive and horrific, it's just rather unpleasant.

Yeah, it is kind of an unpleasant experiment. It might be slightly better if he disclosed all his tactics and revealed some kind of purpose behind it, in addition to linking it to some kind of sociological phenomenon... at least then it'd be unpleasant in the name of science.

But I guess not everything has to be a plate of beans.
posted by starman at 6:23 PM on August 14, 2008


I got an extra $20 at an ATM one day.

Best damn day of my life.
posted by yhbc at 6:38 PM on August 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I love Rob Cockerham, he's the best. I would JO with him in pretty much any low-pressure system you could name, in a 100% non-gay manner.

The folks who are nervous that he's being mean-spirited to desperate strangers should take some time to read his site. He's a good-hearted, generous guy. He is without a doubt a net force for good in the universe.
posted by popechunk at 6:42 PM on August 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


I like money.

Shut UP! Batin'!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:44 PM on August 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


I picked up a queenie ($20) that someone probably dropped when they exited the cab the previous night.

Kept me in cigarettes for a week during a period where I was unemployed.

Hey, thanks dude/tte! If you tell me who you are, I'd love to buy you a couple of drinks.
posted by porpoise at 6:46 PM on August 14, 2008


Amazing.

I think stuff like this is endlessly informative.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:29 PM on August 14, 2008


I found your money greed.

Fixed that for you.
posted by bwg at 8:08 PM on August 14, 2008


Hey, thanks dude/tte! If you tell me who you are, I'd love to buy you a couple of drinks.

I live in DC; can you be here this weekend?
posted by inigo2 at 8:18 PM on August 14, 2008


wait, wait, wait... he misused an online community, in a manner that is deemed inappropriate in it's terms of use....

Those of us that value online communities... ('doh...metafilter for example), should have a problem with this...
posted by HuronBob at 8:36 PM on August 14, 2008


it's = its , of course... damn i hate that
posted by HuronBob at 8:37 PM on August 14, 2008


roystgnr said: " And your disgust is instead focused on the guy who first tries to return found money and then tries to warn the rest of us about one of the techniques that scammers use?"

You mean pretends to try to return found money by putting up fake posts, and then makes huge assumptions about the respondents.

Mean-spirited... just like this community is much of the time. Gross, just gross.
posted by loiseau at 8:59 PM on August 14, 2008


That was confusing--I gave up after the first couple of emails.
posted by zardoz at 9:27 PM on August 14, 2008


The problem with entrapment is it targets only the people who actually are desperate enough. I've got no reason to think the guy behind this site isn't a good guy in general, but this prank inevitably involves cackling at poor people.

That's an interesting assumption you're making, that the person/people who are trying to scam users on craigslist are poor. I don't see that assertion or implication anywhere on Rob's page. In fact, part of his original reason for posting about the found money was concern that somebody without much money may have lost it.

But this assumption does kind of explain the differences here. Rob and others just see liars attempting to take advantage of people, others see people like Rob taking advantage of the disadvantaged. Personlly, I think Rob is the one making fewer assumptions.
posted by formless at 9:52 PM on August 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


Once I found $5 floating inside of a pair of briefs at Jones Beach. I spent it on a frozen Snickers bar.

Idiot. You could have gotten $200 (or, more) for the briefs on eBay. The uderwear was most likely lost there by Alec Baldwin -- or, one of his brothers.
posted by ericb at 10:19 PM on August 14, 2008


others see people like Rob taking advantage of the disadvantaged.

And others--such as HuronBob, loiseau, and myself--see Rob as deliberately transgressing the rules and guidelines of his community. We hate spammers here; why is it okay when someone breaks the rules elsewhere?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:33 PM on August 14, 2008


There does seem to be a quite complicated ecosystem of predators feeding off Craigslist. Like this:
im a man so dont think i have changed at all its just theres a add on here you need to be aware of its under the heading of (Want to share my wine with me)
dont go there i contacted her she replied to my email then said straight away why dont we swap numbers i gave her my number but she never called me she gave me her number but its a premium rate number its cost me over £40 in just two days of speaking to her for about 3 hours on the phone so dont go there men.
Similar: the near date phone scam.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 11:02 PM on August 14, 2008


You know who else did unpleasant things in the name of science?

That's right - Joseph Mengele.
posted by Meatbomb at 12:09 AM on August 15, 2008


We hate spammers here; why is it okay when someone breaks the rules elsewhere?

What Rob did here wasn't science, it wasn't art and it wasn't even really commentary in the form it took. But it wasn't spam, either. It was an exploration of a thought. Perhaps making any post with false content is a technical violation of the craigslist TOS, but the intent and the possible impact have to be considered before we condemn the entire effort in favour of a technicality.

No one could do on MeFi what Rob did on craigslist. What Rob did was essentially entrapment, but he's not in law enforcement and he didn't have any law enforcement aim, so that's a specious claim. He was simply trying to observe how inclined individuals would attempt to defraud a samaritan in possession of found cash. Most people finding his craigslist posting would pass them over since they were false postings and therefore didn't actually relate to anyone. Only the indiscriminately curious or the potential fraudster would read the message, and I think we can allow that the former wants something to read anyhow and the latter deserves a bit of his time wasted.

Allowing for the unlikely possibility that people actually lost money at the locations chosen by Rob on the dates in question, the worst possible outcome of this effort is a little bit of falsely-raised hope on the part of the money-loser. Since the false post would never have related to this hypothetical loser anyhow, there's no material harm. There was no intent and clearly no possibility for Rob to profit from this effort, except by satisfying his own curiosity and adding a page to his site. The closest offense that the setup of MeFi offers is getting away with chatfilter or asking an out-right fabricated question. But even if the goodwill of the community is abused in those instances, everyone is still participating voluntarily and the effort expended by any one individual in any one instance is typical minimal and (dare I say it?) incidental.

Rob no more abused craigslist than someone posting a flyer for an ugly dinette set on a campus bulletin board abused the dorm. His postings did not encourage any honest person to engage in any effort whatsoever, particularly not to his benefit or their detriment, and they were effectively as non-invasive as any craigslist post in that they were of interest to a small percentage of visitors and likely ignored by the majority.
posted by chudmonkey at 1:12 AM on August 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


You mistake me; I wasn't calling him a spammer. He was, however, violating the craigslist TOS. So, since we beat up on people who do it here (spammers were just one example), why is it okay elsewhere?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:59 AM on August 15, 2008


He was, however, violating the craigslist TOS. So, since we beat up on people who do it here (spammers were just one example), why is it okay elsewhere?

Because we care about here and we don't care about there. Perfectly natural way to be.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 4:07 AM on August 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Natural, maybe. Right? No.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:15 AM on August 15, 2008


Why doesn't this guy use his energy to do something to uplift people

If you read the pages of emails in response to his exposure of the Herbalife industry (and to a lesser extent, the expensive door-to-door vacuum company), you'll see a lot of people grateful for his work who might have otherwise lost thousands of dollars. I think that qualifies as uplifting/a positive force.

Granted this bit wasn't as interesting/extensive/revealing, but the guy just likes to try out stuff he thinks of. You have to take the good with the meh.
posted by mikepop at 5:48 AM on August 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: You have to take the good with the meh
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:11 AM on August 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


What chudmonkey said. Plus, he wasn't printing the replies of every desperate person who might respond to a notice about found money. He was posting only the responses of bona fide con-artists who were operating with multiple email accounts.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:40 AM on August 15, 2008


since we beat up on people who do it here (spammers were just one example), why is it okay elsewhere?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:59 AM on August 15


No one gets mad at spammers here because they're "breaking the TOS"; people get mad at spammers because they are greedy, ruthless assholes. People break rules here all the time. It's about intent.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:41 AM on August 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


That's an interesting assumption you're making, that the person/people who are trying to scam users on craigslist are poor.

The assumption is based on the rather reasonable idea that well-off people (among whom I'm sure there are as many potential petty fraudsters, ie., they have the personality that would allow them to do it if needed) wouldn't spend time and risk punishment by trying to obtain small sums of money allegedly left in the parking lots of discount superstores. That's my whole point.

Maybe calling it entrapment is overkill, and I realize it's just a small-scale thing, but I tink it's telling that the main justification for this guy's behavior so far, judging by this thread, is that elsewhere on his site there are some great things that aren't mean-spirited. I don't doubt it.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 7:53 AM on August 15, 2008


We got some whiny little bitches over here. Rob is engaged in entrapment? Jesus, some of you people are so mamby-pamby you make me want to join the republican party. Fuckin' man up! That goes for the ladies, too.

ZachsMind, you don't use craigslist because you don't want to get scammed? I can understand avoiding ebay, but with CL you can actually go and look at what you're buying before you spend money. I've never been scammed on CL; quite the contrary, some of the things I've bought have netted me ridiculous savings (a top of the line computer at 1/3 price, a good couch for $40, a decent dresser for $30...etc. etc.). But hey, more bargains for me.
posted by Edgewise at 8:08 AM on August 15, 2008


We got some whiny little bitches over here. Rob is engaged in entrapment? Jesus, some of you people are so mamby-pamby you make me want to join the republican party. Fuckin' man up! That goes for the ladies, too.

Well, this comment certainly went a long way towards reassuring me that there's nothing in this prank that would particularly appeal to unpleasant sneery people who think it's embarrassingly uncool to be uncynical about anything ever.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 9:30 AM on August 15, 2008


I lost my wallet three times in as many years when I lived in Minneapolis. I lived in the 7th poorest neighborhood while I was there.

Each and every time it was returned to me with cash intact, and the one time it wasn't, the guy apologized profusely. Each time it was returned I offered the entire cash contents as a reward. Each time it was refused. Never more than $40, but never less than $20 either.

The one time there was no cash, I honestly couldn't remember what I'd had in there, but again, any reward was refused.

The funny part about one of these times was that my door buzzer went off at 6:30 AM, and I hadn't even noticed the lack of wallet yet, so thought the guy was scamming his way into a security building. Not so.

There are honest people out there.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:31 AM on August 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Note that Rob's original message on Craig's list had to do with a real incident of his having found $60, his genuine effort to find the person who lost it, and then getting some replies he found suspicious. The responses to this real event are what seemed to pique his curiosity and prompt him to conduct experiments at different locations to see if this was an anomaly or the norm. He didn't start out with a "I think I'll see if I can catch some scammers in craigslist" intent, but when he found some, he did go back to test whether scamming was a common response to such a query. That still may not sit well with the ethical purists here, but I think the distinction is significant.
posted by madamjujujive at 11:01 AM on August 15, 2008 [3 favorites]


I really don't have a problem with him, or anyone else for that matter, baiting thieves and scammers. If he wants to jerk around assholes on CraigsList who are obviously trying to steal what's not theirs, great. If people want to write long, involved emails, full of requests back to Nigeria scammers for entertainment, also cool. It doesn't strike me as a great way to spend an evening, but to each their own.

Every minute the scammer spends responding to the bait is one less minute they can spend actually stealing from or scamming someone. By decreasing the success rate, it makes pulling scams less attractive, which is a good thing all around. (Although I expect the marginal effect of each anti-scammer is so small as to be basically negligible, it probably would be significant if a large number of people started doing it en masse.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:54 PM on August 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


Hello, The money was lost! The definition of which means that the person who 'lost' it has no idea where or when, otherwise it would not be 'lost', nor could it ever be found. This is what we call a conundrum. The whole point of this exercise is moot. So just gimme back my damn money.
posted by Gungho at 1:30 PM on August 15, 2008


What I read and what complaining people here are saying happened appear to be two entirely different things.

This is what I read:
He found money, he put a post in Craigslist, and the responses he got looked like they were from a con man trying to get the money (and therefore potentially steal the money from the actual person who lost it).

This wasn't entrapment.

Then, he did an experiment to find out if this kind of con is common, and found out that it is.

I certainly learned something. I'm the kind of gullable person who wouldn't notice the e-mail coincidence and would give the money to the con man, therefore depriving a possible desperate person of their lost money.

I, and I would assume others, learned something, and wouldn't be so gullible if this situation ever comes up.

All you 'it's entrapment' people can go jump in a lake.
posted by eye of newt at 9:49 PM on August 15, 2008


Or what madamjujujive said.
posted by eye of newt at 9:52 PM on August 15, 2008


MetaFilter: we got some whiny little bitches over here
posted by bwg at 5:06 PM on August 16, 2008


"If you go looking for crooked people you'll always find them."

Except he wasn't. He started out looking for an honest person who actually lost money. A crooked person showed up that he wasn't looking for. They tried a scam he wasn't already familiar with. Then he went looking to see if other crooked people tried the same scam, which isn't something you'll always find. Some scams are common, some are unusual.

"But we know nothing about these people and sitting around judging and presuming and cackling is so ugly."

That's a problem with us, not with Rob. His article doesn't have tons of judging, presuming, or cackling.

"Why doesn't this guy use his energy to do something to uplift people rather than exploit something as obvious as human nature?"

As has already been mentioned, he does use his energy to uplift people. A hell of a lot more than pretty much any web folks I can think of. He also uses it to help people. Like using Craigslist to try to give back money that he found, instead of just keeping it. He also clues people in to common scams (see his big herbalife series), which is pretty darn positive. This isn't the kind of scam that would have caught me, but we have several people in thread saying that it would have caught them. So here he's using his energy to uplift people by pointing out a nonobvious manifestation of obvious human nature.

"What exactly is he proving?"

His goal isn't to prove anything. It is to investigate, to learn new stuff, and to share what he learned. He has learned something new, and shared it.

"What is he managing to say?"

Again, it's not about "saying" anything. It's about discovery. The internet isn't just a platform for people to ram their convictions down the throats of others. Sure, MeFi often seems like that; that you have to have an opinion, it has to be strong, and you have to try your hardest to make other people agree with you, and if any of those pillars doesn't exist, your comment is pointless (unless it's a joke). But interaction doesn't need to be so hard and aggressive. You can, instead, just share something interesting and informative, like a scam you've discovered.

"What is the point?"

Sharing something interesting and informative, like a scam you've discovered.
posted by Bugbread at 10:48 AM on August 26, 2008


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