May 13, 2004 7:41 PM   Subscribe

An American Ebay seller realises a European bidder is trying to scam him out of a Powerbook (fake escrow site, hijacked ebay account), so he sends him something far better, a P-P-P-Powerbook! Now, for you non-techies here, a factory model p-p-p-powerbook weights half what it's competitors weigh, comes with an A4 screen, the latest in internet adventure software, zero boot time, a fullsize keyboard (often with Key RedundancyTM) and a state-of-the-art laser bluetooth mouse. This is technology. The seller posts to a forum and amongst the chatter people follow the package via the the Fedex tracking page and some even visit the delivery address (a barbershop/internet cafe) and take photos, video, and a seat for their hair cut. The duty tax on this particular p-p-p-powerbook is around £350 (paid for by the scammer) before he sees the package, and a few days later it's released by Customs as they watch in anticipation. A forum member arrives at the internet cafe, takes a seat and soon the package arrives. The scammer opens the box and there are angry raised voices heard. The barber doesn't understand what's wrong and asks... "Is it broken?"
posted by holloway (57 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The 28 page story [MS Word, 500K] with the emails between them, and a PDF version linked on this page.
posted by holloway at 7:45 PM on May 13, 2004

Thanks, holloway, this is fantastic!
posted by Zonker at 7:51 PM on May 13, 2004

Sheer genius. This is truly the best of the Web.
posted by keswick at 7:53 PM on May 13, 2004

Heh. The keyboard spells out 'U FAG', 'LOL'. Good old somethingawful.com.
posted by tapeguy at 7:55 PM on May 13, 2004

Dude, that touchpad has two buttons. Anybody have a sharpie? I wish to upgrade my Powerbook.
posted by Stan Chin at 7:57 PM on May 13, 2004

His name is Kk-k-en and cc-coming to Kkk-k-kkill you!
posted by nasim at 8:03 PM on May 13, 2004

God Bless the Intarweb.
posted by fillsthepews at 8:08 PM on May 13, 2004

Holy sweet heaven. That was absolutely the most fun I've had in weeks. And all I did was read read read.

posted by jeremy at 8:12 PM on May 13, 2004

that's hysterical--very well done turning of the tables. : >
posted by amberglow at 8:22 PM on May 13, 2004

OMG I laughed my ass off
posted by mikojava at 8:45 PM on May 13, 2004

posted by palegirl at 8:49 PM on May 13, 2004

[this is very good]
posted by Vidiot at 8:53 PM on May 13, 2004

Ack, I started getting ye olde forum payment nag at page 25. Now I'm partway in and can't finish! I even kicked in the ten bucks!
posted by MegoSteve at 9:10 PM on May 13, 2004

For what its worth, here's the original auction.

Great post!
posted by anastasiav at 9:26 PM on May 13, 2004

Oh, that's priceless.
posted by GriffX at 9:40 PM on May 13, 2004

Rad. Just freaking rad.
posted by eyeballkid at 10:00 PM on May 13, 2004

excellent! great post!
posted by joedan at 10:08 PM on May 13, 2004

Someone should pass this on to the fine folks at Apple's design department!

"A1 outsscamming! Will check the site again!!!"
posted by riffola at 10:11 PM on May 13, 2004

Pentel inside
posted by prodigalsun at 10:36 PM on May 13, 2004

Toxic levels of good!
posted by LinusMines at 10:51 PM on May 13, 2004

For what its worth, here's the original auction.

Looks like the final bidder was also a scam as eBay has killed the person's account.
posted by dobbs at 11:10 PM on May 13, 2004

Good to see that ebay didnt even both to help this guy or do anything other than plug escrow.com. No wonder people get ripped-off, ebay is slacking on helping them purchase and sell safely:
While waiting for his response, I decided, that because it was my original sale, I would report the account to eBay. I went through all the hoops, filled out all the forms. To sum it up, I let them know what we discovered, and asked them to take some action. This is what I get:


Thank you for writing to eBay's Customer Support with your concerns. My name is John and I appreciate the chance to answer your question. I'm happy to assist you further.

An Escrow service allows the buyer to send their money to the Escrow Company, and the Seller then ships the item to the Buyer. Once the Buyer approves the item the Escrow service then pays the Seller. eBay recommends escrow for transactions over $500.00.

The Escrow service affiliated with eBay is called Escrow.com. eBay encourages members to take advantage of the assurance that escrow services can provide. For more information on escrow, please see the following eBay page:


I wish you the best with your future transactions.


John W. S.
eBay Customer Support

WELL THANK YOU JOHN! MY CUP RUNETH OVER! Let’s see. . . someone is reporting an obvious scam and fake escrow site. Obviously he has no idea what escrow is. BETTER SCHOOL HIM!

This just plain pissed me off. Can this be their response to other reports of scams?
Perhaps this email was a little too angry:

Hi John,

Not to be rude, but I know quite well what escrow is. I also happen to know that this is an obvious scam attempt. Had you actually read the form I filled out on your site, and not replied with the canned response: Escrow 101, you would notice that I did not ask what escrow was. I was reporting someone wants to settle the sale outside of ebay, through an escrow site he referred me to. A site that claims to be a VeriSign secure site, but then you click the logo, he is hosting the VeriSign page -the page that should take you to the verisign site. This is a text book rip off.
This can't be your answer to everyone who reports these types of things can it? I really think you should take some action against this person.

posted by skallas at 11:27 PM on May 13, 2004

Here is a Jean Climax Pro Afro-Carribean hair stylist commemorative shirt
posted by mikojava at 11:27 PM on May 13, 2004

Also, someone else on SA forums proposed the "notebook" computer idea. Kudos for pulling it off, but its like this was a forum activity more than a personal one. scary.
posted by skallas at 11:30 PM on May 13, 2004

Now I'm badly waiting to see if the buyer will actually respond to the last email.
posted by phyrewerx at 11:34 PM on May 13, 2004

This is wonderful.
posted by pemulis at 11:53 PM on May 13, 2004

Me, I'm waiting to see if eBay respond to his last email. They have a huge, responsibility - which they are attempting to automate & dodge. That deserves wide dissemination too.
posted by dash_slot- at 11:56 PM on May 13, 2004

That's hilarious. Good to see a scammer getting scammed. eBay does need to get it's act together, it truly isn't proactive enough in taking down scammers.

Thanks for the link, holloway!
posted by Salmonberry at 12:01 AM on May 14, 2004

That was wonderful! Thank you!
posted by brism at 12:14 AM on May 14, 2004

holloway has restored my faith in this site. that was pure posting gold.
posted by chunking express at 12:16 AM on May 14, 2004

It's easy to dismiss SA, but when you get right down to it, they host some of the funniest/silliest stuff on the web...
posted by gen at 1:48 AM on May 14, 2004

Pretty ballsy for a law-abiding citizen to send a package internationally claiming to be a thing of value when it's not. He's pretty safe since the scammer is not going to complain. The only other party that might have a problem is British Customs and Excise as they handled a package with a bogus valuation and levied duty accordingly. But I'm sure they wouldn't complain either -- it netted HMG a couple hundred quid from an unpleasant character, which is surely a good thing. But in our hero's shoes, I wouldn't have done it -- which means I'm either a lot less nervy than he is or I think too much, and probably both.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:51 AM on May 14, 2004

I should add that he did it in the sure knowledge and belief that he was never going to see any money -- and can document the fact of that belief with his ongoing correspondence prior to the act, which presumably means in law that criminal intent can't be shown -- which is a lot more than the other guy can say.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:54 AM on May 14, 2004

I wish that I had more nerdy friends to pass the pure, webby goodness of this story to.

Even so.... pure comedy gold - like candid camera, with balls.
posted by dash_slot- at 2:56 AM on May 14, 2004

classic. thanks
posted by matteo at 3:06 AM on May 14, 2004

oh, I forgot: I don't know why but the part where the James Bond intel guy writes

"a big black guy (who looks just like the cook who has a heart attack in Crimson Tide

made me laugh uncontrollably, I don't know why
posted by matteo at 3:33 AM on May 14, 2004

If he settled the auction outside of eBay then how is eBay responsible? Somebody did something that eBay tells everybody never ever to do because there's a good chance it's a scam (and eBay probably loses money but they don't mention that) and somebody tries to scam them. Gosh. It's a hilarious story and I'm glad to see a scammer scammed but there's nothing eBay can do.

Somebody recently attempted to scam me and both eBay and PayPal came through and it didn't cost me a dime. But then I, you know, actually used eBay to complete the auction.
posted by substrate at 5:16 AM on May 14, 2004

That guy really needs some xanax if shipping something like this really upsets him so. They key to deviltry is to not let the excitement turn to anxiety.
posted by mischief at 5:22 AM on May 14, 2004

Off topic - your mefiswap mix has always been a favourite, holloway. Jesus I was evil, Different Worlds.

Keep up the good work holloway!
posted by asok at 5:43 AM on May 14, 2004

This is good stuff, scamming scammers is the sweetest revenge there is.
posted by fenriq at 7:43 AM on May 14, 2004

substrate: He didn't settle it out of ebay. He saw it for the scam it was and decided to screw around with the guy. He then reported the guy to ebay for trying to scam in this fashion.
posted by ODiV at 7:53 AM on May 14, 2004

something awful sucks. i'm blocking all referrers from them. the members link to my sites constantly (particularly my mirrors), gobbling up my bandwidth, and when i backtrack to the referring page i am always informed that i must fork $9.95 to view the page. well, good. when they all send me $9.95 each, i'll allow them to link my site from there. apparently, when a good opportunity for self-promotion comes along, as with this ebay scammer, he allows free access to that particular forum. well, sorry jeffy, the free ride on meepzorp is over.
posted by quonsar at 7:58 AM on May 14, 2004

It's dead now. Anybody got a mirror?
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:14 AM on May 14, 2004

pdf link here
as well
posted by das_2099 at 8:36 AM on May 14, 2004

This is good stuff, scamming scammers is the sweetest revenge there is.

I liked the one a while back where someone followed up on a 419, got the scammer to meet him at Dubai Airport, and got a couple of mates to stake him out and take photos (couldn't find a link, sorry). Like this one, a little anti-climactic, but funny when you imagine the look on the scammers' faces when they realise they've been had..
posted by etc at 8:36 AM on May 14, 2004

Pretty ballsy for a law-abiding citizen to send a package internationally claiming to be a thing of value when it's not.

It's not the value that's the problem, it's lying about the contents. Theoretically, he could have called the binder a work of art and put any value on it he saw fit.

eBay certainly has its share of problems with getting on top of things, but outside of the initial canned email i would say that they weren't in the wrong here. The second email certainly is more to the point.

The thing that bothers me most is that they refuse to do anything about bootleggers. This guy has sold hundreds of bootleg copies of a DVD and I personally have reported him at least 10 times (he makes it very difficult for people with legitimate copies of the dvd to sell it) and eBay has done jack shit about it.

I'm still in shock that anyone thought it a good idea to call a business New Jersey Chicken or Jean Climax. And they're on the same block!

As for scamming scammers, I love the one where the guy got the FBI and local police and FedEx involved and they actually caught the guy and sent him to prison.
posted by dobbs at 8:43 AM on May 14, 2004

I loved the "James T. Kirk" 419 scammer.
posted by Vidiot at 8:54 AM on May 14, 2004

Particularly pleasing for me, as I was once scammed in a similar way. Overseas sale... buyer demanded escrow... claimed box arrived empty.... It sucked. Insurance covered me, fortunately. But it's nice to see the sting point the other way.
posted by scarabic at 12:07 PM on May 14, 2004

A forum member arrives at the internet cafe, takes a seat and soon the package arrives. The scammer opens the box and there are angry raised voices heard. The barber doesn't understand what's wrong and asks... "Is it broken?"

Where is this passage from? The file I got ends while they're waiting for him to open it.
posted by bingo at 7:11 PM on May 15, 2004

Why it's 2896 posts into that thread, of course:
Rhig came out of the closet to say...
"He paid the fee and there was a lot of rustling, he was opening one of the boxes, there was more angry raised voices and the barber said something like "is it broken etc", the guy said something like its wrong/mistake I don't think he really understood the joke right away. There was more raised voices but not real arguing, the guy didn’t suspect the barber of anything and didn’t as far as I know explain what happen to him. Probably to keep his post office box if the barbers not in on it."
posted by holloway at 8:21 PM on May 15, 2004

The site: HTML #1, #2, #3
The story: In HTML, PDF #1, #2, #3

Cafepress: Jean Climax Merchandise
posted by holloway at 8:31 PM on May 15, 2004

Made it to Slashdot.

(Google lists 373 sites with the term P-P-P-Powerbook, some just because they're showing Mefi's RSS feed. Doesn't appear that Google has caught up with Slashdot's news yet.)
posted by holloway at 1:50 PM on May 16, 2004

A mirror of some of the more interesting photos.

There's some misunderstanding about who the photos circulating are of (slashdot comments saying the guy with the hat during the second delivery is the scammer, which they aren't). So far as I know there are no photos of the scammer, or the package once delivered. There are blurry photos of the barber, but they're not enough to identify the guy. There were people in the barbershop but they didn't get a clear photo of the people involved.

(Google now lists 1130 sites with the term)
posted by holloway at 12:53 AM on May 17, 2004

P-P-P-Powerbook store

(Google lists 2130)
posted by holloway at 10:16 PM on May 17, 2004

The scammer might have responded but it's a virus generated email, so either the scammer is trying to infect Jeff's machine, or the scammer's machine has been infected and he's passively attacking Jeff, or someone else is forging emails and hoping to infect Jeff. The first email comes from an IP address in London, and the second has the same h-2.properhosting.com smtp server that the scammer used earlier.
Received: from [] (helo=paul-rlmc0c0snw.net)
by h-2.properhosting.com with smtp (Exim 4.24; FreeBSD 4.8)
id 1BPmqw-0005E1-Th
for mynameisjeff@bootsix.net; Mon, 17 May 2004 14:28:43 -0400
From: scont06@yahoo.com [mailto:scont06@yahoo.com]
Sent: Monday, May 17, 2004 12:29 PM
To: mynameisjeff@bootsix.net
Subject: Re: Thank you!

See attach.

For security purposes the attached file is password protected. Password -- 27735
and the next one
Return-path: <scont06@yahoo.com>
Envelope-to: mynameisjeff@bootsix.net
Delivery-date: Mon, 17 May 2004 19:02:40 -0400
Received: from [] (helo=8103g) by h-2.properhosting.com with smtp (Exim 4.24; FreeBSD 4.8) id 1BPr82-0008D0-VJ for mynameisjeff@bootsix.net; Mon, 17 May 2004 19:02:39 -0400
Date: Mon, 17 May 2004 19:04:04 -0500
To: mynameisjeff@bootsix.net
Subject: E-mail account disabling warning.
From: support@bootsix.net
Message-ID: <rkfhawahmfqmluaeaiy@bootsix.net>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/mixed;
From: support@bootsix.net [mailto:support@bootsix.net]
Sent: Monday, May 17, 2004 5:04 PM
To: mynameisjeff@bootsix.net
Subject: E-mail account disabling warning.

Dear user of Bootsix.net,

Our antivirus software has detected a large ammount of viruses outgoing
from your email account, you may use our free anti-virus tool to clean up
your computer software.

Pay attention on attached file.

Attached file protected with the password for security reasons. Password is 03581.

The Management,
The Bootsix.net team http://www.bootsix.net
posted by holloway at 2:52 PM on May 18, 2004

P-P-P-Powerbook.com is back with updates after running out of bandwidth for a few days and then suffering a DDoS attack (syn flood).

P-P-P-Powerbook.com has used 40G of traffic in the last week and other mirrors with counters have have had 1 million visits. The original Something Awful thread has had 2.3 million views (half of those in the last two days).

posted by holloway at 10:29 PM on May 19, 2004

P-P-P-Powerbook.com is now moving over to EasyNetworkNYC but the DNS is slow to move. There hasn't been any further talk of it on SA so I think we can assume this story is dead.

Google now has 27,500 results
posted by holloway at 5:16 PM on May 24, 2004

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