Yesterday I was intrigued by a new show on the History Channel called “Scammed”. The premier highlighted how everyday people were targets of criminal schemes, from seemingly innocent “bumps” on the street to elaborate investment schemes. I found it amazing as to what lengths these hooligans will go to rip someone off.
The segment that stood out for me was one about buying an iPad. A young man had responded to an internet ad which offered iPads at a deep discount. He met the “seller” at a sidewalk café. The guy was in business attire and trumped up a story about his company having extra iPads that he needed to sell. He pulled one of the iPads out of its box to show the buyer. He was offering them for $300 each. The buyer jumped at the chance and gave him $300 cash in an envelope. The seller then had an accomplice stop at his table and pretend that she, too, was a buyer. She said she wanted to show the iPad to her boyfriend around the corner before buying, and asked if the seller could come with her. The hoodster told the real buyer to wait for a minute, and to hold onto the remaining iPad and his money until he returned. The buyer waited. The moment turned into minutes.
Perplexed and getting antsy, the buyer opened the iPad box that had been left. What was in it? A piece of tile! Uh oh! He ripped open the envelope. There was no cash, it was papers! The hood had run off with his real cash, and the demo iPad was gone with him, too. Of course, this was a t.v. show that teaches people to avoid scams. The actor came back, returned his money, told him it was a prank, and left the buyer red-faced. He had been “had”! It had sounded too good to be true, and it was!
This reminded me of the time I bought Microsoft Office Professional from Amazon. It normally costs over $400. I paid $150, thinking I was getting a deal. I am a novice at Amazon, and I was stupid. The software was packaged just like new. It had an activation code and it worked. For a few days. Then we started getting notices that the software was going to expire. The messages got more frequent. We called Microsoft. The product was a fake! I had been “had”! It took my computer guy hours to remove the virus. He had never seen such professionally doctored software before. Of course, it had to have happened to me.
Now what do I do? I will pay more for something is genuine. My experience cost me a few hundred dollars. Others have lost thousands more. So, what is the lesson? It’s not just “Something that sounds too good to be true, probably is”. It’s “Sometimes things that are good, cost more.”