Too often, unsuspecting people are scammed out hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to someone they met online. The people on the other end of the computer are usually someone with a story to tell and has a reason to get money. Some people fall for it while others ignore it.
One person who said he wasn’t going to be fooled was Fort Lauderdale man Allen Israel. He received a message from someone who appeared to be a pretty woman asking if Israel would forward her money to fly to the United States.
“That’s when I knew right there it was a scam,” he said.
Knowing it was a scam, Israel played along. He told the woman, who went by Juan, he had a painting worth $55,000 he would send her. The catch? The person on the other end would pay the shipping and handling. Israel wanted to scam the scammer operating in Nigeria, a place the U.S. Postal Service has been before to crack down on this kind of crime.
“I wanted to switch it around,” Israel said. “I wanted to have the scam artist actually pay me the money. He was annoyed at first, but after a while he agreed to send me the money.”
Israel believed he was dealing with a man the entire time, not a woman named Juan. Their conversations lasted three weeks. During most of it Israel tried to convince Juan to pay a $35 postage fee.
First Juan sent a message, full of grammar mistakes, saying: “They can’t send money out from these place, they can only receive, so I don’t know how to send you the $35.”
Then, it was: “I told you I don’t have money on me now all I need you to do now is just trust me and get the stuff send to me if you really want me back home huh, I’m beginning to doubt if you really have feelings for me.”
And finally: “As for the shipping fees am going to send it to you huh, all I need from you now is your info.”
To that, Israel said, “Do I really want a Nigerian scam artist to have my address and the answer was no, so I ended it there.”
But still, Israel called his online exchange a success. He wasn’t scammed and he got the scammer to agree to send him money. Most importantly, he wanted to keep Juan distracted - hoping others wouldn’t be scammed.
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