The biggest items were the old wall oven, microwave, and dishwasher that our contractor had removed when the new (beautiful and stainless steel) items arrived. One Saturday, Brian cleaned them up and on Sunday, I took some pictures and posted the ads on Craig's list.
I don't know how many of you are familiar with Craig's List (Mom, I'm looking at you), but when I first read the instructions, I was like, "Um, why don't they rename this site, "Am I going to die today.com?" Because seriously, I am posting goods on the internet, inviting perfect strangers over to my home, and then exchanging money with them? Really? This sounds like a terrible idea. Why don't we do this during daytime, in a brightly-lit, crowded, neutral meeting spot and use a third party for the transaction? Oh wait, that's called a store...darn it.
I kept imagining it in my head...Oh hi, nice to meet you, Mr. Stranger. That's a very large, unmarked conversion van you have. Why is there mud smeared on the license plates?...Oh, you usually carry rope and a hunting knife with you? That's cool...sure, you can come in while my husband is at work and the baby is sleeping. You want me to turn my back so I can get you a glass of water? No problem, here you --
[conversation cut off as he slowly chokes the life out of me.]
Okay, maybe I'm being a bit dramatic, but I watch Dateline. These things really do happen.
So despite my initial misgivings, I posted the appliances. I hadn't even logged out of the account when someone called about the microwave. Okay, sure, come over tonight. Brian is here, our phone is working, and our neighbors would be able to hear me scream on a quiet Sunday night. The people showed up an hour late but bought the microwave. For cash.
The next day, an allegedly nice woman called about the dishwasher. She and her husband showed up and bought it for cash. And it turns out she really was nice. Double bonus.
And then late on Monday night, I get an email about the oven asking if it's still available. I respond yes, and he writes me back saying he will have his assistant send us the money and then he will arrange for shipping.
My first thought? Who has an assistant? Okay, correction: who has an assistant that wants to buy our crappy stove? If you have an assistant, why don't you just send him to Sears to buy a new, nice stove, since it sounds like you are doing okay money-wise? I mean, you have an assistant and all. I don't have an assistant and you don't see me buying stuff on Craig's List. Maybe a little bit of extrapolating on my part, but it seemed fishy.
Against my instincts, I send the guy our address. (while praying fervently, "Please don't kill me, please don't kill me, please don't kill me.") He responds a few days later and says the check is in the mail. Sweet! Maybe I should turn off A&E's 'The First 48 Hours' and try to get Scotty hooked on Wonder Pets or something.
Then I get another email from him. His assistant "accidentally" sent an over payment. (Crappy assistant, I think.) If it's not too much of a bother, could we please cash the check and then send him the remaining balance?
And then, over the next few days, he continues to email me asking if I've received payment and please, please cash it quickly as he is waiting on that money to pay other bills.
Now alarm bells are ringing in my head. Brian, excited to get the stove out of the garage, tells me I'm paranoid. (The best way to highlight the difference between Brian's and my reactions to matters such as this is best summed up in a situation that happened a few months after we started dating. We were walking down a street by his old apartment with this giant Rottweiler came charging at us. I was halfway up a tree and scanning the area for any kind of weapon while Brian stood there, completely unfazed, pointed at the vicious animal and exclaimed happily, "Puppy!" [the dog was actually tied up so we survived. Thankfully.] True story.) I'm like, maybe I am paranoid. But this is weird. I don't like this guy. And I don't like feeling pressured.
And then, a few days after that, I was weeding the rocks in the back yard (my Zen activity of the month) when it hit me - if we cash this dude's check, deposit it in our account, and then pay him from the same account...we will lose our own money if his check doesn't clear. Bingo! Scammer. Didn't this happen to Farrah on Teen Mom? I don't watch the show but it was in US Weekly. And US Weekly is never wrong.
But then I thought, "What if it's a money order? He has already put the money up in order to buy a money order...that has to be legit, right?" Either way, I decided to run it by our bank and tell them the whole story.
I even wrote back to the guy and said, "Hey, if money is a problem, we can just void whatever you sent us or send it back to you, and you can pay your bills. You can resend us a new check/money order for the correct amount later." He doesn't want to do this. He wants us to cash the payment and send him the balance STAT.
And then the payment actually arrives. Now, despite everything I've written about instincts and following your guy and watching Dateline, I think anyone with a pulse would have given one glance at the white envelope with no return address and the serial killer handwriting on the front and said, "Hey! This doesn't look right!" You don't have to be Chris Hansen to figure this one out.
And by the time I took it to the bank, I had no real illusions that this wasn't a scam. I told the bank teller my story, she called the money order company, and within five minutes verified that all of the orders were fraudulent. Now, I don't know if we would have lost money (our actual money) or if the bank would have lost money if I cashed them, but either way, it's nice to know we stopped a crook in his tracks.
In my overzealous, justice-seeking manner, and with a little too much enthusiasm, I asked the (very young) bank teller if we were going to "nail this guy's ass to the wall!" (I'd like to thank 'Breaking Bad' for planting that kind of language in my brain.) She kind of blinked at me slowly and said, "No...this stuff happens all the time. We are going to refer the matter to our Fraud Dept. and they will handle it from there."
No Feds? No breaking down doors with guns drawn? Scotty and I don't get to be on the other side of a police door during the inevitable hostage situation that would ensue when we found this guy? (Scotty would probably babble into the megaphone, "Ba-ba! Daaaa!" and encite a panic). Do they make bullet-proof vests in a 2T?
I really need to stop watching Dateline.
Anyways, that's my story. Don't cash stuff and send money to people you don't know. Have open, honest conversations with the friendly people at your bank. Follow your instincts.
Oh, and I did email the guy back. This is what I said:
I received your payment yesterday and promptly took the money orders to the bank. I was informed that all three orders were fraudulent and could not be cashed. They have turned the orders over the Fraud Department and will be handling it from there.
Consequently, we will not be selling you the stove.
If you have any questions, please contact Pattie *************** at ****** ******, 702-***-****.
Please do not contact me again.
I seriously contemplated writing, "Game over, bitch!" in true Aaron Paul, 'Breaking Bad' style but refrained.
Perhaps most ironic...a "woman" is coming over today to see the duvet set I posted on Craig's List.
Let's say it all together now...is today the day I die? :-)