spidey senses went on full alert. Let me fill you in on what happened.
Hubs and I sell antiques online. Last week I received an email from a guy, let's call him "Joe". Joe was interested in one of my vintage oil cans and wrote to say he wanted to buy it. The usual course of action is that I reply to his email, he offers a lower price than I'm asking and we begin the bartering stage of antique buying and selling.
But Joe asked me to phone him rather than reply to his email as he was "too busy to answer emails". Hmmm... spidey sense starting to tingle! Yes I'm the suspicious type. It seemed odd to me but I mentally shrugged and made the call. It went to voicemail where a man with a thick accent provided the name of a business and the usual pleasantries about returning calls.
I left a message and gave (somewhat reluctantly) my phone number for contact. It didn't take long for Joe to respond. He had the same thick accent as the voice mail so I figured he was the business owner. he was very nice, very pleasant, very talkative. In fact, he was overly nice, overly polite... kind of an Eddie Haskell kind of thing. My spidey senses were really strong now! But I kept chastising myself for being too suspicious.
Joe then sent my spidey senses even higher by remarking that he didn't care how much it cost for the oil can, he just wanted it. That was odd. Very odd. He didn't make a lower offer as expected. And he wanted it sent courier so it would reach him before Christmas.
I informed him I would package up the handle and investigate courier costs on Monday then I'd let him know. "Okay" was his answer, "and then you give me your bank account number so I can deposit the money into your account"
Whoa!! Full alert for my spidey senses! In this day and age of Paypal and interac e-transfers why would someone choose a more cumbersome method of transferring money?
So I told Joe I prefer Paypal or interac transfer and his immediate response was "Oh no I just go to my bank and put the money straight into your account" And then in the brilliance of con men, he added "Of course I count on you sending me the oil can and not cheating me" Wow. That's brilliant because of course I should immediately defend my honesty and assure him that I'm above board.
And I did. I fell for that part. Knowing he'd sucked me in he engaged me in small talk. He used my name frequently throughout "So Lorine tell me how you got interested in oil cans" and "Lorine, do you have any other oil cans for sale" Yep, you guessed it - I began thinking of how great it would be if I could sell more of my oil cans to him and started my sales pitch. Good psychological ploy - use the mark's first name frequently, makes them think you're their buddy.
It ended up with him saying that for sure he wanted the two for which I had photos and he wanted me to dig out all the rest and take pictures to send him as he probably would buy them all. He'd pay whatever I wanted plus courier costs, all I had to do was give him my bank account number so he could deposit that money. Now in case you think I'm talking 20 bucks, let's just say that these particular oil cans don't come cheap. Together the two in question would be $175.00 plus shipping
My suspicions were definitely aroused but I started to question myself. Was I suspicious because he had an accent? Maybe I was being very unfair and horror of horrors, was I doing some ethnic profiling? I was pretty sure that wasn't the case, that's not my nature, but I only had a few odd things causing me to feel so uneasy. I started feeling very guilty about being suspicious of him!
But the thought of giving my bank account number to a complete stranger filled me with unease. And so I sat down and went over the spidey sense alerts I'd gotten since first talking to Joe. Mentally shaking myself for letting this guy suck me into doubting myself, I wrote to him the next day with a total cost for the two oilers plus shipping expenses. I added that I could send him an invoice and he could pay via Paypal, by interac e-transfer, by cheque or by money order.
Guess what? I never heard from Joe again.
I found out later from my bank that theoretically a person should not be able to withdraw funds from your account BUT if he were charming (he was), talkative (he was), polite (yep), and believable he could possibly fool a teller into believing he'd had his ID stolen (or whatever) and withdraw funds from my account. My bank does not recommend giving your name and bank number to anyone other than family (assuming you trust them!)
I had two reasons for talking about this today. One was to
urge readers to never doubt your own gut instincts! If something is
making your spidey senses tingle, step back and think about the
situation. And you can apply this to genealogy research too. If you find
a record and you have a sudden thought or suspicion (good or bad) about
it, step back, take your time and think about it.
And if you've read this far and you're curious about an old oil can costing so much money, take a peek. They can be quite beautiful! This Kaye oiler is my favourite. But this Lucas oiler is the creme de la creme, considered the Rolls Royce of oilers even dinted as mine is. And hey, if anyone wants to buy them, cool -- just don't ask me for my bank account number okay?