21 December

Holy crap, it’s been three weeks since my last post! Christmas is five days away and the shopping is done, more or less, with some odds and ends still to come to fill in the gaps. I’m once again at a loss as to what I should get Rory. Yes, I already have a giftie bought and waiting to be wrapped, but it’s his stocking that always stumps me. I usually fall back on the old (BORING) standbys – cigars, small bar ware, socks, maybe a couple itty bitty bottles of alcohol that he hasn’t tried before, but I want to do something different for a change and I have no earthly clue. I have one idea that may be golden but I’ll have to locate said item in a store because I’ve missed my window for online shopping unless I want to pay through the nose for rush delivery. Nope.

I had the. Most. Unpleasant. Experience this week, attempting to sell an item online for a friend of mine. I’ve never advertised or bought anything on Craigslist before but thought that it might be a good forum for getting rid of a lightly used hammer dulcimer. What could possibly go wrong?

Everything, as it turned out.

I was contacted by a guy who turned out to be a scam artist. I had listed the dulcimer for $400 and this jerk-wad sent me a check for $2500, which right there should have been a screaming red flag. I was instructed via text that I was to keep $450 and pay the rest to a moving company that would come to pick up the instrument. (The story was that this “moving company” was personally owned by the prospective buyer and would also be picking up other items in my general area. This was just plausible enough that I believed it. Honestly, I was too focused on getting rid of the stupid dulcimer to pay much attention to the increasingly fishy smell emanating from this transaction.) I went ahead and deposited the check and wondered why the buyer seemed so concerned about closing the deal in such a hurry. The morning after the deposit I was instructed, again via text, that I should obtain a money order for $1900 and leave the “Pay to the Order of” line blank. I would take $60 to pay FedEx and keep the remaining $40 for myself. This was on the same day that I had to go into San Antonio for another IV infusion, labs and doctor’s consult. I told this yahoo (via text) that I would do my best to get the money order that afternoon but couldn’t make any promises. This is when things got REALLY strange. This guy got positively demanding, insisting that I go take care of it NOW. After my appointment I went to three places in town, two of which were Western Union affiliates, and couldn’t get a money order anywhere and at this point it was already too late to make the 6pm late FedEx pick-up anyway. This is when my cell rang. It was the guy, speaking in a very thick accent (Eastern European? Middle Eastern? Possibly Russian-Armenian?). I told him I was on my last try (Walgreens) and hung up. The Walgreens photo counter also offered some Western Union services and I ended up chatting with the woman at the counter for a few minutes. I offered an abbreviated version of my Adventures in Craigslist and she and her co-worker both said that they were pretty sure that I was being scammed. This, combined with something Rory had said earlier in the day, finally convinced me that this whole thing was a really bad idea. I was on my way back to my car, determined now to call off the deal, when Sparky tried calling again. I didn’t pick up and he texted, sounding increasingly anxious and irate. I texted back, telling him that the deal was off, I was going home, and I wanted nothing more to do with him or his filthy money. Once home, Rory contacted the local police department, reported the whole story, and we were told that we had had a VERY close call. The check I’d deposited the day before would most likely be declined in the next couple of days and that if I had succeeded in obtaining and mailing that money order, we would have been on the hook for all that cash. I phoned our bank the next morning and explained the issue with the deposited check. I returned all of the cash that I had withdrawn against said check. Lesson learned.

I want nothing more to do with that stupid hammer dulcimer and emailed my friend to tell her so, albeit in a slightly less confrontational tone. She’ll have to deal with it now because I’m done!