[Update] If you have been scammed then you might want to read my newer post So you have been scammed to learn how to fight back and find your scammer like I did. Good luck!
In 2012 I won the Solar winds sysadmin contest with a funny story from my first job. I won a 500$ Apple store gift card and they even immortalized my story in a small comic strip:
Comic strip about sysadmin contest story
Since then I have repeatedly tried to use or sell them but since I’m not currently living in the US it wasn’t possible for me.
My last attempt to sell them was via reddit.
I know there are a lot of scammers out there
So I thought Bitcoin would be the right choice since the scammer can’t just reclaim their money after I gave them the card codes.
I talked a bit with a few potential buyers but some didn’t respond after a time or didn’t want to pay more than 50% of what the cards were worth.
The scammers first contact
came via reddit. His usernames are changed for reasons you’ll find out later.
Since I had nothing to hide I gave them my real identity to build trust.
Still selling the $500 Apple giftcard? Is it apple store or Itunes? I can do $380 BTC for it. Pm me back with info.
yes still selling It’s apple Store (US only)
6066 XXXX XXXX 2453
6066 XXXX XXXX 2012
You can call 1-800-MY-APPLE to verify the 250$.
To verify my identity:
Go to this WIRED article
Follow the first link “wrote a script that analyzed 443 open proxies” it goes to my blog
Go to “About me” -> “my usernames on the web”
If you are happy with the values you can send me the 0.6400BTC to the Address listed on my blog under every post: 1ChrisHMgr4DvEVXzAv1vamkviZNLPS7yx
After confirmation I’ll send you the PINs
I am not interested in going first as I have done a good amount of trades in different sub reddits and I have over 150+ feedbacks on eBay. For all I know you can be someone who brought this reddit account (just a scenario). In either case I am not willing to go first and I have feedback to back me up.
This didn’t strike me as odd since everyone who has traded on the internet knows that scammers exist and I might be one of them. But I still wasn’t convinced that he is a valid trader. He may have bought the ebay account, which I told him and he responded with:
You can’t buy ebay accounts and keep it. They check everything from address to geo ip location and if something changes they lock you out. I am the owner of my eBay account and I can pm you on there to confirm it.
He wrote me on ebay
Message from the scammer
and fair enough he has good cred on ebay
ebay user account of scammer
I tried to sell these cards for 4 years. F*ck it, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt
here are the pins:
-Card ending with “2012” PIN: XXXXXXX
-Card ending with “2453” PIN: XXXXXXX
Awaiting 0.6400BTC on Address 1ChrisHMgr4DvEVXzAv1vamkviZNLPS7yx
He then wanted me to ship the cards to him because he said he wanted to use the cards in a store where you need the physical cards. He gave me a fake address and I sent the cards along the way.
Thank god I sent him pictures of the cards!
Pictures of the cards
As I prepared the cards to ship them to him I sent him photos I uploaded via my open source image hosting service: PictShare. This fact is very important later on.
I also sent him the tracking code. Look, it’s still on its way to the fake address: https://www.post.at/en/track_trace.php/details?pnum1=RS316003643AT
UPDATE September 27th ’16
The cards have been returned to me after 2 months. The scammer told me he used a random address generator and I stupidly sent it to him without checking.
got the cards back
I checked my bitcoin wallet every day and a few days later I checked reddit again only to find..
he deleted his account
He deleted his account.
I now knew without a doubt he was a scammer and the first thing I did was to write him on ebay. Still trying to be nice, still trying to get the money.
It’s geek_at from reddit. I see you have deleted your reddit account. Is the deal still on?
Have you ordered the products yet?
Excuse me, but who are you? I don’t use this account except when I occasionally buy items.
my ebay was hacked recently along with my email because I was keylogged. The hacked then proceeded to access my bank paypal and ebay. So no. I won’t send you money for someone else hacking you but I do feel sorry for you.
nice try -firstname-, you have 4 days until I press charges
Please do. I will take you to court for defamation and false accusation. I am a college graduate with a law degree and you are just trying to use baseless threat and accusation. When clearly I have not contacted you and have no idea what you are talking about. You randomly message me about deals and products when this is ebay and you have listed nothing that I have bought or bid on. If you try to keep contacting me and continue to pester me further with threats I will contact my local police office as you have looked up my information and have been baselessly accusing me.
Scammer confirmed. I knew his account wasn’t hacked because after a little google search I found a direct link between the two nick names he used on reddit and ebay because he has used both of them on Steam.
He also changed his nickname on ebay right after this message.
Scammer changed name on ebay
His first major mistake: Looking for a job
Thanks to usersearch.org I found many sites where he re-used the nickname from ebay. One of them was a freelancer job website.
Job website of the scammer
By now I knew:
His first name
The first letter of his last name
The city location matched the one on ebay
His IP address from opening the image I sent him (also confirmed his location)
His second major mistake: Having friends
On facebook I just entered the username he was using on ebay and I found a post from someone with an anime profile pic, linking the user name of the scammer in a post
Sure enough it was only text and not a link to a facebook profile.
The post had one like but..
post like info on facebook
Damn you, facebook privacy settings!!!
But this friend of the scammer had posted everything public. Hundreds of posts a month. I scrolled through 4 years of posts until I found something that I now reffer to as the holy grail.
scammers friends facebook post
He made a screenshot of some LoL game he played and had facebook open in the background. You could see all of his online friends.
One of them was the scammer! So now I knew his full name.
His third major mistake: Having a family
10 minutes later I had the facebook profiles of his whole family. Brother, father, mother, cousins.
I found multiple photos of him on his mothers profile I thought I’ll save them if I need to go to the police.
I added his older brother who is in college and wrote him and his mom this nice message:
Message to scammers brother
I was basically telling him about his brother scamming people and that I didn’t want to go the police because it would ruin his whole life and so on.
The brother-bomb hit hard
About 10 minutes after his brother read the message I got this message on reddit from a new user:
This is ungustly from before. I am sorry for what I did. I am young and stupid and always in a really bad place. I ama full time student and I have no job. I contacted Apple and got a giftcard back. I can. Give you your giftcard back I have a card for $477 and one of the existing card you gave me should have the remaining balance. Please leave me alone after this I won’t do anything like this anymore I am having panic of attacks just thinking about this.
I do not have the bitcoins if I did I would have sent it to you already. I have literally 0 money and as a full time college student I have no savings please I beg you to understand
I have had a handful of anxiety attacks in the past few days over this issue and I am extremely scared. All I want is to leave me alone I know what I did was wrong please I beg you to forgive me
I will never do anything like this again. I have 6 classes and I am a full time student I can’t even go to work to pay you back. I would immediately pay I back if I could but I am broke and living on cheap fast-food. Please I beg you to forgive me and accept the card I returned I am very sorry I did this to you.
Wow he really seems to be scared. He wanted to give my my cards back but I tried for years to get rid of them so I say he can sell them and give me the BTC. Which he did and our deal was finally forfilled.
I said I won’t go to the police but if I ever catch him scamming people I’d drop everything I have about him.
Again I am so sorry and thank you. Can I also ask you to delete all contact with my family and friends you contacted my brother and he is freaked out. Can you please delete or make something up before my mother sees the message you wrote her and avoid further contact with my brother and delete him. Please and thank you
Your privacy settings on facebook are only as good as your friends’
Don’t re-use usernames on the web (cred is your enemy)
Use an escrow service like Transpact if you want to make trades via bitcoin