Someone tried to scam me today. What scam was it?

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#1 Posted by MirkoS77 (14122 posts) -

Was walking at the mall tonight when this scrawny skabby blond chick in her twenties approached me and asked if I’d be willing to let her purchase something on my credit or debit card if she gave me cash in return. She told me what she intended to buy but I can’t recall what it was (didn’t seem too suspicious at the time, it was at a nearby store).

Initially I agreed, then she got out her phone and immediately began texting someone. This felt sketchy as hell so after a few seconds I changed my mind and told her, “Sorry, no” and walked off. She didn’t persist or argue at all, but quickly moved on.

I’m certain this was a scam, but I’ve not heard of one where cash is given to someone who would buy something on their card, especially in a store. Anyone know what this was, and if so, how does it work? Perhaps she was using counterfeit? (I didn’t get to see the money).

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#2 Posted by jun_aka_pekto (25244 posts) -

If it sounds suspicious, it probably is.

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#3 Posted by Mandzilla (4084 posts) -

Why couldn't she just pay for the thing she wanted herself with the cash? At the same time, if you're the one using your card to buy something for her then I don't really see how that could be a scam. How odd.

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#4 Posted by Pcmasterrace69 (372 posts) -

She got cash. Maybe fake cash

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#5 Posted by npiet1 (2231 posts) -

Yeah sounds like counterfeit money. Otherwise they would of paid cash.

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#6 Edited by MrGeezer (59765 posts) -

"Was walking at the mall tonight when this scrawny skabby blond chick in her twenties approached me and asked if I’d be willing to let her purchase something on my credit or debit card if she gave me cash in return."

I personally wouldn't have agreed to that in the first place. Never mind her changing her texting someone about your reaction. If she's got the cash to pay for it, then why the hell wouldn't she just buy it herself?

Let's have some fun thinking of the possibilities.

1) She got banned for the store, and wanted the item. Not sure if that's the case though, because then why would she care about you using a credit/debit card? You paying cash would have been equally as good, right? That leads me to...

2) You agreeing meant that you had a credit/debit card on you. It'd be hard to flat-out mug you and steal your card and still be able to use it since you'd immediately cancel your card afterwards and then they'd likely be able to be traced trying to use your card after they stole it. But they COULD get you to use your card to buy something with monetary value that they could re-sell. They could then try to get you into a more secret location in order to give you the cash, and use that as an opportunity to mug you and steal the item that you bought with your card. But again...why not just ask you to buy it by card OR cash? Getting you to buy the item first could prevent them from getting you alone and mugging you only to find out that you have a card that they can't use. But once you bought the item, it shouldn't matter how you paid for it.

Anyone else have any ideas?

But yeah, something was going on here just from the initial request. I don't suppose you asked her why she didn't just buy the item herself if she actually had the cash to pay for it?

I think that counterfeit bills would probably be the most likely explanation. In any case, if she was actually able and willing to pay for the item, and actually had legitimate cash, then there's zero legitimate reason why she'd be asking someone to buy it for her instead of just buying it herself. I know you didn't recall the item that she asked you to buy, but did it seem like something with a high ticket price?

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#7 Posted by DaVillain- (36452 posts) -

My instincts would tell me to not even get into that situation and never ever use your Credit Card for anyone, not even to strangers.

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#8 Posted by mrbojangles25 (43916 posts) -

Just reading that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Ugh.

Yeah, I'd have told her "no" right off the bat.

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#9 Edited by Treflis (13636 posts) -

If they had money enough to pay you back for the goods they were going to purchase then why on earth would they need your credit card?

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#10 Posted by killerfist (20121 posts) -

Indeed a weird question to ask. If she had the cash, she could have just bought it herself. If she had any on her to pay you back, it was probably counterfeit.

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#11 Edited by zeroyaoi (2472 posts) -

@Treflis: Exactly. That sounds like the worst scam ever.

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#12 Posted by Jacanuk (18429 posts) -

@MirkoS77 said:

Was walking at the mall tonight when this scrawny skabby blond chick in her twenties approached me and asked if I’d be willing to let her purchase something on my credit or debit card if she gave me cash in return. She told me what she intended to buy but I can’t recall what it was (didn’t seem too suspicious at the time, it was at a nearby store).

Initially I agreed, then she got out her phone and immediately began texting someone. This felt sketchy as hell so after a few seconds I changed my mind and told her, “Sorry, no” and walked off. She didn’t persist or argue at all, but quickly moved on.

I’m certain this was a scam, but I’ve not heard of one where cash is given to someone who would buy something on their card, especially in a store. Anyone know what this was, and if so, how does it work? Perhaps she was using counterfeit? (I didn’t get to see the money).

Hmm, strange scam

If you know she had the cash, it seems like some kind of card scam where they get you to buy something with your card and use your pin. Or as mentioned it´s counterfeit cash.

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#13 Edited by MirkoS77 (14122 posts) -
@MrGeezer said:

"Was walking at the mall tonight when this scrawny skabby blond chick in her twenties approached me and asked if I’d be willing to let her purchase something on my credit or debit card if she gave me cash in return."

I personally wouldn't have agreed to that in the first place. Never mind her changing her texting someone about your reaction. If she's got the cash to pay for it, then why the hell wouldn't she just buy it herself?

Let's have some fun thinking of the possibilities.

1) She got banned for the store, and wanted the item. Not sure if that's the case though, because then why would she care about you using a credit/debit card? You paying cash would have been equally as good, right? That leads me to...

2) You agreeing meant that you had a credit/debit card on you. It'd be hard to flat-out mug you and steal your card and still be able to use it since you'd immediately cancel your card afterwards and then they'd likely be able to be traced trying to use your card after they stole it. But they COULD get you to use your card to buy something with monetary value that they could re-sell. They could then try to get you into a more secret location in order to give you the cash, and use that as an opportunity to mug you and steal the item that you bought with your card. But again...why not just ask you to buy it by card OR cash? Getting you to buy the item first could prevent them from getting you alone and mugging you only to find out that you have a card that they can't use. But once you bought the item, it shouldn't matter how you paid for it.

Anyone else have any ideas?

But yeah, something was going on here just from the initial request. I don't suppose you asked her why she didn't just buy the item herself if she actually had the cash to pay for it?

I think that counterfeit bills would probably be the most likely explanation. In any case, if she was actually able and willing to pay for the item, and actually had legitimate cash, then there's zero legitimate reason why she'd be asking someone to buy it for her instead of just buying it herself. I know you didn't recall the item that she asked you to buy, but did it seem like something with a high ticket price?

It wasn't cheap, no. I can't remember what it was but it didn't arouse any suspicion in me at the time.

The reason I initially agreed was because I was a bit surprised by her request, plus the fact she offered cash upfront. On quick consideration I thought, "Ok, cash is fairly safe, what's the danger if I don't separate myself from my cc?" It was when she took out her phone and started to text someone after she'd just told me it was at a nearby store that I grew uneasy. I wasn't about to give her or punch in my cc details into her phone which looked like what she was expecting.

It was that and also that this girl looked like the poster child of meth head drug warning ads. Pretty much guaranteed that she was a druggie. It was only after I got to take a good look at her when she was texting, and the fact that she was texting (plus fears of counterfeit), that I walked off. Had she been a bit more up kept, I very well may have gone along with her. I should've asked to see the money.

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#15 Posted by JustPlainLucas (79311 posts) -

Yeah, I'm going to say it was either a set up to see if you actually had a CC on you and you were going to be mugged, or she had counterfeit cash.

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#16 Posted by MrGeezer (59765 posts) -

@MirkoS77: In any case, I'm having a hard time coming up with a GOOD scam here. Like, I'm thinking of several POSSIBLE scams, but all of them are kind of stupid because they have a big glaring flaw.

So...maybe it was just a stupid scam? Like, maybe she was the kind of dumb-ass criminal who would mug a guy for his credit card and then quickly get arrested after trying to use that card because you immediately called the police and your credit card company after you got mugged. Which, considering that you're saying she looked like a junkie, could very well be the case.

I tend to tell people that crime isn't worth it since even GOOD criminals usually get caught if they do it long enough. And of course the people who are good at it tend to keep on doing it. But let's not forget that a lot of criminals are NOT good criminals. It's actually probably more likely that the majority of criminals are actually dumb-asses who suck at crime. I think there's a very good chance that this was some kind of scam because what you've described is sketchy as hell. But whatever kind of scam it was, there's a good chance that it was a really dumb one.

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#17 Posted by mattbbpl (17103 posts) -

Another possibility is that you were nearly an unwitting money mule which is fairly common.

The way it works is that the criminal transfers illicit funds through an intermediary transaction that's difficult to trace back to them. In this case, the girl could have had you pay for the item with your CC, give you the illicit cash in exchange for the item and receipt, then either return (preferable) or sell (if returning isn't an option) the item to get squeaky clean cash in her pocket.

My coworker was one of these for a while - he told me how he had a sweet gig because a girl he'd met gave him a 10% kickback every week to convert $1,000 cash to bitcoin through his bitcoin wallet. He was fine with this arrangement until I told him he was criminally liable as a money mule, LOL. My company also regularly has big time crooks try to use us as a money mule for tens of millions of dollars at a time by buying barges full of goods that they then sell at the next port (we deal in commodities, so sales from port to port are common).

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#18 Posted by foxhound_fox (97891 posts) -

Most likely counterfeit bills or money laundering. Could also be a scam with an employee to take your card info.

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#19 Posted by Solaryellow (4834 posts) -

@MirkoS77 said:

Was walking at the mall tonight when this scrawny skabby blond chick in her twenties approached me and asked if I’d be willing to let her purchase something on my credit or debit card if she gave me cash in return. She told me what she intended to buy but I can’t recall what it was (didn’t seem too suspicious at the time, it was at a nearby store).

Initially I agreed, then she got out her phone and immediately began texting someone. This felt sketchy as hell so after a few seconds I changed my mind and told her, “Sorry, no” and walked off. She didn’t persist or argue at all, but quickly moved on.

I’m certain this was a scam, but I’ve not heard of one where cash is given to someone who would buy something on their card, especially in a store. Anyone know what this was, and if so, how does it work? Perhaps she was using counterfeit? (I didn’t get to see the money).

Money was fake. She was going to have you purchase it and then expect the receipt at which time (later time actually) she'd return it and get a credit (since she didn't have your C.C.) or even get cash depending on the store.

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#20 Edited by Byshop (19566 posts) -

Counterfeit bills is the obvious one here but faking currency in an even remotely convincing fashion is actually pretty tricky so I don't know if it's the most likely unless they are really bad scammers. Money laundering or other similar schemes were mentioned but you don't need to do this to buy something from a store. You only need to launder cash to give it the appearance of having been obtained legitimately if you're going to use it to do something that creates a paper trail, like paying your bills/rent. If you keep paying for things like that with cash that has no apparent source, then the IRS will get interested in where you got it and if it's illegal or unreported.

What's possible is after you purchased the item and exchanged it for cash payment, the plan might have been to bring the item back to the store with the receipt and exchange it for a higher priced item, charging the difference to your card. Generally stores shouldn't do this unless you present the original card but she might have had someone at the store who was in on it.

-Byshop

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#21 Posted by GTR12 (13468 posts) -

@Byshop said:

What's possible is after you purchased the item and exchanged it for cash payment, the plan might have been to bring the item back to the store with the receipt and exchange it for a higher priced item, charging the difference to your card. Generally stores shouldn't do this unless you present the original card but she might have had someone at the store who was in on it.

-Byshop

^^^ That's the scam.

2nd scam is checkout person is an accomplice and they use a card skimmer to steal details.

3rd option, more unlikely, the person is underage and they want something they cant buy.

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#22 Posted by So_Carrieous (44 posts) -

Omg a male friend of mine put an entire scam crew in checkmate. Well I’ll be fair, not sure whether or not it’s a scam crew, but he positioned himself so that no scam can happen just to be safe. He checkmated them so bad I would like to go into details but can’t.

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#23 Posted by omegaMaster (1263 posts) -

It's a scam. The stranger would not give you money back or give you fake money. You made the safest and right choice.

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#24 Posted by MirkoS77 (14122 posts) -
@GTR12 said:
@Byshop said:

What's possible is after you purchased the item and exchanged it for cash payment, the plan might have been to bring the item back to the store with the receipt and exchange it for a higher priced item, charging the difference to your card. Generally stores shouldn't do this unless you present the original card but she might have had someone at the store who was in on it.

-Byshop

^^^ That's the scam.

2nd scam is checkout person is an accomplice and they use a card skimmer to steal details.

3rd option, more unlikely, the person is underage and they want something they cant buy.

Yea, that sounds like the most sensible to me as well. I'm glad I walked away, always trust your instincts. Whew.

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#25 Edited by Gaming-Planet (19941 posts) -

She was about to put your card on the black market for some crypto. Kidding, but we don't know for sure. Most of us here aren't scammers that follow the latest scamming trends.

Don't ever hand someone your ID, credit cards, or whatever that has personal and sensitive information on it, even if it seems harmless. There are people that will do social engineering on you and take your shit.

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#26 Posted by Byshop (19566 posts) -

@MirkoS77 said:
@GTR12 said:
@Byshop said:

What's possible is after you purchased the item and exchanged it for cash payment, the plan might have been to bring the item back to the store with the receipt and exchange it for a higher priced item, charging the difference to your card. Generally stores shouldn't do this unless you present the original card but she might have had someone at the store who was in on it.

-Byshop

^^^ That's the scam.

2nd scam is checkout person is an accomplice and they use a card skimmer to steal details.

3rd option, more unlikely, the person is underage and they want something they cant buy.

Yea, that sounds like the most sensible to me as well. I'm glad I walked away, always trust your instincts. Whew.

Yeah, scams work because the scammer sets up a situation that on the surface isn't immediately obvious as being problematic. Fake case is the obvious thing that anyone would look for, and making convincing fake cash is actually very hard so unless she was a total crackhead who though she could pass off some photocopied bills as legit. This is likely about getting a transaction on a card that's not their own. The particular blend of paper/cotton that's used in US currency is actually illegal to use for literally any other purpose and it's not easy to get your hands on anything that feels much like it.

-Byshop