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January 12, 2011

Article I wrote about the near tragic transaction that I could have been duped into had I not been so smart. There's a french horn involved.

For as long as I can remember, my dad has been (at one time or another) trying to sell his old French Horn in every possible venue you and all your friends could ever think of, to absolutely no avail. We live outside of Reading, PA, a musical, educational and cultural black hole, so it never really surprised us that no one wanted it. It's nice, and deserves to spend the rest of its days in a good home full of music appreciators, just not in Reading. Anyway, when I moved to New York, my dad, having the sharp entrepreneurial mind that he does, decided it would be smart to list his French Horn on Craigslist in NYC, opening up the market to hundreds of thousands of new people. Smart guy! Here's a picture of his french horn. It's nice:

Now, a lot of you know my relationship with shady businessmen and women from Nigeria and surrounding countries. Lotta empty promises of huge, life-changing sums of money. Well, it's very possible I'm dealing with another one (though I won't point fingers just yet). We received an e-mail almost immediately regarding the listing:

Now, I should have seen the sign, the blinking light virtually screaming "this guy is no good" right away: the longevity (or lack thereof) of the e-mail. There are only a couple of reasons one might write an e-mail this insultingly brief, only one of which might be okay:

1. The writer is in a hurry (this is usually okay, and what you hope for)

2. The writer knows virtually no english, and has google searched and free translated his way into a simple, coherent english sentence.

3. He's not even a real person.

Giving our friend "Steve Evans" the benefit of the doubt, even though his suspiciously simple first and last names is another sign of a bad transaction looming, we responded to him telling him that it was, and got this in return:

This is where things started taking a turn towards "this guy is going to take everything you own" town. It doesn't take a grammar connoisseur to figure out that english definitely isn't this guy's first language. Now, I understand and respect that there are a variety of languages spoken in this country, which is why we continued to give him the benefit of the doubt, though it wouldn't last long. Beyond the poor english (another calling card of scammers from strange regions of Africa), one sentence stood out to me in this part of the exchange: "I'm on the ship right now."

The problem? There are probably about 700,000 ships registered in this country. Maybe more. I don't know. But he's on the ship. I''m assuming he's trying to convince us that he's a soldier in the Navy. Now, somebody who actually lived in America would understand that, even in the Navy, there is more than one ship you could potentially be on. Steve Evans doesn't seem to understand this, probably because his country does only have one ship. Still giving him the benefit of the doubt (out of either extreme generosity or desperation to finally get rid of this french horn), we followed up, giving him our paypal e-mail to transfer the funds. Things went downhill reallll quick:

Oh boy. Let's try and sort this one out together. Steve, being at sea, obviously isn't able to come pick the French Horn up in Manhattan. A giant Navy ship wouldn't make it very far trying to get to 31st street and 5th ave. Makes sense. So he's working through an agent to try to get the thing delivered to him on "the ship." Guy must really want this French Horn. Should be entertaining for the whole crew, anyway! Now, ignoring the fact that a French Horn would probably never be allowed in the bowels of a Navy ship due to its sheer size and the amount of noise it creates, this all could potentially still be true.

Then, Steve steers himself into a nosedive. He asks for us to give him money. Now, I was a business major in college, so I understand these things, but I think you may be able to get a grasp on this concept as well: I'm pretty sure when you sell things that you own on Craigslist, you're the one that's supposed to be getting money, not your buyer. Steve wants us to wire him $600 dollars so he can pay his agent to get the French Horn sent to the ship. Then, he'll happily send us the $1300 ($700 for the horn and $600 for shipping) via Paypal.

Now, I have a whole lot of trust in the human race. But to just give a man who claims to live on a boat $600 with good faith that he will promptly return it kind of goes beyond the amount of trust it is possible for one human to have in another. Steve, I support the arts just as much as you do. Just not enough to give you $600 on a whim. If you're a real person with real money, buy this French Horn! If you just want me to send you money, I'm $80,000 in debt. There isn't much to give. Have fun on your boat. Or your war torn country. Wherever you are.

This article and more at http://www.YeahHeDid.com!