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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Buy It Later: A Short Story - Part 2

Here's the much anticipated part two of our adventures. Enjoy!
5 short minutes after she sent her inquiry to eBay, they replied to my wife confirming her “women’s intuition” by saying this message had not come from them and we should not follow the instructions to wire the money into an account.

She contacted US Bank, but they said that they couldn’t do anything for us because once the money was wired, it was gone. They gave us the information for the bank where the money had been sent and wished us good luck. If we had that kind of luck, we'd be in Vegas, not stressing about this.

A call to Trustmark National Bank in Jackson, Mississippi led us to the manager of the fraud department, who after hearing my wife’s explanation and near panicked tone, said if the money was still in that account she could freeze it until things got sorted out. However, she couldn’t confirm for us if the money was there or not. She also couldn’t tell us if she was able to freeze the account because that would indicate that the money was there and she couldn’t divulge that information. She suggested we file a police report.

My phone vibrated again and I flipped it open waiting to hear what was going on. I said I’d file the police report and got the number for the police. I left a voice mail with a detective in the financial fraud department of the CSPD but wasn’t satisfied so I called back. After speaking with the lady who answered the phone, she agreed to send an officer out to take the report. I called home and said I was on my way. I wanted to be there. I had to be there.

The drive home might have taken forever, but was made bearable by the detective calling me back. I reviewed what we knew so far in hopes of triggering a response that might lead to an easy solution, but all he could tell me was to file the police report and if the officer taking the report was at all hesitant, let him know that I spoke with the detective and he said a report should be filed. I asked what he thought our chances were of getting our money back. After rewording the question a couple of times so I wouldn’t be able pin him with liability if we didn’t get the money back he thought our chances were less than 10%.

I got home and found my wife stressed to the point of fracture. I hugged her and the stress broke as she cried in my arms. I reassured her that money can be saved again and we still had our family so everything would be fine no matter what happened. I'm not sure it helped much, but it got me a few brownie points for being a sensative husband. Expensive points if we lost the money, so I made a mental note not to screw something up later and burn them before I could spend them.

The officer arrived shortly after, and we retold the story again and provided him with copies of the email correspondence we’d had with the seller / con artist. Thankfully he didn’t give any resistance to filing a report, but he didn’t give us any better chances than the detective did. “About 10%.”

Later that evening, we put our heads together and started tracing down leads since we weren’t sure the police would be much help beyond filing a report. We started by calling the bank in Mississippi again to see if by chance they were working late. They weren’t, so after hearing “Leave a Message” I gave my best victim voice to the machine and began hoping she would get in early.

Next we looked up the seller’s account that came with the spoofed eBay email, and did a quick search to find previous auctions they’d been involved in.

I still find it amazing that someone would put their phone number on eBay.

The anxiety was building as I was contemplating what I was going to say to the person who answered the phone. How would I get them to divulge that they were a con artist, or that they knew nothing about what had happened and doing all of this without tipping my hand that I suspected them to be a criminal?

I dialed the phone, still unsure about what I would say.

A lady’s voice, “Hello”

“Is Williaim there?”


Was the game of deceit on, or was her question honest?
Come back tomorrow for the exciting conclusion of "Buy It Later".