Scam, Fraud, Hell Burns and Beatles

Yesterday was a one of those days where you hopefully look back and say, "aha! That's why it was the reason for all those knocks."

The day started well but not long after there was a knock at the door. The FedEX guy had a package for me. I was expecting him. I sold three paintings to a person a few days ago and was looking for their check. I signed for the envelope and opened it up...

Earlier in the week when I sold the paintings the person was just slightly off when I communicated with her. They wanted to send the price of the paintings and enough for shipping. The total would be about 650 minus shipping. Usually on my website you simply get notified that a painting is bought and you begin the packaging process once the money gets deposited in the bank. I thought that maybe the person lived overseas or something....

Back to yesterday. I slid the contents of the envelope out, and saw the check, read the amount.

The check was for three-thousand dollars. Way, way more than three times the price. There's a note attached that asks me to respond with further instructions and is signed Management.

That's what I call a red flag.

So since Sam and I don't have internet at our house, we decided to get over to Panera for breakfast since they have that WiFi that everybody's talking about these days. Just as we were arriving Sam was on the phone with her sister while grabbing her laptop. With a slip her MacBook smacked the ground. Bonk. We got inside and her screen wouldn't show anything. Not good.

Somewhat fortunately my laptop works and I get online to do a little research on if anything like this has happened to anyone. I run a cross-check on the several names and addresses attached to the parcel I got and one of the names turns up on a Craigslist check fraud charge. That check I got in the mail is probably bogus.

I also get an email from the person who "bought" the paintings with info for wiring the excess cash to a person in Texas.

I'll tell you how the scam works.

The scam artist talks to a party that sells objects, going around the official buying process with custom shipping instructions. They then send, via signed parcel (mine was FedEX) a totally forged but realistic check. The recipient deposits the check. The bank is required to have the funds available within a certain amount of time regardless of if the check is bad or not. They won't even know about the no fund issue until possibly a few weeks or a month later. The recipient takes the "excess" cash and wires (usually through Western Union) money to an expecting party. Why does this work? The wired money can't be traced after that and there's no duty bound by the wiring company to give you back any money sent under fraudulent pretenses. A few weeks later the bank charges YOU for the bad check and you are out not only the three grand, but the bad check deposit charge. And if you are even unluckier, you've also lost whatever you sent to the party, like three paintings worth nearly 700 dollars. Fortunately my scam detector worked really well early on and I lost nothing more than the hopes that I sold a painting. That's why I don't count those tasty eggs before they've hatched. I looked up the proper agencies to work with this check mail fraud fun and I'll be working with them further as it develops.

So after that lovely breakfast we tried to find a service center to try to fix Sam's laptop. Best Buy was the closest in the limited Ozark radius available, so we made our way there. As we came in there was this guy screaming at the "Geek Squad" that he "brought in a working computer and was leaving with one they BUSTED UP! I'LL NEVER COME HERE AGAIN, etc..."
We were the next in line. Sam brought it in with a service card and gave it to one of the people who looked like a bunch of disheveled guys with neckties around their necks. It took the fellow nearly an hour to figure out what kind of MacBook he had. While none of the previous signs were positive, we really didn't have any other choice to let them tinker with the computer. We should find out about that computer screen in a week. Let's all pray about that.

Some other things happened this week. Just before Sam got back from Connecticut my house ran out of propane. That's not good and I blame myself entirely. The next morning I also found out three things:

1 Apparently my hot water heater is uses the propane tank outside. Ccccold shower.
2 The weather had taken a very cold turn towards the high 30s.
3 It will take more than six days to get your propane refilled when you ask for it. Mine will be on Monday.

So it's been an interesting week. We've got a space heater in our room and our friends have been most kind to let us bathe in warm, wonderful water. In fact it's about time to pay one of them a visit to the shower fairy.

One bright spot in the day was going to the Liverpool Legends Show with Sam and a gang of scoundrels. I'm pretty sure we were the goofiest bunch freaking out to the music but I had great fun and you should go watch it if you ever find the time.

I've only got one more tale of terror. The bright side of any day of the week is that I get to be in Peter Pan as Smee and I always feel lucky to get to do that. The show yesterday was good but pretty exhausting, probably from the day's other stresses. I drove home last night drained. Absolutely drained is one of those states that make you drive about ten miles per house less and I got home even later.

Sambo was doing her part to brighten up my life however. She got to take part in the day with me and knew that tea it the key to relaxing the burdened heart. After I trudged into the house the greeted me fondly with a hug, a kiss, and a cup of tea. The water had just finished boiling so it was fresh and hot. I gratefully took the teacup and went to sit down on the couch, closing my eyes drowsily and feeling the nice warmth in my hands in spite of much surrounding heat in the house around me, thanks to me. I was warm, cozy and slowly relaxing the day away.

Then Schmoopy reminded me that she was alive. She leaped up onto the couch and splashed that tasty, freshly-boiled tea all over my hand.

HOLY HELL and ten other colorful fits of curse screamed through my throat as I recoiled and forced myself to not throw the rest of the tea all over myself. I somehow put the tea on the table and ran around like a knight being attacked at a castle with hot oil. MY HAND MY HAND ARRRRRRgggghhhh!

One thing I learned about a burn is if you run it under water make sure it's warm water. If only I had warm water (besides the tea water)! I gently patted a towel against my hand and tried to think calm thoughts. At least the water that also landed on my crotch didn't do worse. Yea, that's a happy thought! I soon found Aloe Vera mixed with Cucumber moisturizer and I've recovered, save the nice red whelp three inches wide. No boiling blisters so far this morning. I'll keep it moisturized and I'm sure I'll recover, thanks for asking.

That's enough of that day. Like I said, I'm sure some day I'll look back and have some great epiphany about what I learned. Yes. That's it.

Today started well enough. I give it an A on the scale. Let's party.

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