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The Great International White Van Speaker Scam

By brettd in News
Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 04:39:07 PM EST
Tags: News (all tags)

An interesting scam has resurfaced in the last few years, taking the world by storm. It is at least a decade old scam, remarkably well organized, bordering on mafia-like proportions. There are many slight variations, but the scam is mostly the same- two guys, in a white truck(hence the name) approach you in a mall or store parking lot. Perhaps at a stop light, or they wave at you frantically as you drive down the highway. "Hey buddy, wanna buy a set of speakers?" Sounds absurd, but all manner of people fall for it all across the world.

The scam works as follows. Two guys, often wearing nice uniforms, possessing realistic looking invoices, business cards, and many of the trappings of a legitimate business, try to sell sets of speakers out of a van; it's white, because those are usually the cheapest to rent. The vans are often unmarked but occasionally have professional-looking graphics on the side which could be nothing more than temporary sticker or magnet signs. They will set up in a mall parking lot, at gas stations, large chain store lots or, alarmingly, ATM/bank parking lots. As stores and police departments catch on, techniques have shifted towards trying to hook people at stop lights or by waving them down on high traffic two-lane roads.

They look for luxury cars or other signs of disposable income. They look for young men, by themselves(especially without girlfriends or wives). They can be extremely aggressive and intimidating. Don't bother with made up excuses, simply say "No". If you say you don't have cash, they'll helpfully offer to follow you to the nearest ATM(why anyone in their right mind would allow themselves to be followed to an ATM is beyond me). If you're about to walk away, they'll get in your face, ask what price you would pay for them(or what your daily withdrawl limit is), and then "cave in" to that price.

The premise is that they are audio system installers; stories usually involve supposed jobs installing home theater systems or sound systems in bars, resteraunts, theaters, or often the local sports arena. They claim someone("the warehouse", for example) or "the computer" messed up and they got "extras". Another popular line is that "speakers are usually sold in pairs, but these are studio speakers!" Even more dubious, they want to unload them "before they get back and the boss finds out"; it is a common theme that they're "just broke hard working guys" and they hate their boss, for the sympathy angle. If nothing else, their willingness to tell a stranger they want to steal company property should raise warning bells all by itself, and remember folks- if the story were true, buying stolen goods is illegal anyway.

The speakers appear to be decently made, in part because most people wouldn't know what to look for in a good speaker if it said "Hello" and bit them, and much of what makes for a good speaker is hidden from view or difficult for the layman to evaluate. Such as:

  • Are wires inside soldered, or using spade connectors?
  • Is there internal dampening materials?
  • Is the cabinet properly sized, reinforced, and made of sufficiently strong material to not excessively resonate?
  • What materials are used in the speaker cone, the surround?
  • Is the crossover(the electronics which seperate high and low frequency sounds for the different sized speaker drivers) properly designed?

Often the company or model names involve common numbers like "5.1", a reference to 5.1 channel surround sound, and the speakers have impressive sounding names that either attempt to coin in on established, respected companies, or essentially made up at random using common audio terminology in an attempt to be generic. A sampling of the many, many names that I have come across on various websites and web forums where people have reported getting scammed or approached:

  • Audiofile
  • Acoustic Monitor
  • Acoustic Response (not to be confused with the company Acoustic Research, which involved the famous and respected Henry Kloss, who went on to found KLH and Cambridge Soundworks), Acoustic Image, Acoustic Lab Technology
  • Denmark (not to be confused with Denon)
  • Dogg Digital, Digital Dogg Audio (reportedly very popular on eBay)
  • Dahlton
  • Dynalab (not to be confused with Dynamat)
  • Epiphany
  • Grafdale
  • Digital Pro Audio, Pro Audio, Digital Audio, Digital Audio Professional Speaker Systems, Digital Audio Skyline Digital Research
  • Epiphany Audio
  • Omni Audio
  • Protecsound
  • Pro Dynamics
  • Paradyme (not to be confused with Paradigm)
  • PSD (jokingly referred to as Paid Scam Drivers). Not to be confused with PSB.
  • Theater Research

They often come in fancy boxes, carrying sticker price tags(since when did goods from a warehouse carry price stickers?) of anywhere from $1000 to $2000 per speaker. Yes, that is a LOT of money for a speaker.

Your eyes glaze over at the pricetag, and ignore any cheap construction which would set off immediate warning bells (such as a paper speaker cone, or a very light and flimsy enclosure). There certainly wouldn't be a 'glitch at the warehouse' regarding the quantity, at these prices (yet another warning sign!) But, they've got invoices. They've got sticker price tags. They probably have any number of brochures and supposed reviews by major audiophile magazines. Our driver/installers are remarkably well equipped for a sales presentation, aren't they, and since when did brochures come laminated?(yet more warning signs). They've even got a website address for the manufacturer (which has been set up by the ringleader of the scam) and a phone number for the factory where they will happily tell any caller that, yes, those units retail for $2,000 per speaker.

If they think you're an easy mark, these guys are your new best friends, and they want to just make some fast money. What do you know, they'll sell you them for "only" a fraction of the price. They'll let you "drive a hard bargain", ultimately going no lower than about $125 to $200. Your ego is swelling; you've bargained them down to what you think is an insanely low price. Your mind is racing, ignoring the fact that you are buying goods you know nothing about; nothing but greed fills your mind. From people you no nothing about. In a parking lot. Literally off the back of a truck.

If you're wishy-washy and nervous, looking easily intimidated, they'll go into high-pressure mode. They may use intimidating body language, get angry, notch up the sympathy play, and so on. This is actually good, particularly if you're in the parking lot of a bank or ATM; you're afraid they were trying to rob you, right?

You're getting incredibly cheap speakers- or worse, wood boxes that look like speakers, with bricks in them- which you won't discover until you try to plug them into your sound system(which you should never do without checking the impedance of the speaker, to make sure it doesn't short out your amplifier). If they're actually speakers, construction will be cheap with poorly made components and cheap materials throughout. They might even sound half OK to the average person. Sit that same person in front of a real set of $200-$400 speakers, point out the differences, and they'll be left wondering how they could be so stupid.

Despite the fact that anyone who falls for this routine gets exactly what they deserve, (unless of course they were intimidated or felt threatened) don't let this happen to you. Don't let it happen to your friends, family, or coworkers. It's as simple as tomorrow saying to a friend "hey, there are these guys selling speakers out of the backs of vans in mall parking lots, they look like they're a steal but they're crap. Don't fall for it!" These operations move from region to region, moving on once local authorities, newspapers and radio stations catch on, which takes a while.

Some people give up there, and throw them in the attic or the trash. However- just as there are people who are utterly lacking in morals selling the stuff, there are plenty of people who will try to at least recoup their loss, or even worse, make a profit. Here in Boston, these speakers have recently started appearing on the community website Craigslist, as people who have been suckered into buying them realize what they got, and try to get -anything- for them. The degree of honesty the poster displays varies from "I got suckered, does anybody want these" to a near replay of the original scam.

What to do? Well, not much, except spread awareness of the scam. They're not doing anything illegal with the sale itself, so they need to be caught on other grounds. For one, anyone selling goods on private property is liable to get into a lot of trouble with the store owner, so there's an easy trespassing charge; this is why many of the operations have moved to flagging down people on the road or at stoplights. You can try playing along- look interested, maybe take a business card, make a note of the plates on the van- and say you'll think about it while you go and shop or after you check out their website or call the factory. Instead- walk straight to the store customer service desk, mall security, or call the police. Even if the cops have little to to work with, they can be very creative in finding something wrong; air freshner hanging from your rear view mirror? Illegal use of equipment, believe it or not. The first thing the officer will ask for will be identification (and if they're holding fake IDs, they'll probably get arrested for that alone). Perhaps you'll be lucky in that one of these shady characters will have an outstanding warrant. The police officer can also run the plates on the van(during which it will probably be discovered that the van is a rental or lease), and so on. All of that information will be of use to others who got scammed one it is in the police department's records.

The problem is that many police departments have given up trying to go after these fly by night companies, mostly because they're shady, but not illegal "enough". They need to be caught doing other things- trespassing(ie, trying to sell on private property without the owner's permission), assault(ie, physically intimidating or threatening you), speeding or reckless endangerment(such as leaning out the window and trying to flag down cars), etc. The best strategy, if you are scammed, is to go after the scam artists for violation of your state's consumer laws. Such laws, however, often have many clauses which are designed to protect legitimate businesses from unreasonable customers, but instead provide loopholes for scam artists(these include most commonly time limitations and whether you attempted to get a refund). You can also complain to your district attorney, and generally TV stations love to set their "consumer watchdog" reporters on this sort of stuff.

These speakers are made or resold through a complicated reseller network. Some of the many company names involved, consisting of companies in the US, Canada, England, France, Germany, and Australia:

  • Audio Wood Products
  • Century Distributors PTY LTD
  • Dynalab
  • Global Audio Network
  • JAM Entertainment/JAM Enterprises, now known as Kelfi Distributors
  • Millennium Speakers
  • Omni Audio or Omni Audio Products
  • Orca Distributors
  • Republic Distributors, Inc. (parent of Omni and Dynalab) or Republic Distributors Of Canada or Republic Distribution GmbH
  • Sound Illusion Production

There is at least one class action lawsuit and reportedly one lawfirm has already received a judgement of about $45,000 against Audio Wood Products for failure to pay a company which supplied cloth for the speaker grills.

Remember, folks. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is!


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The Great International White Van Speaker Scam | 239 comments (223 topical, 16 editorial, 3 hidden)
I bought some speakers that way once. (2.40 / 5) (#1)
by fn0rd on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 10:53:04 PM EST

$80. Acoustic Research sub with a pair of satellites. They sound ok. I still have them, but they're boxed up, having long been replaced by something better. That was about 9 years ago, so maybe the scammers have figured out since then that selling decent speakers is far less lucrative than selling bricks.

This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad

Accoustic Research used to be a great company (none / 3) (#7)
by brettd on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 12:01:32 AM EST

FYI, Accoustic Research was one of several Henry Kloss companies(the most recent being Cambridge Soundworks). AR bookshelf speakers, even 30 years later, are considered some of the best speakers for the money ever made. However, the original AR hasn't been in business for a very long time, and Henry Kloss recently died. It's a shame someone cashed in on the name to sell cheap crap. If you ever come across a set at a yard sale with a logo that looks sorta like "//AR" and they look very old- grab them!

I have a Microworks sub/sat system made by CSW that I bought many years ago, and I love them. The base CSW sub/sat system(PC Works) isn't all that impressive as a sound system(they are for computer speakers), but the Soundworks and especially Microworks are very nice amplified sub/sat systems and were widely reviewed to be far better than systems costing much more.

[ Parent ]

How does it feel (1.18 / 11) (#36)
by Hide The Hamster on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 05:39:07 PM EST

to admit to purchasing stolen private property? If you don't feel remorse, that's the little Karl Marx in you screaming for revolution.

Free spirits are a liability.

August 8, 2004: "it certainly is" and I had engaged in a homosexual tryst.

[ Parent ]
Huh? (none / 0) (#129)
by Anonymous Hiro on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 10:49:22 AM EST

What makes you so sure his speakers were stolen? Sure enough to accuse him of buying stolen property in public.

It could be a USD2 Made in China speaker with "Acoustic Research" stuck on it.

Willing buyer willing seller. Sure it's still a scam, but maybe half of audio equipment sales are scams anyway - look at the speaker cable market. Or some of the really expensive stuff. some not all.

[ Parent ]

Likely not stolen, actually (none / 0) (#144)
by jmzero on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 12:19:40 PM EST

He actually paid a fairly reasonable price for what he got.  I bought a cheap Acoustic Research sub at a chain store here, and the total would have worked out a little lower.  Stealing is a lot harder than buying wholesale, adding a reasonable markup, and selling it out of your van.

I think most of these scams are done with regular merchandise - but they want buyers to believe they're getting buying stolen, so they'll believe they're getting a great deal.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

My Urban-Legend Radar is Getting Set Off (1.50 / 16) (#2)
by Baal on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 10:58:32 PM EST

Any proof this has actually happened beyond an anecdote from a friend?

Oh by the way check this out. I was buying food at Taco Bell this one time but the only money I had was a two-dollar bill. The dumbass clerk thought it was fake money and refused to accept it. I had her call the cops to prove my money was legit. To make a long story short now I get all the food I want from that Taco Bell for free. Cool huh?

No, this is true (none / 1) (#3)
by GenerationY on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 11:15:58 PM EST

I was approached by just such a group of individuals in Glasgow (Scotland) on my way to a pub, circa 1995.

Its quite an established scam here in the UK.

[ Parent ]

do you have proof it's not a urban legend? (3.00 / 5) (#4)
by brettd on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 11:19:42 PM EST

Any proof this has actually happened beyond an anecdote from a friend?

Let's see- numerous people on classifieds boards trying to sell them, describing nearly identical circumstances. Plenty of people posting on audiophile boards that they've been ripped off, or a friend was, or that a customer came in and tried to sell them. Yes, a friend was approached in the manner described almost 10 years ago. Numerous police departments have issued press releases, etc.

If you're simply going to declare all that worthless proof, I'll flip the coin back on you- what proof do you have that it IS an urban legend, and what would convince you? Video? I could fake that. Photos, even easier to fake. Etc.

I'm trying to do a public service here. If you're going to make knee-jerk baseless accusations, do so elsewhere.

[ Parent ]

happened to me (none / 1) (#6)
by llimllib on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 12:00:53 AM EST

just saying. Collegeville, PA, USA, if you care.

[ Parent ]
My flatmate bought a pair (none / 2) (#11)
by Squidward on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 02:46:51 AM EST

White van, $300, sound like absolute crap. This is in Waterloo, Ontario so it's not just the US.

[ Parent ]
It's more common than you think (none / 0) (#41)
by elbarsal on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 09:56:08 PM EST

I've been approached in the Kitchener / Waterloo area more than once. I also know somebody who fell for it. Not terrible speakers, but not worth what he paid for them, and they're huge.

[ Parent ]
Yep (none / 0) (#12)
by squigly on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 04:13:07 AM EST

I've had someone lean out of a van offering to sell me some speakers.  I said "huh!?  No!".  

The university newspaper had a front page article mentioning this scam.  (For a group of people that are meant to be broke and intelligent, students can appear wealthy and stupid).  One person did track them down and manage to get a refund though.  

[ Parent ]

Ohhhhh, yeah. (none / 1) (#16)
by mjfgates on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 10:42:57 AM EST

I've had this (start to) happen to me twice in the past year, although I don't recall what vehicle the guys were using. Both times, some guy drove up to me in a parking lot, yelled out "Hey, you wanna buy some speakers?", I'd say "Fuck no!", and they'd drive off. Once was late last summer down by Puyallup, and the other time was just a couple of weeks ago at the Fred Meyer in East Bremerton.

No clue whether it's an ORGANIZED scam-- I mean, anybody could do this just by purchasing the cheapest speakers in existence and then fancying up the boxes a little-- but the guys in the vans are sure there.

[ Parent ]

Happened to two of my friends (none / 1) (#19)
by berlin on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 11:23:43 AM EST

1st one in Hamburg, around 1995, 2nd in Berlin, 2 years ago. Both were branded "Omni Audio". Both told me the same story, very similar to this one. Well, guy number 2 mentioned a woman. "How big were her tits?" "She was in fact quite beautiful." So yes, it is happening for a long time, and in Germany, too.

[ Parent ]
Happened to me (none / 0) (#20)
by maximumlobster on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 11:29:38 AM EST

In Pembroke Pines, Florida. Didn't buy 'em though.

[ Parent ]
Where? (none / 0) (#108)
by TrbleClef on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 01:40:05 AM EST

Where in Pines? Never seen anything like this down south.

[ Parent ]
South (none / 0) (#235)
by maximumlobster on Sat May 08, 2004 at 03:17:35 PM EST

In the shopping center with cafe iguana, on the corner of pines and university. That could be miramar though, I don't spend alot of time in Broward.

[ Parent ]
Happened to me (none / 0) (#21)
by Djinh on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 11:41:04 AM EST

About 15 years ago in Amsterdam, Holland...

We are the Euro. Resistance is futile. All your dollars will be assimilated.
[ Parent ]
Happened to me twice (none / 0) (#23)
by planders on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 12:23:25 PM EST

They weren't in a white van, just an old pickup, and of course I didn't fall for the scam. The most recent time they tried to make their sales pitch at 50 MPH with the windows rolled down. I don't know if I just look like an easy mark or what.

[ Parent ]
I was approached at a stoplight around 1995... (none / 0) (#27)
by Patrick Bateman on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 01:57:28 PM EST

... give or take a year, in Fremont, California. The two guys weren't dressed in professional-looking uniforms; they looked like they had just been let out of prison. Needless to say, I didn't buy anything from them. A story about the scam showed up in the local newspaper the next week.

I have to return some videotapes.
[ Parent ]

Happened to me, too (none / 1) (#30)
by dennis on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 04:03:55 PM EST

Three or four years ago, I was walking out of a Starbucks. Two guys, white van, had these two high-end speakers that they just had to get rid of. Delivery not accepted, factory wouldn't take it back, all this hi-fi goodness was just going down the crapper unless they could unload it before they got back to work. A bargain at a couple hundred bucks. No sale.

Scams like this happen all the time. If it sounds like urban legend to you, I'll be happy to sell you a bridge ;)

[ Parent ]

Happened to me (1.44 / 9) (#32)
by STFUYHBT on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 05:33:27 PM EST

Just kidding, but a guy in a van did kidnap me and keep me in a well for a couple days. Put the lotion in the fucking basket!

"Of all the myriad forms of life here, the 'troll-diagnostic' is surely the lowest, yes?" -medham
[ Parent ]
Happened to me. (none / 1) (#33)
by Kyle on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 05:35:46 PM EST

I was on my way to work when these guys tried to flag me down a year or two ago. Sometime in the mid to late 1990's, a friend and I were approached in a parking lot too. I never made the connection before now.

[ Parent ]

Happened to me (1.08 / 12) (#35)
by Hide The Hamster on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 05:37:35 PM EST

Just kidding. I just lied. ^_^

Free spirits are a liability.

August 8, 2004: "it certainly is" and I had engaged in a homosexual tryst.

[ Parent ]
This happened to my roommate. (none / 0) (#48)
by Morally Inflexible on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 01:12:58 AM EST

Now, while being significantly more intelligent than I, my roommate is shy and easily intimidated- I imagine that's how he got stuck with the speakers. He said he bought 'em out of a van. Apparently, he paid $200 for a 6 speaker set by 'Dogg Digital'. An audiophile friend informed him that the speakers were worthless some time later.

After plugging them into the cheap woofer/amp attached to my computer, I found that the audio quality was acceptable- probably about as good as you could expect considering the amp involved.

Anyhow, being the cheap bastard with mediocre hearing that I am, after hearing the story, I offered my roommate $20 for the set. The speakers are heavy, and appear to be well built, at least on the outside. They have clever swivel mounting brackets that attach to ceilings or walls. Definately not worth $1500, or even $200, but a reasonable set of speakers for $20.

[ Parent ]

Happened to me 2X (none / 0) (#54)
by zen troll on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 05:03:44 AM EST

Once in the parking lot of a local dept store, and once while I was stopped at a traffic light. They actually pulled off the street and knocked on my window. Both times the van was white, and both times they claimed to have been been installing speakers at local movie theaters and had somehow wound up with extra merchandise. Of course they were more than willing to make me a "great deal" on theater quality speakers. Needless to say I was not in the market for theater speakers.

[ Parent ]
Not an Urban Legend (none / 1) (#58)
by Tritone on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 10:03:00 AM EST

Happened to me exactly as described, at a stop light in Annapolis, Maryland. I was broke at the time so I declined his offer.


Rick: Yeah, this is the sort of thing that Limp Bizkit would play. I'm down with him, you know. With Mr. Bizkit.
[ Parent ]
happened to me, too (none / 0) (#77)
by IlIlIIllIIlllIII on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 07:03:01 PM EST

but I was too smart for those guys. It happened in the parking lot of the local Subway, and I was accosted by a white guy who wanted to sell me a speaker system. He started off at $800 and went down to $100. I tried to look interested and said I'd come back with more money, but instead I got my sandwich and left. It was sweet. +1 fp

[ Parent ]
About 10 years ago... (none / 0) (#86)
by driptray on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 09:39:36 PM EST

...it happened to me, as I was driving about 80 kmh, a white van pulled alongside and a guy lent out the window and started yelling about speakers. This was in Australia, and it was a well-known scam back then.

The guys were basically implying that the speakers were stolen, and that they had to get rid of them quickly.
We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
[ Parent ]

I got approached about 2 years ago. (none / 0) (#94)
by 0x29a on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 11:24:17 PM EST

Was parked in a shopping center, a van screeched up with two guys in it.

They were not that aggressive, and they did not impersonate delivery men. They seemed to be alluding to the fact that the speakers were smoking hot, having been stolen very recently.

I said "I do not have a stero".  They mumbled something and then sped off.

[ Parent ]

dumb house mate (none / 0) (#101)
by bankind on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 11:46:22 PM EST

1996, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 175 per box of shit.

"Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman
[ Parent ]

One more "happened to me" (none / 0) (#117)
by jayhawk88 on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 07:43:14 AM EST

Outside a Best Buy a couple years ago. I think they're story was that "we can't afford them but Best Buy won't take them back" or something of that nature.

Why, then, should we grant government the Orwellian capability to listen at will and in real time to our communications across the Web? -- John Ashcroft
[ Parent ]
I was offered a set in Bristol... (none / 0) (#145)
by jmzero on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 12:20:56 PM EST

I never actually saw the van - but I listened to the whole pitch (involving an extra pair and the boss being away).  
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]
Happened to me. (none / 0) (#157)
by phriedom on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 03:56:06 PM EST

Beaverton, OR, 1995. Bank parking lot. It was about 5pm and I had just deposited my paycheck. I was a young, single guy driving a Saab. Fits the profile perfectly huh. They said the warehouse had given them 4 pair instead of 4 and if they returned to the office with them their boss would just take them. I think I asked them why they don't just return them to the warehouse, I don't remember what they said. They had an invoice that showed $1000 each or something, and a brochure. I walked away and one of them followed me most of the way to my car trying to persuade me; saying he didn't have much time because they were expected back, and it was an awesome deal because they just wanted to get something for them. I kept saying, "If you're in a hurry, then you're wasting your time talking to me." and I kept walking. Finally, the guy swore loudly and stomped back to his van. I almost felt bad for them at the time, even though I thought they were taking advantage of a warehouse, since I thought they needed the money and their boss was a jerk. But I wasnt' about to buy essentially stolen stuff out of the back of a van.
I don't ask for much, I just want a lot of it.
[ Parent ]
Not quite (none / 0) (#166)
by Cro Magnon on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 05:06:30 PM EST

But I have had a total stranger try to sell me a cheap watch. I figured it was stolen and just walked away.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
happened to me too (none / 0) (#168)
by Baldrson Neutralizer on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 05:49:46 PM EST

about 3 years ago. guy in a gold jeep grand cherokee wanted to sell me some speakers that he couldn't return to the store he got them from but needed to get rid of them. It was around christmas time in a mall parking lot. He waved a yellow piece of paper claiming it to be a receipt. the guy was pretty bad at it and I wasn't at all interested in spending more money, regardless of the deal I would be getting.

Modern life, in EVERY ASPECT, is a cult of mediocrity.-trhurler
[ Parent ]
I've been approached too (none / 1) (#189)
by I Hate Yanks on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 05:15:31 AM EST

In the road just outside of Sheffield Hallam University's main campus. The guy tried to use "We've just done an installation at the Arena and we had too many speakers. These are spares and there's no room for them back at base."

I didn't stand around to listen long. My normal response when approached by canvassers or salesmen is to look at them in the face for a couple of seconds as if I'm listening then turn around and walk away without saying anything.

Reasons to hate Americans (No. 812): Circletimessquare lives there.
[ Parent ]

Happened to me loads of times, London uk [nt] (none / 0) (#208)
by nebbish on Wed Apr 14, 2004 at 06:19:13 AM EST

Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee
[ Parent ]

They hit me up in Boston while I was in my car (2.50 / 6) (#5)
by MichaelCrawford on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 11:29:40 PM EST

I can attest to this happening. Fortunately I didn't fall for it, but it was more because I didn't need the speakers than that I suspected they weren't legit.

While waiting at a traffic light, behind the wheel of my car, two guys in a van in the next lane offerred to sell me the speakers they had in the back of their van.

And yes, they did say they had extra after doing an installation job.


Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy

I came close to falling for this scam once. (2.80 / 5) (#13)
by Psycho Dave on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 04:27:34 AM EST

This was about eight years ago. I certainly wasn't driving anything that screamed "disposable income" (a beat up '86 Subara Brat). They pulled up to me at a signal.

I followed them into a parking lot and let them run through their spiel. Didn't have enough money on me so they offered to put the speakers in the back of my Brat and follow me to the nearest ATM.

The devil started whispering into my ear. Since they were screwing their boss, why should I feel obliged to pay them anything. If they were going to put the speakers in my pickup before getting the money, couldn't I find some way to lose them on the road and get the speakers for free? Hmmm.

The angel on my other shoulder got the better of me, and just told me to walk away from this bad situation. I wish-washed my way out, leaving the two assholes acting all exasperated. I guess there was no sense in stealing something that was worthless anyway.

What I want to know is, who is behind these little ghetto kids they send through my neighborhood selling cheap candy, tea, and candles at outrageous prices so they can "win a scholarship" or "go on a ski trip". No one should be sending little kids door to door alone in the neighborhood I used to live in.

Candy (none / 2) (#52)
by TheOnlyCoolTim on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 03:08:16 AM EST

At least some of the candy-sellings kids are legit, although overcharging you - candy sales are a pretty common fundraising tactic.

"We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."
[ Parent ]

Actually... (none / 0) (#99)
by Aphexian on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 11:27:24 PM EST

You've got me cracking up - A parody of this same article, substituting Girl Scouts/Fund Raisers/Door-to-door Evangelists/etc for the "nasty men in a White Van" would be high comedy.... Especially parodying the intimidation angle, with the sympathy angle instead...

I'd just be polluting the airwaves, but I would write it up, if I weren't so damned drunk already...

[I]f there were NO religions, there would be actual, true peace... Bunny Vomit
[ Parent ]

a fun one (none / 1) (#179)
by Wah on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 12:26:43 AM EST

..is reformed gang members on the subway.

"Please buy this candy so I don't end up on the street."

White guilt is almost better than sex (from a sales perspective).
K5 troll comment rating guidelines....
The Best Troll Comment Evar, really great stuff, trips up a bunch of people, and wastes a day. == 1
[ Parent ]

Boo fucking hoo (1.40 / 5) (#14)
by ShadowNode on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 04:55:11 AM EST

Greedy morons are relieved of their money. Why is this bad?

Ummm... it's illegal? (nt) (none / 0) (#15)
by bigchris on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 08:59:45 AM EST

I Hate Jesus: -1: Bible thumper
kpaul: YAAT. YHL. HAND. btw, YAHWEH wins ;) [mt]
[ Parent ]
Actually it's not (3.00 / 4) (#31)
by godix on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 04:41:19 PM EST

The article itself points this out, the act of selling the speakers is not illegal. Some things the sellers do is illegal, IE selling on private property (even then they would have to be told by the owners to leave and they didn't leave before that'd be considered trespassing). Selling shit from a huge markup isn't legally wrong, hell the entire diamond industry thrives on it.

Thank god I'm worth more than SilentChris

[ Parent ]
You guys don't have laws against solicitation? /nt (none / 0) (#43)
by blakdogg on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 11:46:46 PM EST

Woe be onto the United Nations, there nothing but a front.
[ Parent ]
Quality (2.83 / 6) (#17)
by ffrinch on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 10:54:19 AM EST

There are some reviews here. All of the reviewers mention buying them from white vans, but not all of the reviews are negative. Yes, they could all be shills, or they could all have deluded themselves into thinking that the speakers are good, but I doubt it.

It's more likely that to the non-audiophile, they just don't seem as bad as you're making out. It's a scam, but unless they get stuck with bricks, most of the people who get caught out won't ever know or care. You overestimate the average person's ability to discern "good" and "bad" sound quality. (To me, my $15 speakers sound fine...)

Arguably, that the scammers are doing people a favour, making them feel happy about getting such a huge discount on high quality gear!!!!11one ;)

"I learned the hard way that rock music ... is a powerful demonic force controlled by Satan." — Jack Chick

there's plenty of obvious manipulation (none / 3) (#26)
by brettd on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 01:12:55 PM EST

You're right, this isn't a negative review, no, not at all(there are numerous negative reviews like this, citing numerous failures, poor construction, etc):

Reviewed by:Craig,AudioPhile Price Paid:$0 Summary: Anyone that rates these speakers with anything above a "1" is ignorant, a troll, or involved with the scam and are just try to elevate thew average rating. That is it. NO other choices. What is funny is the folks that give a good rating to this junk and claim to be "audiophlies". BAHAHAHAHA. Strengths: landfill material Weaknesses: cannot flush these down the toilet Similar Products Used: fishnet condoms

The problem is that the speaker scam guys have figured out they can manipulate the review boards, most often claiming that equipment that drives other speakers just fine isn't good enough for the scam speakers. The following is a downright obvious attempt to distort the ratings; the poster gave it the maximum rating in all categories, couldn't manage to spell "Audiophile" properly in his post, and claims the speakers are made in Denmark(they're not. They are made in the same country they are sold, using the absolute cheapest drivers and materials they can find, ripping off suppliers where ever possible).


[ Parent ]

Mr. Craig seems like (none / 1) (#85)
by JChen on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 09:13:05 PM EST

he has a bad case of zealous "-phile"ism.

Let us do as we say.
[ Parent ]
My stepdad bought some that way. (2.62 / 8) (#22)
by romperstomper on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 12:16:42 PM EST

Probably not worth what he paid for them, but as far as quality, they sounded fine to me.  

Far more satisfying though, was the way he painted "SUCKER" on his face by bragging about what a good deal he got, as though he'd really bought 1000 bucks worth of equipment for 300.  


dear God (1.00 / 9) (#28)
by reklaw on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 01:58:03 PM EST

why are people so fucking stupid? I despair for humanity, really I do.
so that's what that was... (2.66 / 6) (#38)
by dirvish on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 07:21:54 PM EST

I had some guys try this driving down a busy road a few weeks ago. They were so obnoxious and distracting that they could have easily caused an accident. The guy in the passenger seat was leaning out the window yelling at me, asking if I wanted to buy some speakers. I just stared at them, dumbfounded that someone was trying to sell speakers to random people while driving down the road. I had no clue that it was a widespread scam. I didn't actually stop my car to talk to these jokers. I think they were driving a Blazer or Durango. It looked new, so probably a rental as you described. Thanks for the info!

Technical Certification Blog, Anti Spam Blog
Who cares (2.16 / 6) (#40)
by power guido on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 07:30:37 PM EST

about stupid compulsive shoppers?

It's not like this sales technique is illegal or something, it's basically how all telemarketers and infomercials sell their useless crap. The line between that stuff and scam is very thin indeed. Bose Audio anyone?

The rule. (3.00 / 4) (#192)
by ekj on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 08:58:27 AM EST

The rule for avoiding 99% of all such scams is easy: Get a brain.

For that part of the population that cannot be bothered to go that far, there's a replacement rule that works almost as well:

Never buy anything when the seller is the one initiating the transaction.

If someone approaches you, and want you to buy something, the rigth answer is no. If you actually want the thing, it's still in 99% of the cases better to seak out a vendor for yourself.

In addition to being mostly crap, by buying you encourage antisocial annoying behaviour. Do you really *want* every company and crook in the world to run down your door, your phone, approach you on every park-place, heck even shout at you from the auto next to you when you stop at a red ligth ?

[ Parent ]

+1, Informative (2.36 / 11) (#44)
by egg troll on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 12:11:20 AM EST

I'm hoping you write other pieces similar subjects. Perhaps one on what to do when you wake up in an ice-filled bathtub in a strange hotel room AND DISCOVER BOTH YOUR KIDNEYS HAVE BEEN STOLEN!

He's a bondage fan, a gastronome, a sensualist
Unparalleled for sinister lasciviousness.

dirty pretty things (none / 0) (#89)
by Wah on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 10:14:50 PM EST

10G or a passport, take your pick.
K5 troll comment rating guidelines....
The Best Troll Comment Evar, really great stuff, trips up a bunch of people, and wastes a day. == 1
[ Parent ]
Sometime I'd like to see a story (2.84 / 13) (#45)
by craigd on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 12:36:02 AM EST

on how to pull off a good scam. With disclaimers that it is highly illegal, of course, but it would be entertaining.

A man who says little is a man who speaks two syllables.
Lie convincingly (none / 2) (#57)
by godix on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 08:43:15 AM EST

That's really all there is to it.

Thank god I'm worth more than SilentChris

[ Parent ]
You're worth more than me, too. (none / 2) (#158)
by rustv on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 04:04:51 PM EST

Well, you definitely deserve it.

Me at $100 and you at $200?

I'm as overpriced as a white van speaker.

"Don't tase me, bro." --Andrew Meyer
[ Parent ]

(3) Encourage (none / 2) (#169)
by godix on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 06:38:46 PM EST

just for turning a reply about my sig into an on topic post.

Thank god I'm worth more than SilentChris

[ Parent ]
suggested scam (3.00 / 4) (#100)
by horny smurf on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 11:35:32 PM EST

Dress up like a (cross-dressed/she-male) prostitute Get picked up for blowjob/anal. Pull out your fake badge and tell the John that this is a bust. Steal his wallet.

This actually happened in NYC last year.

[ Parent ]

What happens (3.00 / 4) (#133)
by LilDebbie on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 11:17:47 AM EST

ff the John is a cop trying to bust you?

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
Steal his wallet AND his gun, sell gun on ebay.nt (none / 0) (#218)
by Russell Dovey on Thu Apr 15, 2004 at 07:44:12 AM EST

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

start here (none / 0) (#234)
by Zork the Almighty on Sat Apr 24, 2004 at 04:24:11 AM EST


[ Parent ]
I got approached on this one (2.87 / 8) (#47)
by lazloToth on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 01:07:05 AM EST

I was by myself after having lunch with some people I used to work with. A young white guy in a van looking like every guy I hated in high school and college asked me if I wanted to buy a set of speakers. He called me buddy, which is the best way to get me to hate you if I don't know you. After 1/100 second of thought, I realized no way was this in anyway a good thing, imagining rolls of masking tape in the van and flashing on the pawn shop scene of Pulp Fiction, said no, sorry, and walked off.

This article is totally wrong (1.60 / 38) (#49)
by foon on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 01:13:26 AM EST

I purchased a pair of Dynalab speakers from a friendly man operating out of a white van, as described.  The price was very reasonable, just about $150.  I consider myself an audiophile and have a high-quality Bose stereo system (retail price: $6000), and premimum Monster Cable interconnects.  The quality of these speakers is nothing short of amazing by comparison to the stock Bose speakers, you really get a sense of atomsphere and color, and the bass is powerful.  Everyone else who has heard them has been amazed.  The detail advantage comes out especially well with 24-bit SACD recordings.  I have seen models identical to them in recording industry catalogs at prices over $4000 per speaker (the list price quoted by the salesman in the van was only $2000...even that is a steal).  Don't believe the hype; if you get a chance to buy some of these, there is no better value.

"high-quality Bose" (none / 1) (#55)
by sholden on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 06:07:37 AM EST

That's just too funny...

The world's dullest web page

[ Parent ]
I have to agree (none / 0) (#65)
by Dogun on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 04:50:58 PM EST

I have *not* been impressed with Bose.

[ Parent ]
Buy a set (none / 2) (#95)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 11:24:20 PM EST

After that, you'll swear by them. You'll also swear at people who know how much you overpaid. It happens to everyone who buys Bose.

jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
What a deal! (none / 1) (#66)
by jmzero on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 05:04:58 PM EST

Oooh, and I can't wait for the shootout in TAS.  The 3 juggernauts finally collide - Dynalab vs. Bose vs. Labtec.  The dumpster behind Radio Shack will be forever rocked!
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]
Hilarious! You've made my day. (nt) (none / 0) (#69)
by chuhwi on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 05:30:45 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Do you drive a white van too? [nt] (none / 2) (#70)
by Dphitz on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 05:32:28 PM EST

God, please save me . . . from your followers

[ Parent ]
Bose != Quality (2.33 / 6) (#74)
by Brian Puccio on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 06:19:36 PM EST

Bose FAQ

Christ, people who have Bose systems and call themselves audiophiles never seem to amaze me, but now throw on top of it Monster Cables, wow, talk about clueless. You might also want to read about calbes and snake oil. Than read about audio cables and religion, what is hifi, and for those of you who swear to be audiophiles, but don't know the first thing about what you swear by, please take a physics crash course.

[ Parent ]
YHBT. YHL. HAND. (none / 1) (#84)
by pb on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 09:12:31 PM EST

"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]
Monster Cables Do Make a Difference (none / 0) (#128)
by milican on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 10:42:51 AM EST

There is an article on Firing Squad that has detailed answers and concluded that Monster Cables do make a difference.

If you think about it the quality of the cable does matter as electrical signals do not propagate equally through any metal medium. Tin cables are not going to work as well as copper cables. Low grade copper cables are not going to work as well as high grade copper cables. In addition, gold interconnects do make the best connections. If you whipped out a frequency analyzer I'm sure you would see that high end cables do propagate electrical signals more faithfully. In other words, more accurate colors, more vibrant colors, better color separation than on "el cheapo" cables.

Now, is it worth the money? Is the change in quality that noticable? Those are subjective answers. If I had a big TV and a high end stereo system I would throw down for some Monster Cables, or some cables from Radio Shack with gold interconnects, but never *ever* a $5k cable. Not even if the damn thing was made of 100% 14k gold or something. On that note, the Radio Shack cables seem well designed and well priced.


[ Parent ]
cable scams (none / 2) (#147)
by tgibbs on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 01:02:59 PM EST

If you think about it the quality of the cable does matter as electrical signals do not propagate equally through any metal medium. Tin cables are not going to work as well as copper cables. Low grade copper cables are not going to work as well as high grade copper cables. In addition, gold interconnects do make the best connections. If you whipped out a frequency analyzer I'm sure you would see that high end cables do propagate electrical signals more faithfully. In other words, more accurate colors, more vibrant colors, better color separation than on "el cheapo" cables.

Fancy cables are basically expensive audio placebos. The only factor which matters with speaker cables is whether they are thick enough to provide a low-resistance link to the amplifier. Low grade copper, high grade copper, the difference is negligible. Guys with spectrum analyzers have studied fancy cables, and have found that they either do nothing (most commonly) or actually alter the sound, basically functioning as expensive tone controls. The only real advantage to gold connectors is that they are not going to oxidize, which can potentially add resistance.

[ Parent ]

no .... (none / 2) (#201)
by taniwha on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 08:31:29 PM EST

for a start that's an article about VIDEO CABLES - things where it does matter what the dieletric is and whether there are impedance discontinuities etc etc because it's RF (within reason), speaker cable on the other hand is a whole different thing and IMHO a wonderfull scam.
I'm an electrical engineer, there are a bunch of articles by Bob Pease an analog engineer who writes a regular column and who's forgotten more about analog than I've ever known - he's done some debunking in this area - try searching "speaker cable pease" on google

[ Parent ]
Meh (none / 0) (#139)
by jmzero on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 11:30:52 AM EST

you who swear to be audiophiles, but don't know the first thing about what you swear by

The only interesting information about a stereo system to me is how good it sounds.  A knowledge of the physics involved may help in predicting this information, but acheiving correct measurements is certainly not the end goal.  I'm never going to understand all of the physics of sound or the electronics behind it - but it is easy to test.

The only real way to find a setup you like is to try a bunch - preferably in the environment they'll be in.  My brother is a bit of an audiophile, is friendly with a few dealers, and is constantly dragging home different equipment.  

Regardless of what anyone says, cables can make a large difference - we tried a whole bunch, and it was clear which one was which.  On one set test of about 10 different sets, he preferred some generic, thickly shielded rubbery ones we found in his basement - and I preferred some Cat 5 we stole from work.  The Monster Cables really did sound different, and although neither of us preferred that sound it's not unreasonable to believe someone else would.

I think the guy's point "don't buy ludicrously expensive cables" is very good advice - but after hearing the difference between a few cables, I can't really dismiss those who claim the superiority of this one or that.  There are audiophiles who get religious about pseudo-science, but there are also those who've arrived at their expensive favorite by honestly testing lots of others.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

Troll alert! (none / 2) (#125)
by smithmc on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 10:15:14 AM EST

I consider myself an audiophile and have a high-quality Bose stereo system (retail price: $6000)

Dude, you revealed yourself as a troll right there. "High-quality Bose" is an oxymoron.

[ Parent ]

Not to mention.... (none / 0) (#184)
by Belgand on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 01:48:42 AM EST

that he also mentioned using Monster Cable interconnects. A well-played troll.

[ Parent ]
And Kuro5hin is Trolled Once Again... (1.03 / 32) (#51)
by Baal on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 02:20:26 AM EST

This "article" is getting voted up without any fact-checking from those doling out "+1 FP's." This of course comes as no surprise to an intelligent troll aficionodo such as I. Kuro5hin is a refuge for the type of man often characterized as "book-smart but not street-smart."

Here we have a "story" full of anecdotal evidence. Evidence of a huge international crime syndicate who's sole purpose is to con novice "audiophiles."

Yet there is no hard evidence of this international conspiracy. An intellectual such as myself would think that such a far reaching scam would have been reported by a prestigious organization such as Yahoo NewsTM. Of course such evidence is lacking from this half-hearted troll.

The day that the average "Kuron" "wises up" to this "tomfoolery" is the day that I leave this site permanently. That will be the day that I have to "move on" and find a new group of "pseudo intellectual wankers" to lord my "superiority" over.

Quotation Mark Abuse (2.75 / 4) (#59)
by CheeseburgerBrown on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 10:09:24 AM EST

I call it, no erasies.

The quest for the Grail is the quest for that which is holy in all of us. Plus, I really need a place to keep my juice.
[ Parent ]
but (none / 0) (#79)
by IlIlIIllIIlllIII on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 07:09:44 PM EST

the exact thing that the article is describing has happened to me. +1 fp.

[ Parent ]
It is true... (none / 0) (#98)
by btakita on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 11:26:13 PM EST

I had two men drive up to me trying to sell speakers at a Gas station in Oakland, Ca.

[ Parent ]
It really is true (none / 0) (#109)
by LKM on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 03:52:09 AM EST

I was approached a few months ago by a guy in a white van telling me he wanted to sell me speakers he had left over from a job. Didn't fall for it (I assumed they were stolen). This is in Switzerland. So it's definitely happening, and it's not only happening in one place.

[ Parent ]
Me too (none / 0) (#190)
by cockroach on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 05:49:20 AM EST

Twice in Aarau, once in Bern.
Webisoder - never miss another TV episode
[ Parent ]
Happened Twice To Me (2.66 / 6) (#53)
by n8f8 on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 04:28:16 AM EST

I've been approached twice in the past. Once in Norfolk, Virginia back in 1991 and another time in Berkley, California. More recently I've seen and been approached by scammers selling crap paintings out of a van. One guy had the balls to go office-to-office inside a big corporate building I was working in. That one additionallly raised my interrest because everyone in the building was a government contractor and it would be a clever way of getting bugging devices into the building.

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
Could be legit (none / 0) (#134)
by 5150 on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 11:20:11 AM EST

Actually there is a company (sorry I don't know the name) that sells artwork door-to-door. A former college acquaintance of mine did this after graduation, and made her best sales in corporate offices. It was a company like Avon or Kirby, which are both legit even if irritating.

[ Parent ]
Hmmm (none / 0) (#143)
by jmzero on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 12:14:36 PM EST

I actually think there's a good market there.  

You can buy art-school-ish paintings off the street of any major city (especially New York) for $30 or $40.  These are original (well, hand painted on canvas - not terribly unique) works that to most eyes look pretty dang good.  

The other end of the market is businesses, who often pay stupid amounts for Robert Bateman (or other cheese-art) prints in mediocre frames.  

Connecting these two could make someone a lot of money - and everyone gets a good deal.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

weird art student experiences (none / 3) (#156)
by mdecerbo on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 03:48:27 PM EST

everyone in the building was a government contractor and it would be a clever way of getting bugging devices into the building.

This is curiously remniscient of the Israeli "art students" who were mentioned in a national counterintelligence alert six months before the September 11th attacks for getting inside Federal facilities, ostensibly to sell art or get comments on their artwork.

Le Monde later reported that a bunch of them were Israeli spies, and their stomping grounds largely coincided with those of the 9-11 hijackers.

Unrelatedly, I myself was approached by a pair of Asian "art students" walking with my roommate along Saratoga Avenue near I-280 in south San Jose in 1993. (Yes, I was one of the few people in San Jose without a car.)

They had some mass-produced "laser art" prints to sell me as a straight business transaction. When I demurred, they tried to pitch it as a Christian fund-raising endeavor. After that did not close the deal, they may have taken a couple different tacks as we walked along (pedestrian distances in San Jose are immense) to no avail, but finally settled on the story that they had just returned from some sort of summer program at Moscow University to support world peace or some equally vague goal.

I had pretty much had it with the changing stories by then and thought I could finally catch them in a fabrication. "Moscow University? Ottogo vy, konechno, govorite po-russki. A kak vam ponravilas' Moskva?"

To my chagrin, they broke into broad grins. "Ochen' ponravilas'! My byli tam shest' nedel', i..." They even had stationery from their program blessing the fund-raising venture, with MGU's legitimate address in the Rabbit Hills.

It's a big, weird world out there, but sometimes the truth is the weirdest story of all.

[ Parent ]

This is absolutely fascinating. (2.75 / 4) (#56)
by Vendor on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 07:39:10 AM EST

I'm actually totally stunned. I had no idea these guys were out there. Sure, I've been offered items on the street/at traffic lights by guys who wanted to sell watches/headsets/coathangers/tennis balls/fruit/etc, but never the kind of guys that you mention here. I don't understand how anyone can fall for something like this. Why would anyone buy a product like this without a demo and/or some kind of warranty/garantee???

because... (none / 1) (#97)
by horny smurf on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 11:25:42 PM EST

the victim is making a decision without having the opportunity to think it over. It's the same reason TV Ads tell you to order within the next 10 minutes and get 2 bottles of fat-be-gone for the price of one.

[ Parent ]
Fat-Be-gone works! (3.00 / 8) (#116)
by mcgrew on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 07:00:20 AM EST

I bought a bottle, and my wife left!

"Those who would give up, um, yada yada yada" -Anonymous Coward
[ Parent ]

This must be really widespread. (2.75 / 4) (#61)
by interrobanger on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 11:32:23 AM EST

Last year my roommate and I were in his car (he was driving) here in Tallahassee and this guy in some kind of pinstriped uniform shirt, driving a white minivan, started gesturing to me at a stoplight. I put the window down and he started asking if we wanted some speakers, said he had some left over from a job. It immediately struck me that having speakers left over from a job isn't exactly like putting together furniture and having a couple of screws or something left over, but I didn't figure it was a scam, just figured he and the guy with him were crooks who were trying to fleece their boss and get creative with the inventory.

My computer has 5.1 sound and so does the living room TV, but I wasn't even tempted. I just said no thanks and put the window back up in the middle of his spiel when he started to get angry/pushy. The whole thing struck me as pretty stupid.

I don't get how so many people fall for crap like this (or the 419 scams or whatever).

God Hates Figs!
yep (none / 1) (#75)
by Work on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 06:26:27 PM EST

same here. a couple of guys who dressed themselves up to look like car audio installers pull up next to me to see if i wanted some speakers... i just changed lanes.

[ Parent ]
where in town? (none / 0) (#106)
by TrbleClef on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 01:24:18 AM EST

Just curious, but - where in Tally?

[ Parent ]
Apalachee Parkway (none / 0) (#130)
by interrobanger on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 11:00:07 AM EST

At the intersection in front of Albertson's, just down from the mall. They tried to get my attention again down in front of the mall, but I just ignored them.

God Hates Figs!
[ Parent ]
A guy I know fell for it.... (2.50 / 4) (#67)
by Cloud Cuckoo on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 05:09:10 PM EST

He was stopped walking down the street by two guys who had these awesome "Audofile" speakers they they just had to sell, even at a loss. They even showed him some printed reviews that must have made it seem like listening to these speakers was better than sex. He ended up paying $200 for something that sounded like it was worth 20. I was informed that the week before he was scrounging to pay for tuition....ehe.

A Similar Experience (none / 3) (#68)
by Houston T on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 05:16:34 PM EST

Something like this happened to me in the northeast US about 6 years ago. Some guys with a white van, in broad daylight and in the busy parking lot of a department store, offered me a bunch of audio equipment for free. They had some story about moving it for a band, and having to leave it behind. There was nothing shady or threatening about their manner, but taking the equipment undoubtedly required me climbing inside some strangers' van, and the situation itself was so unusual that I declined. Did the scam work differently earlier on, or did I just follow my instincts out of a bunch of free stuff?

Me 2 (none / 0) (#222)
by jo42 on Thu Apr 15, 2004 at 01:45:36 PM EST

Except, the clowns almost ran me over - which royally pissed me off and I told them to go take a hike...

[ Parent ]
HAHA, my last boss got SCAMMED!! (none / 2) (#71)
by zcat on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 05:52:59 PM EST

A guy I did some cash work for traded me a pair of speakers instead of $50 he owed. He claimed that he originally paid $1000, and that they were worth twice that. I figured he was just bullshitting me because they looked to be worth $150 at most.. they're OK party speakers, but that's about all. They're not 'studio monitor' speakers for sure! Anyhow, I finally got around to looking up the brand "acoustic studio monitor". There's no manufacturers website, but there's a bunch of them on auction sites and at least one reference to the 'white van' scam. I'm starting to think he really did pay $1000 for them!

Don't buy anything off the back of a truck (3.00 / 6) (#72)
by sakusha on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 05:57:44 PM EST

A friend of mine fell for a similar scam, quite a few years ago. Someone was selling VCRs out of the back of their car. He had a demo model out of the box to examine, and several units in sealed boxes that looked like they were factory sealed. So he bought one for $50. He got it home and opened it up, there was a couple of bricks inside the box, no VCR.

I bought some (3.00 / 4) (#73)
by fridgemagnet on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 05:59:20 PM EST

In Edinburgh, must have been a good eight or nine years ago now, when I was a student. Not something I'd ever do now, and I probably could have got speakers just as good for less, but they were pretty decent to my untrained ear. Big studio speakers, good bass able to shake my trousers in another room, didn't distort - I kept them for several years after that, and only got rid of them when I left the country.

There were quite a few people at the same time who fell for the same thing. The theory going round was that they were kit-built. Whoever built them seemed to have been at least competent if that was the case.

I've been ripped off for far more money than that in my time. I'm not that bothered.

"bugler of incongruity"

Likewise. (none / 0) (#213)
by cdyer on Wed Apr 14, 2004 at 11:30:16 AM EST

I fell for this one about seven years back.  I brought the speakers back, figuring worst case scenario would be that I had a story to tell, and two hundred dollars of humility to my name.  Thing is, they were actually good speakers.  Not the $1000 good that the "original price" claimed, but worth two hundred dollars.  I talked to three other people that week who had bought the same brand off white vans.  We were all happy with our purchases.


[ Parent ]

And I didn't (none / 0) (#236)
by sydb on Sun Jun 06, 2004 at 07:07:43 PM EST

About eight or nine years ago, in Edinburgh, Polwarth Terrace to be precise, studio speakers.

Bet they were the same guys!

Making Linux GPL'd was definitely the best thing I ever did - Linus Torvalds
[ Parent ]

I was scammed too ! (2.83 / 6) (#76)
by jim.fr on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 06:58:16 PM EST

Berlin, Germany, beginning of 1997. I was riding my mountain bike across town. A white van stops besides me and the drivers asks me for directions. As I begin to answer, he asks if I would be interested in hi-fi speakers at incredible prices. I thought, why not take a look. I was worried about security, but this was a reasonably busy street in a good part of the city, so I told them I would take a look. They showed me big boxes. I asked them for technical specifications, they had none, but the side of the boxes had quite impressive numbers written on them. I am not very knowledgeable about hi-fi, but enough to be impressed by some of what I saw. They explained me that they were delivering the stuff, but because of an accounting error they had a pair of speakers as extra inventory and they wanted to offload them on the black market instead of taking them back to report the error. At that point, I should have broken contact, but I was young, naïve and opportunistic, so I decided to play along. Believing that it was stolen goods and that they had therefore no costs I knew that there was much bargaining space. They offered me a price, and I haggled it down to 40% of their initial offer. I was quite proud of myself, but in fact I paid only a bit less than I would have paid in a shop for speakers with their advertised specifications and much more than for than I would have paid in a shop for speakers with their actual performance. We chatted a bit, and they told me they were Dutch, boasting about the quality of the dutch ganja. I asked them to follow me to where my apartment complexe was and paid them DM350 once they dropped the boxes in front of the building. They disappeared never to be seen again. At every step since I met the guys, I was quite worried about security, and I guess that's how I lost enough of my judgment to buy on impulse. Years of experience have taught me never to buy on impulse, but that time I did, and I guess that the results helped the lesson sink in even more. I then went looking on the Internet for more information about the hardware and found out about the scam. I was pissed. I tested the boxes (Omni Audio 12.3) : the sound was clearly low end. I kept the boxes since them as party hardware for garden parties or parties wild enough that I fear for the hardware. All in all I was not too badly conned and I learned a good lesson for less money than the same sort of lesson usually costs... If it looks too good to be true, give it some time to think about it and do not buy on impulse. Dood deals do exist, but good deals that put pressure on you to buy right now without thinking are generally scams.

A page with information about the scam :

Why would you buy STOLEN goods? (none / 3) (#83)
by skim123 on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 08:52:21 PM EST

Believing that it was stolen goods and that they had therefore no costs I knew that there was much bargaining space.

If you believed that they were stolen, why would you have bought them in the first place? Stolen from a home, or from a factory, it doesn't matter. Buying stolen goods, in my opinion, is tantamount to stealing yourself. I hate to say it, but you got what you deserved, and I think the conmen who fooled you exhibited a better moral compass than you.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum

[ Parent ]
Are you sure? (2.91 / 12) (#110)
by dipipanone on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 04:57:39 AM EST

I hate to say it, but you got what you deserved, and I think the conmen who fooled you exhibited a better moral compass than you.

It isn't at all clear to me that you 'hate to say it'. On the contrary, I get a very strong sense that -- like most self-righteous people -- it actually gives you a *great* deal of pleasure and satisfaction to trot out your holier-than-thou platitudes.

I'm also fascinated by your system of moral equivalence as well. How do you measure which particular 'sin' has a greater degree in this instance? In what particular moral guidebook is this action of obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception listed as being somehow less moral than acting on the assumption that the goods that you are buying may have once been stolen property?

And does this same moral opprobium also attach to anyone who buys real estate in the USA, knowing that that land was once 'stolen' as well?

Suck my .sig
[ Parent ]
I'm sure he's more sure than you (2.60 / 5) (#115)
by mcgrew on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 06:57:53 AM EST

Depriving someone of their property is wrong by any moral code ever come up by man, or given to man by God. Even fucking athiests know stealing is wrong.

I'd like to catch the bastard that stole my killer stereo 20 years ago, and the pukes that bought it later. I'd do a little sinning of my own.

"Those who would give up, um, yada yada yada" -Anonymous Coward
[ Parent ]

heh (none / 1) (#122)
by Battle Troll on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 09:28:59 AM EST

On the contrary, I get a very strong sense that -- like most self-righteous people -- it actually gives you a *great* deal of pleasure and satisfaction to trot out your holier-than-thou platitudes.

If I say 'don't steal,' I'm self-righteous?

And does this same moral opprobium also attach to anyone who buys real estate in the USA, knowing that that land was once 'stolen' as well?

Depends. What about land in Australia, NZ, Britain (stolen from the Bretons by the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, and later from them by the Normans,) Continental Europe (stolen from the original Europeans by the Indo-Aryans,) Japan (stolen from Ainu-like tribes,) China (stolen from the 'Mountain People' by Chinese cultural expansion,) etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

I see... (none / 0) (#137)
by skim123 on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 11:25:36 AM EST

Someone who isn't afraid to stand up and say, "That is wrong," is self-righteous? How about saying that person is brave, or, at minimum, ethical? I don't think of myself as self-righteous, but since I don't hesitate to speak up when someone does something wrong - in this case, stealing - then I guess I am one self-righteous fuck by your definition.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum

[ Parent ]
Meh... (none / 0) (#142)
by jmzero on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 12:07:46 PM EST

I don't think of myself as self-righteous, but since I don't hesitate to speak up when someone does something wrong

I 100% agree with you.  And you're right to call this wrong.  

But he did sort of catch you on the "I hate to say this" part.  
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

Mea culpa (3.00 / 4) (#152)
by jim.fr on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 02:06:00 PM EST

If you believed that they were stolen, why would you have bought them in the first place? Stolen from a home, or from a factory, it doesn't matter. Buying stolen goods, in my opinion, is tantamount to stealing yourself. I hate to say it, but you got what you deserved, and I think the conmen who fooled you exhibited a better moral compass than you.

Where did you read that I believe that I did the right thing ? I reported my story factually and I did not include any moral judgement. I agree with you that buying stolen goods encourages the stealing and is therefore wrong in itself. My seven years ago self was less experienced and had a weaker moral compass... I thereby attest that all other things being equal a 28 year old has more wisdom than a 21 year old.

Good judgment comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgment... I'm much more experienced now...

[ Parent ]

Yep, I've seen this twice (in the UK) (2.85 / 7) (#78)
by mahood on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 07:07:08 PM EST

First time was in Bristol, in a car-park 'off the beaten track'. It must have been in around 92-93 - and it was exactly as described here. I was with a friend, and he seemed keen to buy, but we decided not to bother, and walked off before they got too involved.

The next time was in Guildford, on a main road. A white van screeched to a halt (I was walking) and two guys got out, offering speakers. The spiel was a little different though - they'd been to a trade fair, and they (somehow) had these speakers 'already sold, as far as the factory was concerned' so they could let me have them for next to nothing. I never did get them to explain how the factory had sold them to the trade fair organiser, but then he'd not wanted them - it sounded very suspicous to me, so I start to walk off. They produced paperwork to 'prove' that they were sold to the trade fair, and that 'I wouldn't get in trouble' because 'no-one would notice'...

Interestingly, they then admitted they were just making a fast buck - that none of the cash I handed over was going to their company or their boss, but they were going to split it between them... I must have looked amused, and they took this as a good sign, and asked how much I was willing to pay. I said I only had 10 pounds on me, so they started the 'we'll go to a cash machine with you, or we can give you a lift if you prefer' and at that point, I feared I'd wake up in an ice-filled bathtub, so I left! :)

They had gotten quite pushy though, and I was starting to feel intimidated - luckily it was on a main road through town, so I wasn't in any actual danger...

When I told this story to my friends, I heard of a similar scam with watches - again the 'trade fair' angle - they were 'samples' that were 'already sold', though why the buyer hadn't bothered to hang on to these 500 watches was never clear.

Strange that there are such similarities across continents; and this isn't a 'friend of a friend' story - it happened to me! I even have a witness for the first incident.


seen it in the UK too (none / 0) (#196)
by PigleT on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 12:49:50 PM EST

It also happens with mobile phones. Idiot in little white Astra van, pulls up as I'm strolling from a service station back across to my car, starts fumbling in his briefcase asking if he can sell me a new phone - "been at a conference, seem to have got these left over <insert waffly excuse here>". I think the words I used were `drop dead', or similar in politeness, whilst being rather tempted to yell "SCAMMER ALERT!" loudly for all to hear in the carpark... :)
~Tim -- We stood in the moonlight and the river flowed
[ Parent ]
I knew a guy who was running this scam. . . (2.57 / 7) (#80)
by Fantastic Lad on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 07:15:14 PM EST

Back in the early nineties. He actually talked a mark out of a gold heirloom necklace to help finance the wonder-speakers. He was not a particularly swell guy. Interestingly, he'd been screwed by life many times himself and was trying to return the favor. He didn't seem to recognize that the whole thing is a big ugly cycle. But anyway. . .

I was approached last year in an alley by two similar dorks in a van, and I wasn't thinking fast enough.

All I said was, "I know that scam."

To which the reply was a confusing, "My name's not Sam," and they drove off. They were obviously fishing, and shrugged me off with a degree of impatience.

If I'd been on my toes I would have commented, "Nice job you've found, there. Is this what you wanted to be when you grew up?"

Steer clear of these guys. The one I knew was self-destructive, lost and wallowing in hate and hurt. --The kind he'd share with you if you let him. I was always sort of counting the days until he exploded and took several people with him. I wonder if he ever managed to get off the Bad Karma Merry-Go-Round. . .


Be careful (none / 1) (#160)
by QuickFox on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 04:09:14 PM EST

If I'd been on my toes I would have commented, "Nice job you've found, there. Is this what you wanted to be when you grew up?"

I wouldn't say such things to people like that. They might explode in anger. Some people can get extremely aggressive.

Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
[ Parent ]

You're right. (none / 0) (#211)
by Fantastic Lad on Wed Apr 14, 2004 at 09:50:38 AM EST

I wouldn't say such things to people like that. They might explode in anger. Some people can get extremely aggressive.

This is very true, and luckily my boring, safe & effective auto-responses are usually faster on the uptake than is my desire to fling smarmy remarks.

I often live in un-interesting times of my own making. Some would call this Wisdom, but just as often I grumble that, "My Safety is Stuck in the On Position."


[ Parent ]

Hah (none / 2) (#81)
by strlen on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 07:42:10 PM EST

Had that happen to me about a year ago. I was heading out from a BofA bank/ATM in Cupertino, CA (San Jose general area, home of Apple Computer) and was approached by two guys in a van.

They told me about the story about extra set of speakers, but I declined saying that I'm not familiar enough with audio systems to make the purchase right there and then.

Seems like an interesting scam, never realized this was more than just an occasional occurance.

[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.

remember, if you call the cops.. (none / 2) (#104)
by Barbarian on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 12:19:13 AM EST

If these guys try to scam you, remember, you can call the cops and say these guys are offering "stolen property", since that is probably the story they just told you. You have no idea that they're really just shoddy speakers, as far as you are concerned these guys are trying to sell $2000 speakers that have obviously, from the high markdown, been stolen.

[ Parent ]
It's a scam, eh? (none / 2) (#82)
by skim123 on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 08:48:24 PM EST

I had this happen to me once, two guys in a van, saying they had stereo equipment "for sale." I just said, "No thanks," assuming the "merchandise" had been stolen from the factory. Kind of neat to learn that those guys were (likely) up to more than just petty theft. Anyone can steal something, it takes a bit more (admittedly, not much more) brains and balls to con someone.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum

Another white van encounter. (none / 0) (#131)
by DrEvil on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 11:11:46 AM EST

Happened to me once too. In a small town, which is the last place you might expect it. They were trying to sell me car speakers. At the time I figured they had recently stole them and were trying to unload them fast, but after reading this they were probably part of this scam.

[ Parent ]
Warning To All Ladies! (2.00 / 25) (#87)
by it certainly is on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 09:42:58 PM EST

Don't let this happen to you. TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW ABOUT THIS.



I wish I'd gotten this yesterday. I feel so stupid.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.

question: (none / 2) (#92)
by horny smurf on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 11:17:08 PM EST

so are you a lady or a guy with man-tits?

[ Parent ]
He's a guy with man-tits. (none / 1) (#107)
by qpt on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 01:27:21 AM EST

I do hope that helped.

Domine Deus, creator coeli et terrae respice humilitatem nostram.
[ Parent ]

the preferred term (none / 2) (#120)
by Battle Troll on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 09:17:50 AM EST

Is 'bitch-tits.' Don't be hurtful.
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
bitch-tits with BULLET NIPS (none / 1) (#170)
by it certainly is on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 06:57:19 PM EST

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

If he saw YOUR boobs, (3.00 / 6) (#105)
by Mr.Surly on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 01:04:04 AM EST

he was the one getting scammed.

[ Parent ]
Strip searches. (2.75 / 4) (#124)
by gzt on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 10:07:08 AM EST

Apparently, in America, there has been a scam running where a prank caller would call up the manager of a restaurant [or other store], impersonate an officer of the law, and tell him to strip search a female customer or employee corresponding to some vague description. Oddly enough, not only did some of the managers fall for it, but usually the women agreed to be searched.

[ Parent ]
happened (none / 3) (#150)
by Altus on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 01:54:00 PM EST

In massachusetts a few months ago.  there were multiple incidents in one night. all of them were at Wendys.  the caller did seem to have a very good understanding of the policies and procedures of the wendys chain

havent heard of it  happening anywere else yet though.

"In America, first you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women..." -H. Simpson
[ Parent ]

Fell for it, got my money back (3.00 / 9) (#88)
by obi on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 09:46:23 PM EST

I had this happen to me about 7 years ago - and I fell for it. It taught me something about myself - my willingless to close my eyes and overlook the provenance of the equipment, ie. my greed made me almost lose a good deal of money. A humbling experience, especially considering I thought of myself as someone who wasn't greedy at all. In my defence, I was still quite young and had never been scammed before.

I knew I was scammed the second I opened the box. Before buying I had made sure I knew what company these guys were from, so I contacted them, and after confirming that it really was a scam ("we don't have an official listprice for our product - we let our salespeople determine the price") made sure I'd get a full refund. After driving up there and confronting them, they gave me my money back without any problems (which surprised me a bit).

Apparently most of their victims were too ashamed to admit (even to themselves) they were scammed, and ask their money back. The company was just a temporary front, and apparently since the short time they were in operation the local cops had received quite a number of complaints.

In the end, I lost no money, but came out of it a bit more humble and a bit less greedy.

undoubtedly... (none / 1) (#138)
by Work on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 11:26:53 AM EST

they didnt want any trouble. Outfits like this operate on the perilous edge of legality. If one of 10 customers id scammed in a day came back complaining, id give him his money back too to hush him.

[ Parent ]
did you consider (none / 3) (#149)
by Altus on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 01:52:04 PM EST

building your own shoddy speakers an "Returning" them to the company via a series of complaints.

seems like they werent willing to deal with someone who was making confrontation the only way out of a situation... you could probably make a pretty penny.

"In America, first you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women..." -H. Simpson
[ Parent ]

Your appeal to the police... (1.75 / 8) (#90)
by My Dupe Account on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 10:37:46 PM EST

makes the Libertarian baby Jesus cry.


"Very funny, Scotty. Now beam up my clothes."
Not at all (none / 1) (#91)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 11:09:00 PM EST

If they're on private property.

jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
Like lotsa young folks (none / 1) (#114)
by mcgrew on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 06:52:23 AM EST

You confuse libertarianism for anarchy. The police are supposed to be there to protect your rights. Not that they usually are, but that's what's they're supposed to be for.

"Those who would give up, um, yada yada yada" -Anonymous Coward
[ Parent ]

Heh (none / 2) (#93)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 11:18:13 PM EST

I was in a shopping center one time, and my car was parked in front of K-Mart. As I was walking back to my car this guy walked out of the K-Mart and tried to sell me some Adidas cologne he'd just lifted. It's a good business I guess. Springfield cops are too busy getting paid overtime to guard road maintenance, they have better things to do than arrest thieves.

jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
Springfield? Hi, Bart (none / 0) (#113)
by mcgrew on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 06:50:53 AM EST

Which Springfield? We seem to have one in every state, Canada has one, Australia has one...

"Those who would give up, um, yada yada yada" -Anonymous Coward
[ Parent ]

Massachusetts (none / 1) (#121)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 09:23:29 AM EST

It isn't actually the asshole of Massachusetts, that honor belongs to Holyoke. Springfield is directly below Holyoke, it's more like the taint of Massachusetts.

jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
Adidas cologne? (none / 0) (#119)
by geesquared on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 09:13:56 AM EST

What, does it smell like old sneakers?

[ Parent ]
hah (none / 0) (#172)
by sykmind on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 07:38:48 PM EST

the same thing happened to me a few years ago. these guys had every type of cologne you could think of. i'm a salesman though, so i realized this was too good to be true. you can't bullshit a bullshitter.

[ Parent ]
Amazing (2.00 / 5) (#96)
by ShiftyStoner on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 11:24:43 PM EST

 Most people on K5 would not fall for this. I don't think so anyway.

 Most people seem to be borederline psychopaths around here. Don't really feel any sympathy for anyone. Probly couldn't kill somone but ripping people off...

 In other words, you are not preventing anyone from getting riped off. If you are it doesn't matter because your telling a bunch of psychopaths a completly legal workable scam. More harm than good is what i'm saying.

 I mean, I want to try this out of curiosity.

 I always find it funny when the news goes into detail about how people are pulling off popular scams. Like going to a car lot, taking a car for a test drive, getting copies of the keys, coming back at night and taking the car.

 Not vary many people are going to see it, chances several of the people that do will do it.  
( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler

Read "American Gods" (none / 1) (#132)
by LilDebbie on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 11:15:01 AM EST

Aside from being an excellent book, it's got a couple of great scams in it too. The best one of all is where you pretend to be a security guard taking bank deposits because the bank is reinstalling the normal drop box. You can net yourself tens of thousands in cash in one day doing this, but you have to be crafty as fuck to not get caught.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
Don't forget... (none / 2) (#163)
by Miniwheat on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 04:34:59 PM EST

Being a Norse god with magical powers will help you get away with that particular scam.

[ Parent ]
This is the kind of scam that I fall for. (none / 2) (#146)
by Fon2d2 on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 12:40:32 PM EST

Intimidation is very effective on me. If there's even a remote chance I'd buy something I'll usually continue listening to the sales pitch on the grounds that information doesn't hurt. Of course that's really just what the salesmans wants and I just have too weak a character to stop him. I have a very tough time just turning my back or changing my mind once the high pressure sales tactics have started full bore. I usually try to logic my way out of the situation. But that's exactly what they want. As long as they've got somebody who, like me, tries to avoid confrontation at all costs, it's not too difficult to make confrontation the only escape route. It's a psychological game really. If the cost isn't too high, or not fully understood, it becomes like buying your way out. At this point emotion and intuition are being completely ignored, being totally cowed by the high pressure sale, and reason is resigned to fence sitting after running in endless circles over the salesmans unverifiable claims. Of course at that point it should be a matter of trust, but trust falls under emotion and intuition, which is being ignored. So instead it's simply a matter of psychological domination. And although I may feel dirty throughout the sales pitch and maintain the power to walk away, I still have the irrational feeling of being trapped.

I'm sure there are plenty of other people out there, including K5ers, that have this same reaction to high pressure scam artists.

[ Parent ]

So strange (1.75 / 4) (#162)
by ShiftyStoner on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 04:18:50 PM EST

 It is so hard for me to understand you norms. I can hardly relate to you in anyway other than having similar bodies.

 But I supose what you say is true. I have seen, many many many times, people go threw what you described. I always took it for, stupidity, the're naive, the're ignorant, inferior intelectualy all the way around, and thus i feel no pitty for them. It didn't occur to me that they buy junk for outraguose prices because the're balles pussies. Though, people who buy products after seing it on infomercial are most certaily just stupid ignorant and naive.

 Either way, anyone who falls for a scam, deserves to. The're just so pathetic.

 Why don't you just grow some fucking balls. You should just go out and deck somone in the face right now. Regardless of wehter youl get your ass kicked or not. Just so youl stop being a fucking pussy.
( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler
[ Parent ]

I tried that once. (none / 1) (#165)
by Fon2d2 on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 05:01:39 PM EST

In college. On my roommate. Except not in the face... in the stomach. And I didn't know how to punch, so it was weak as hell, and off target. He immideately whipped out his cell phone and dialed 911. It was over a broken yo-yo. I couldn't even say for sure whether he'd done it. But that didn't matter. It was the principle of the thing. I mean how else did it break? It was obvious somebody had forcefully twisted it apart. It was no secret he hated me, so why couldn't he have done it? The yo-yo would be the opportune target. A very specific personal jab at me and an escallation of the situation to destruction of personal property. And a dare to see what I'd do since nobody else would give a shit about a yo-yo. But if I do nothing, I'm cowed, right? I'd tried to take a cue from one of the other roommates who had successfully, using only words, made him cry in the bathroom. Unfornuately I'd found that due to my being a pussy for so long my words held no power. I was literally at a loss, so I punched him. And so the policeman came and began being the arbiter. Do you know how degrading it was sitting there explaining to the policeman how I'd "assualted" this guy 'cause he'd "broken my yo-yo". Well of course the real issues started coming out about his fat and insecure live-in girlfriend being attracted to me instead of him. Or at least that issue came up, with much misinformation for the policeman. There was also his complete inability to get along with other people and his bringing drugs into the apartment against the rules we'd established at the beginning of the year (which of course he denied ever being established). But at any rate, I didn't mention the drugs, and the rest of us secretly decided to hold it as a back up if he decided to charge me with assault. Well thank God he didn't, and instead he decided to move out. That was a very akward day the day I walked in and saw his parents there helping him pack. But then, after that, for the last five weeks, I got the room to myself, and my other roommates were happy with the situation too. So I guess it worked out in the end. Except that the incident also got reported in the Crime Beat section of the student newspaper. They didn't mention my name, and they got a couple of the facts wrong, but everybody knew it was me. And from that day on, although thankfully "Fon2d2" beat it out, I was known as "yo-yo man".

[ Parent ]
Yo-yo man. (none / 3) (#174)
by ShiftyStoner on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 08:49:18 PM EST

 You got fame. You got your annoying fuckhead roomate out of there, and his fat discusting woman. You got yourself a bunch of great memories. Probly would have been an ordinary old day that you wouldn't fucking remember a year from then ordinarly. Got the place to yourself. I'm sure pride from standing up for yourself, then having the sisies sissy ways backfire in his face.

 The only problem was your sissy way of thinking. Being all embarased and shit. Fuck all that. If i get in the paper it's a good line to start up a conversation with bitches. You see the story in paper about the guy who wooped the other guys ass over breaking his yo yo. Yeah I beat the guy silly, it was a matter of principle, you know. Hey you wana fuck? The last part will probly get you need in the balls but know what i mean?

 How could you not recomend this to every nerd out there, everyone. An asswooping is not nearly as horrible as the fear of it. Confrontation is not nearly as horrible as the fear of it. Kicking somones ass, expecialy when you think you're gana lose, 3rd greatest feeling in the world.

 Everyone should go out and sock somone up right now for no reason at all. Other than kicking some ass or concering the fear of getting your ass kicked.

 If you live the right way it's amazing how fucking great shit will turn out. Which is, fearing nothing, acting however the fuck you want to act, never getting embarased about anything, and always standing up for what you believe in.

 Three years of my life were destroyed by trying to act like a norm. 3 years in and out of jail, probation. Not to mention feeling like a fucking dosh bag for alowing myself to be a slave, slave for the people i hate more than wnything else. All because I tried to do what I was told, didn't stand up for what I believe in, didn't do whatever I wanted. Lost all my integrity. Can't even tell you how great it felt to tell the world to fuck off and start living how everyone should.

 Sure if they ever catch me I've got 2 years over my head. I've got cash and a lawer now. Wont sit there like a jackass and let them do whatever the fuck they want with me. If anything, I'll run again.
( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler
[ Parent ]

You are of course absolutely right (none / 2) (#193)
by Fon2d2 on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 10:53:21 AM EST

Three years though? That's all your bitching about? Jesus, norms like me have wasted far more time than that. I already concluded the things you say a long time ago. And I've been working on it, but it's so easy to slip back. I don't know why we're all raised like pussies in this society, but I sure see a lot of it in other people as well. But you're right. I'm sick of being a fucking norm. Thanks for the ass-whooping talk. I needed it.

You even bite-sized the correct way to live into four guiding principles:

  • Fear Nothing
  • Act How I Want
  • Stop Feeling Embarrassed
  • Stand Up For Myself
I like it! Thanks.

[ Parent ]
Not me (none / 0) (#164)
by Cro Magnon on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 04:55:51 PM EST

High-pressure tactics backfire on me. The funny thing is, I LOOK like a potential target. I'm usually a low-key person who avoids hassle. But I also have an ornery streak, and if someone's trying to push me around, that triggers it.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
I've seen this so many times I loose count... (none / 2) (#102)
by grokmiskatonic on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 11:47:35 PM EST

I live in the DC/Baltimore area, and I've seen these guys in the white van, and heard their pitch lots of times. Sometimes stopped in traffic, sometimes coming out of best buy, or some other store. One day I even ran into them twice! Luckly I have no interest in home stereo stuff, or I might have listened for more than a few seconds.

Almost got done. (none / 2) (#118)
by Wulfius on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 08:26:36 AM EST

Bloody hell. I remember this scam pulled on me in Australia around 6 years ago.

Guy in a white van tried to flag me down in the City at the lights, telling me this story about speakers for sale.

Just as well I had deep reservations about buyig anything from the back of the truck (hence the expression). Besides the guy looked dodgy.

Trust your instincts :D

"We must believe in free will, we have no choice."
http://wulfspawprints.blogspot.com/ - Not a journal dammit!

WOW! this happens way too often.... (none / 3) (#126)
by zerocommazero on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 10:22:39 AM EST

I've had a similar experience. But my mommie always told me that no one would sell quality speakers out of a van, in a parking lot of a department store, not wearing a uniform, without first offering you candy. So I said NO! to them guys....I feel NO sympathy for anyone who falls for this scam. Great deal or not something has to ring off alarm bells in your head as soon as a van with several guys pull up to you in a parking lot.
"I have a few truths for the men in this audience. It's your fault for all the violence in this country and it's your fault for all the crime in this country."-Peter Griffin at the Million Man March
Don't mean to be rude... (2.14 / 7) (#127)
by clarkcox3 on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 10:25:41 AM EST

...but anyone dumb enough to fall for such a scam deserves what they get.

If the scam is really so ingenious that no one could be expected to see through it, then sure, I'd feel sorry for the victim. But if the scam is as transparent as this one, then I have absolutely zero sympathy for the "victims".

I can't imagine the thought process of someone who is convinced to buy something by a total stranger in a van, against which they have no possible recourse. If this scam is truly as widespread as this story makes it seem, then I weep for humanity

depends on who you target (none / 1) (#140)
by Work on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 11:32:46 AM EST

its generally better to target marks who have experience buying things 'off the back of a truck' - of which there are many legitimate businesses that do that. Snap-on tools, Matco Tools, swanson foods and several others still do it. Just about any mechanic certainly has bought something off the back of a tool truck. People in lower income brackets often sell and buy everything from tacos to building materials out of a truck. Hell, Sam Walton's first "Wal-Mart" was in fact, his truck.

So if you have a white van with stick on official looking graphics, and a couple guys in uniformesque clothing, its not too difficult to see someone falling for it.

[ Parent ]

Hello? (none / 1) (#175)
by awgsilyari on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 08:56:48 PM EST

I've encountered the guys in the white van numerous times. I knew it was a scam. I still find the article very interesting because it explains how the scam actually works, which was something I was never able to deduce on my own.

I really don't think the author wrote the story to save a bunch of idiots from their own stupidity. He wrote it because it's interesting.

If this scam is truly as widespread as this story makes it seem, then I weep for humanity

If you are shocked at the stupidity of humanity, I weep for you.

Please direct SPAM to john@neuralnw.com
[ Parent ]

believe it (none / 1) (#188)
by pod on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 03:24:22 AM EST

I heard of this scam a while back. I knew it must have been a scam, and was thinking about how it worked. I came up with pretty much the same thing as the article, but I thought, no way, could never work, how dumb can you get? You're literally being convinced to buy stuff off the back of the proverbial truck.

But I agree with your last statement. If you're shocked this scam actually works, I do weep for you.

[ Parent ]

Evolution In Action (none / 0) (#233)
by SEWilco on Thu Apr 22, 2004 at 01:24:22 PM EST

It's not that people are stupid, it's that the scammers make themselves believable to enough people.

When not enough people think the scammers are believable, the scammers make themselves more believable. That is why they are using uniforms, cards, brochures, etc.

An armed society has polite speaker sellers in white vans.

[ Parent ]

Hmm... (1.21 / 14) (#135)
by LilDebbie on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 11:23:54 AM EST

Story about a scam that's older than dirt. Check.
Obviously skipped the Edit Queue as evidenced by the numerous and obvious spelling and grammatical errors. Check.
Appeals to the sympathies of dumbass kurons who know nothing beyond their computer. Check.

Yep, looks like Front Page material to me.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

What in the hell are you talking about? (none / 0) (#221)
by Kax on Thu Apr 15, 2004 at 01:29:10 PM EST

Story about a scam that's older than dirt.

The fact that the scam continues to be around is pretty good evidence that some people haven't heard of it before, right?

Obviously skipped the Edit Queue as evidenced by the numerous and obvious spelling and grammatical errors.

Yeah, but who cares, right?

Appeals to the sympathies of dumbass kurons who know nothing beyond their computer.

Like the kind of people who use slang like 'kurons', right?

But even disregarding the perfectly valid personal attack on your sad ass, what sympathies does a typical 'dumbass kuron' have that makes a story about being ripped off on audio equipment appeal to them?

Thou dost protest too much.

[ Parent ]

Why is this on the front page? [n/t] (1.10 / 10) (#141)
by mr strange on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 11:52:35 AM EST

intrigued by your idea that fascism is feminine - livus
For the same reason... (none / 2) (#182)
by Wulfius on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 01:24:37 AM EST

...than an illiterate is the president of the USA.

Its called 'Democracy'. Look it up :)

"We must believe in free will, we have no choice."
http://wulfspawprints.blogspot.com/ - Not a journal dammit!
[ Parent ]

Been going on a long time.... (none / 2) (#148)
by nne3jxc on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 01:44:58 PM EST

I remember being approached in about 1984 at the Methuen Mall. (Methuen, Massachusetts)
Same thing -- a van-load of speakers and some story about having too much inventory. I remember thinking, "WTF? If they're good speakers why are you in a MALL parking lot trying to sell them....?")

some specifics on how bad these are (3.00 / 6) (#151)
by shrubbery on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 01:58:44 PM EST

Some of these cheap speakers look nice but they are really aweful. I hang out at the audio and home theater forums alot and one of these White Van scams approached an owner of a boutique DIY speaker company. He literally laughed his ass off. He posted some measurements for the "Digital Audio Titan Line 3810SL" speakers. Take a look at the response plot. Its bad.. really bad.


Here's a link to the original thread over at Home Theater Forums talking about this scam.


ha! happened to me. (none / 3) (#153)
by RelliK on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 02:10:59 PM EST

When I was in university I had this happen to me, twice. I was walking home one day, when one guy in a van, stopped at the intersection, offered to sell me speakers. I said no, and that was the end of it. About 6 months later I saw the same guy on the same intersection in possibly the same van offering to sell me speakers again, to which I also said no. I had no idea this was a scam. I just thought it was some dumbass trying to get rid of his junk. He didn't try to intimidate me or anything, but I thought it was odd for a guy to ride around in a van asking people to buy speakers. My Question is: does this scam really work? I didn't need speakers, but even if I did, why the fuck would I want to buy them from some guy in a van I'd never seen before?
Under capitalism man exploits man, under communism it's just the opposite.
They tried this with me (none / 3) (#154)
by sherbang on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 02:11:59 PM EST

Waved me over at a stoplight. Told me some story about they were stereo installers from some local company and they tried to deliver this setup and the customer refused it.  I think it was a complete surround sound system.  They tried to tell me that they can't bring the system back with them for whatever reason and just have to sell them now. Of course by this point my bullshit detector is telling me there's something really not right with this whole thing and I just start saying no and drive away really confused.
Now I know what the deal was.
This was in Agawam, MA about a year ago.
White van 2 guys, don't remember much else.

The way the guy originally started talking I thought he was trying to _give_ them away.

I knew a guy who did this (none / 3) (#155)
by kidzatrisc on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 02:39:25 PM EST

I knew a guy when I was in high school who did this. He was/is a fairly amoral individual, equally at home washing dishes as say, stealing from starving children. His MO was just like the article says, but apparently he wasn't very good at it, not pushy enough to excel at scamming people. They would sometimes trade people's cell phones or jewlery for the speakers. The company eventually moved him to DC. Apparently the headquarters was very hip and full of cool toys. When he descriped it I kind of pictured the bad guy's lair in Teenage Mutent Ninja Turtles. Anyway, he eventually got fired for sucking. Now he works for a company disconnecting people's phones for non-payment.

Same situation only speakers for free? (none / 2) (#161)
by Rojareyn on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 04:18:13 PM EST

I was approached in a Northern Virginia strip mall in much the same manner. Same M.O. Non-descript white van. Two young guys. Selling speakers. The only thing is that I remember they offered the speakers to me for free. I turned them down for a number of reasons:
  1. It sounded too good to be true
  2. Why wouldn't they simply keep the speakers, unless they were broken or of inferior quality.
  3. I suspected the speakers were stolen and they were trying to offload them before they got caught red-handed.
This article definitely shed some light! I was always curious about that incident.

Oh Man! (none / 0) (#210)
by loveaxelrod on Wed Apr 14, 2004 at 08:47:40 AM EST

You're onto a win-win and you turn it down!. Never look a gift horse in the mouth, they were free, what could you lose, apart from your free speakers?
He's got his eye on the gold chain, that the next man's wearing
[ Parent ]
Speakers (none / 0) (#231)
by Rojareyn on Tue Apr 20, 2004 at 04:37:34 PM EST

Re-read my arguments. Number 3 is applicable here. Also, this may also have been a classic bait-n-switch type arrangement...

[ Parent ]
I like that. (2.16 / 6) (#167)
by jope on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 05:26:22 PM EST

Anybody falling for this is so pathetically dumb that he deserves to get punished. These guys have more creativity and energy than any of the suckers who give them their money will ever have. Now lets relax and play this easy card game: I will shuffle these three cards - just remember where the ace of spades is and you will win back double your bet!

And buy my bridge. (NT) (none / 0) (#191)
by craigd on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 07:27:01 AM EST

A man who says little is a man who speaks two syllables.
[ Parent ]
Nothing new. (2.50 / 8) (#171)
by the77x42 on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 07:04:37 PM EST

Companies scam consumers exactly like this on basically every product. Ever get a sound demo at Future Shop or Best Buy? Why don't you ever buy the first model they show you, always the second?

Sales is fraud.

I am interested in why it seems to always be audio equipment. Maybe it's because people think they are experts with their senses and must know audio equipment. Kind of like those people who think CD's sound better than vinyl played on decent turntables. Also noted below are scams involving paintings... hrmm...

When my friend and I were in our early teens and had just gotten our parents' cars handed down to us. The first thing we thought of was getting a system installed for our "awesome" music. This local store had an old man as the clerk. Everyone knew him. Buy any amp in the store, and you could return it when you wanted to upgrade and he would give you a new one less the original amount you paid. I had more than a couple friends do this and they all got good deals. It actually was legit.

So we bought these pretty cheap amps that didn't sound great, but were incredibly loud and did the job for the $200 we paid for them. The guy even admitted they were cheap. No worries, we could return them for full price to upgrade.

One year later we went in and some pencilneck sleazeball was working the counter. You could tell this guy paid for hookers. He just laughed at us. "That old guy wasn't the owner, he was an employee! Lots of you kids thought he was the owner." When we asked about returning them he said, "I have a whole closet full of those fucking things after what that old man did! You guys are stuck with them."

Who knows if this guy was lying. He probably was to some extent, but I still found it amusing that the old guy probably was fucking over his asshole boss. :)

Anyway, the point beyond my little story is that you are basically going to get ripped off for 99% of the goods you buy. Gas, cheese, bottled water, software... it's all just one big capitalist scam.

"We're not here to educate. We're here to point and laugh." - creature
"You have some pretty stupid ideas." - indubitable ‮

Vinyl (none / 0) (#180)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 12:43:58 AM EST

Kind of like those people who think CD's sound better than vinyl played on decent turntables.

Compared to all but the best turntables, they do sound better.

jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]

wha? (none / 3) (#186)
by kalin on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 02:11:31 AM EST

Anyway, the point beyond my little story is that you are basically going to get ripped off for 99% of the goods you buy.

Isn't this backwards (and hyperbolically silly besides)?  It seems that your story is about ripping off a business, and being pissed off when you aren't able to get more than what you paid for.  You call someone else a scammer for foiling your scam.  You've got some seriously fucked up morals.

Are you only obligated to be fair to people you like, and since the pencilneck is a "sleazeball" he deserves to be ripped off.  The old guy was "nice" so it's ok that he was ripping off his employer?

Steal from everyone but your friends?

Do you ever imagine that your life is pretty long and you could end up being friends with a lot of different sorts of people, or friends with members of thier families, or maybe own a business?

Someday maybe you'll realize that every action we take has an effect on our immediate surroundings and resonates out over society.  Then you'll understand the joy of mutually beneficial transactions between consenting adults, and capitalism.

To quote the bard of the East Bay (Jello Biafra--though he'd hate me for doing it in this context), "It's easy not to base our lives on how much we can scam."

[ Parent ]

reply (none / 1) (#215)
by the77x42 on Wed Apr 14, 2004 at 09:08:24 PM EST

You've got some seriously fucked up morals.

Yes, yes I do.

"We're not here to educate. We're here to point and laugh." - creature
"You have some pretty stupid ideas." - indubitable ‮

[ Parent ]

Loser (none / 2) (#220)
by Kax on Thu Apr 15, 2004 at 01:17:24 PM EST


[ Parent ]
Another scam with the same twist (3.00 / 4) (#173)
by christiansimon on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 08:06:03 PM EST

I have been approached by the white van guys. It's an intimidating experience when you're traveling and in an unfamiliar city. Part of the power of their sales pitch is the percieved physical threat.

Another scam I have avoided was the dent repair scam. My car had a dent on the door from a parking lot accident. While going into a dinner, I was approached by two guys --on more then one occasion-- to have the dent repaired while I ate! There was definately an agressive character to the sales pitch and the attitude was that they are giving me such a great deal that I'm practically insulting them if I refuse.

This scam is also about the buyer not being fully informed. While they can repair the dent, they do not paint the car. If they muck up the job, you'll have a fight if you decide not to pay.

Actually, this is an organised scam (none / 3) (#176)
by Stavr0 on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 09:54:55 PM EST

- - -
Pax Americana : Oderint Dum Metuant
brisbane, australia (none / 2) (#177)
by Fuzzwah on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 10:17:09 PM EST

It must be about 2 years ago now, but I was approached by two guys in a white van selling "extra" speakers, while stopped at a red light. I told them I wasn't interested but did go home kind of pondering whether I'd just missed out on a great deal.

In the end though, as the author of this article finished with, I concluded that if it seemed too good to be true that it probably was.

The best a human can do is to pick a delusion that helps him get through the day. - God's Debris

Whoa (1.62 / 8) (#178)
by theElectron on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 11:32:51 PM EST

If you say you don't have cash, they'll helpfully offer to follow you to the nearest ATM(why anyone in their right mind would allow themselves to be followed to an ATM is beyond me). If you're about to walk away, they'll get in your face, ask what price you would pay

You offer to walk me to an ATM and I'll offer to call you an ambulance. Virginia is a concealed-carry state and my .45 is going to leave a hole in your front pocket that no amount of ill-gotten cash is ever gonna fill.

Join the NRA!

Passive Aggressive Rednecks (none / 2) (#199)
by BuddasEvilTwin on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 05:21:32 PM EST

  Why is it that every redneck has to pretend they'd kick/shoot that guy's ass if approached by a high-pressure salesman?  (This is why I left the South)

  High-pressure salesmen are easy to handle if you understand the basic rules of doing business. If you feel you have to resort to violence to handle them then you're making it pretty clear you already feel like a sucker.

  Have some grace.

[ Parent ]

Oh come now (none / 1) (#214)
by theElectron on Wed Apr 14, 2004 at 12:21:01 PM EST

Anyone who waives his weapon around whenever he feels hassled is going to go to jail pretty quickly. The focus of my argument was the offer to "walk me to the ATM," which is an overtly threatening statement. This in and of itself is of course no cause for immediate violence, but it would no doubt put anyone carrying a concealed weapon into a higher state of readiness.

I think it's unfair to characterize those who lawfully carry concealed weapons as violence-prone rednecks. A firearm is probably one of the worst ways to solve a problem, but there do exist unfortunate eventualities in which a firearm remains the only effective solution. Once again, I would reiterate that being hassled by a pushy salesman is not one of these eventualities, but in the case of an overt threat all parties involved should consider the role that an armed citizen may play in curtailing violent or threatening forcible coercion.

And with respect to your departure from the land of Dixie: good riddance, asshole.

Join the NRA!
[ Parent ]

Right, you were just talking hypothetically (none / 3) (#216)
by BuddasEvilTwin on Thu Apr 15, 2004 at 12:23:32 AM EST

I think it's unfair to characterize those who lawfully carry concealed weapons as violence-prone rednecks.

I absolutely agree, which is why I never characterized those who lawfully carry concealed weapons as violence-prone rednecks.

I too, am a member of the NRA.

You offer to walk me to an ATM and I'll offer to call you an ambulance. Virginia is a concealed-carry state and my .45 is going to leave a hole in your front pocket that no amount of ill-gotten cash is ever gonna fill.

THAT is what I would characterize as a violence-prone redneck.  Oh right, you weren't talking big, you were just demonstrating what a "crazy guy" might say and do.

And with respect to your departure from the land of Dixie: good riddance, asshole.

That's not fair.  Just because I was assertive enough to point out the stupidity of your "hypothetical" statement doesn't warrant you calling me an asshole.

It just occured to me.  If you were just talking hypothetically about some crazy guy, why are you so sensitive about my remarks if they don't apply to you?

(Notice how I didn't resort to flip-flopping, name calling, preaching the obvious, playing silly semantics, etc.)

[ Parent ]

Fascinating (3.00 / 4) (#181)
by NFW on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 12:49:47 AM EST

I've heard of this once or twice before but never gave it much thought (other than, "yeah, scams happen"). This finally got me a bit curious, and google led me to this page.

About halfway down is a first-person account from someone who worked (very briefly) for a local franchise. Further down is a surprisingly long list of companies involved in the scam.

Choice quotes: "something to sit on while listening to your speakers."

"Their despicable tactics have to catch up with them sooner or later. I wonder if they have medical coverage for their employees selling this junk. When I went to the warehouse for a refund they were unloading a tractor trailer load of these pieces of crap."

Got birds?

people need to learn to say no (2.00 / 7) (#183)
by spiritraveller on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 01:36:40 AM EST

All it takes is a simple, "get the fuck away from me before I blow your brains out you worthless piece of shit con man!" ... to get them off your back.

Don't buy anything out of van (2.50 / 4) (#185)
by Belgand on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 01:56:23 AM EST

Seriously. It's either stolen, shady, a scam, or somehow illegal. I mean, honestly, where do you think these sorts of things come from? Just don't, don't stop, don't talk to these sorts of people, don't even walk on the same side of the street as them. Just keep on going and leave them the fuck alone.

To reiterate: never, ever, ever buy anything out of van, off the back of a truck, from a guy on the street, directly out of a warehouse, etc.

Exception (none / 1) (#228)
by Korimyr the Rat on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 10:28:26 AM EST

I bought some pretty damn good tamales out of the back of a truck in a Wal-Mart parking lot a few months ago.

Cost me more than making them myself, but less than a restaurant would have hosed me for, and they were still hot and delicious.

"Specialization is for insects." Robert Heinlein
Founding Member of 'Retarded Monkeys Against the Restriction of Weapons Privileges'
[ Parent ]

This boggles the mind. (2.00 / 5) (#187)
by finality on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 03:17:11 AM EST

I knew the average intellect of people other than me was low, but the fact that this kind of thing can be successful leads me to believe that the average man-in-the-street is in fact staggeringly retarded.

I don't even purchase my illegal drugs from random people in the street, and this is a field where one expects chicanery from vendors. Would you purchase a computer from a man who shouted at you from the next car over at a traffic light? Would you purchase remote virtual hosting from somebody on the side of the road? I expected the average kuro5hiner to have more than a little common sense, but the fact that this story needs to be on the front page astounds me.
This account has been anonymised. If you can give a good reason why, email rusty@kuro5hin.org, as he is obviously lacking one.

You could look at it that way... (none / 0) (#198)
by der on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 01:24:20 PM EST

... but it's not like everyone who buys crap like this is getting screwed.

My roomate, coincidentally, got a really sweet set of speakers for almost nothing, in a situation almost identical to this.

[ Parent ]
A Similar Scam Used Against Old People (3.00 / 5) (#194)
by Fantt on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 12:05:54 PM EST

My parents live in a neighborhood of mostly retired people. While I was visiting, a plain white van pulled up and two pretty scary looking white guys got out and rang their door bell. My mom answered the door and they gave the same spiel mentioned in the article, but they're selling "extra" furniture instead of speakers. Seems they were to deliver the furniture to some little old lady's house, but she died, and now they have a truck full of furniture that's already been paid for, but they don't want to take it back to the warehouse. They offered my mom a really sweet deal on some brand new furniture. Fortunately she had the sense to say no, but she had to say no three or four times to get the guys to go away. We watched them leave and approach the house next door. My mother-in-law who lives in Sun City (near Phoenix, AZ) says that this scam is very prevalent through their neighborhoods. There really are old people that die out there every day and there are lots of bargains at estate sales and whatnot. These scammers take advantage of that fact and probably make a killing. There are a LOT of retiree neighborhoods near here.

I used to buy shit off of trucks all of the time (none / 3) (#195)
by mrcsparker on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 12:17:55 PM EST

When I worked near a port I bought a ton of boxed appliances off of backs of trucks.  Of course, they were made by reputable companies and I never asked if the items fell out or were taken out of a container.  This was years ago, but I can prtty much guarantee in any city that has a major port this is going on.

I have also purchased things like tools from crack heads at gas stations.  It is pretty sad to see a guy hand over his set of tools for $5, but I also knew that the tools would go to someone else if I did not buy them.  I even purchased some really nice wrenches from one guy who ran out of gas for a few dollars.

Areas like ports are pretty contained areas, though.  People running scams generally stay away, as many of the potential customers have little to lose.  Plus, the people that sell things on the backs of trucks are always the same people and want to keep the customers happy.

I have been approached by a ton of people trying to scam me.  This usually happens when I am alone and in a nicer area (but not a great area) - usually in the parking lot of a large generic store.

Shit yeah. (none / 0) (#232)
by traphicone on Thu Apr 22, 2004 at 04:10:14 AM EST

The best two dollars I ever spent was on a Mini Maglite some bum tried to sell me as I gave him a ride a few blocks down the street. The thing was in its original packaging, and I'm sure it was fresh from the rack of the K-Mart across the way, but... I mean, what can you do?

"Generally it's a bad idea to try to correct someone's worldview if you want to remain on good terms with them, no matter how skewed it may be." --Delirium
[ Parent ]
They were all stolen, you fool. (none / 0) (#237)
by titzandkunt on Sun Jul 11, 2004 at 07:28:28 PM EST

"I have also purchased things like tools from crack heads at gas stations. It is pretty sad to see a guy hand over his set of tools for $5, but I also knew that the tools would go to someone else if I did not buy them. I even purchased some really nice wrenches from one guy who ran out of gas for a few dollars."

Are you really this stoopid? All this stuff you described buying is STOLEN.

Fine, go ahead and get your junkie discount, but when something of yours gets jacked don't fucking whine.

Of course, you'll likely just up the purchase price and scam the insurance.

[ Parent ]
Painful memory (none / 2) (#197)
by lurker4hire on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 01:23:34 PM EST

... thanks for reminding me :(

Dec 31st, 1999: Wallet full of cash 'just in case' and I was moving into a new apt! Unpacking from our truck into new apt, when approached with this scam... Scammers weren't especially pushy, and I did feel proud of bargaining them down to a low low price, until as they were driving away my roommate came running out with "you didn't just buy speakers did you?". Seems he was suckered on this one when he was younger (he's 5 years older than me, I was 21).

Learnt a valuable lesson on that one... bout a $150 lesson, could of been much worse (scammers started at $750).

The speakers did work, but they were crappy. Left them in an alley near our apt, they were gone the next day... someone got them for what they were worth.

Was on This American Life (none / 1) (#200)
by coljac on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 07:56:00 PM EST

NPR's "This American Life" did an episode called suckers. One of the parts (2) was about a guy who fell for this scam and then ran into the same guys 11 years later. It was interesting listening. It's available in RealAudio here:

Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey

The White Man is at it again. (1.85 / 7) (#202)
by ninja rmg on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 11:33:47 PM EST

Once again, the White Man rears his ugly head. When he isn't busy killing and raping the orient, he's exploiting the simple, trusting nature of the working man. With characteristic, demonic cunning, he swindles the poor young man born of earth and sweat out of even the pittance he earns working the fields.

Once again, the White Man shows himself for what he is. Whether he is swindling the poor, killing Iraqi children, or lynching defenseless negroes, his nature is clear: He is the Great White Satan. Likewise, our course is clear: We must kill, kill, kill the White Man.

'Van', you idiot. (none / 2) (#203)
by it certainly is on Wed Apr 14, 2004 at 01:09:49 AM EST


kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

A simple typo, I assure you. (3.00 / 4) (#204)
by ninja rmg on Wed Apr 14, 2004 at 01:16:34 AM EST

Simply read the word "Man" as "Van." The underlying meaning remains unchanged.

[ Parent ]
OK, so how do we kill the white van, then? (none / 1) (#209)
by it certainly is on Wed Apr 14, 2004 at 08:02:46 AM EST

Do we swap the stickers on the diesel and petrol pumps? Tacks on the road? No, these will not work. The White Van is indestructible, especially if it's driven by White Van Man while he's reading his copy of The Sun.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

Yeah... (none / 0) (#205)
by Eater on Wed Apr 14, 2004 at 03:56:48 AM EST

But the White Man sure is cheap to rent!


[ Parent ]
Oohh transatlantic crap-scammery (none / 1) (#206)
by Hairy Hippy on Wed Apr 14, 2004 at 05:49:17 AM EST

Some guys tried this on me up in Lancaster (UK) a few years ago. Obviously I told thedm to get lost but interesting that this is a global thing..

"A subversive is anyone who can out-argue their government..."
I used to get this all the time in London (none / 2) (#207)
by nebbish on Wed Apr 14, 2004 at 06:14:05 AM EST

To the point where every time a van stopped and someone leant out of the window I'd say "No I don't want any fucking speakers". You should have seen the look on their faces.

Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee

Probably (none / 0) (#219)
by Kax on Thu Apr 15, 2004 at 01:08:23 PM EST

in your attempt to be cute, you confused the hell out of a couple of random people who just wanted to ask you for some directions.

[ Parent ]
White Van Men don't ask for directions. (none / 0) (#224)
by it certainly is on Fri Apr 16, 2004 at 04:37:11 AM EST

Are you British? If you were, you'd know that no White Van Man, as master of the road, would ever ask for directions.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

Happened to me (none / 1) (#212)
by dcturner on Wed Apr 14, 2004 at 09:50:53 AM EST

Twice. I am a student. I dress like a student. I do not look like i am rich. I don't even look like I am likely to buy audio equipment, quality or otherwise. I don't understand.

Incidentally, there's nothing wrong with paper speaker cones. Just don't spill drinks on them.

Remove the opinion on spam to reply.

happened in denmark (none / 1) (#217)
by pantagruel on Thu Apr 15, 2004 at 06:58:37 AM EST

had a couple guys try it, claimed that they had been making a big delivery from germany and they had some left overs so they wanted to make a little bit of extra cash. which is a little different in that they were in fact claiming to be ripping off their employer.

Out of curiosity - from a Dane (none / 0) (#225)
by nissepelle on Fri Apr 16, 2004 at 09:13:10 AM EST

Where in Denmark did this happen? Were the sellers Danish or German? -- This is not a signature

[ Parent ]
where (none / 0) (#229)
by pantagruel on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 10:37:13 AM EST

in copenhagen, right near the lakes in the center. I don't think they were danish or german, the accent wasn't a german one, they spoke english when they stopped to talk to me IIRC, although I can't be sure about that as this happened several years ago.

[ Parent ]
Happened to me (none / 1) (#223)
by billt on Thu Apr 15, 2004 at 09:31:50 PM EST

once... i was eating my lunch in a parking lot and about to lean back to take a snooze when suddenly some jerk was yelling at me in Dudespeak. I told him I was on my lunch break and to come backin about 45 minutes after my nap. He never came back...

I had a friend... (none / 1) (#226)
by Flave on Fri Apr 16, 2004 at 04:25:47 PM EST

... who worked at a fruit-stand in an open-air market call me and tell me to HURRY, and I mean HURRY, to the market RIGHT AWAY. These guys in a white van were selling high-end speakers for a TENTH of their price and they weren't going to stick around for very long. So I asked him for the speaker brand name and did a web search. Which quickly brought up all sorts of info on this scam. He still blushes when we talk of this.

One week after reading about this... (none / 1) (#227)
by Tau Neutrino on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 10:05:40 AM EST

It happened to me in a CVS parking lot in Ann Arbor. Late-model, unmarked white van, asian woman driving and talking, goon riding shotgun.

Luckily, I had been forewarned (and was in a real don't-mess-with-me mood anyway). I said No and kept walking.

Had I been in a better mood at the time, I probably would have messed with them: "Hey I know all about you guys! I work for the Ann Arbor News, and everybody in the newsroom talks about you guys all the time! Can I take your picture?"

Or something like that.

Theater is life, cinema is art, television is furniture.
London (none / 3) (#230)
by akadruid on Mon Apr 19, 2004 at 11:24:08 AM EST

London is practically the world capital for this scam, and some areas are inundated with it. I've had it when walking through Mayfair some 6 or 7 years ago, before I had heard of it happening. Fortunatly I said no, but it took 3 attempts to get rid of them. Another one to watch out for is 'private auctions' where people pick up 'end-of-line' stock for amazing deals. Some friends of mine paid 2 just to get into one of these, and were so impressed by the people around them picking up wide-screen televisions for a tenth of the retail price that they handed over 20 each for sealed, unlabeled 'suprise' boxes. Even after discovering the contents of the boxes were hair clippers worth just a few pounds even at a respectable outlet, they were keen to attend the next auction to be held nearby a week later. Needless to say, there was no auction the following week, and the event recieved some small coverage in the local paper. I would estimate that the 4 or 5 people running this scam took home in excess of 2000 profit in just a couple of hours. Sickening how people will fall for these things.

Scammed the Scammer (none / 0) (#238)
by effluvial on Wed Aug 11, 2004 at 12:44:49 AM EST

I'd encountered these guys a few times way back in the 80's and had a feeling it was a scam. I then encountered them again in 1999, in San Francisco. It was one guy, white van, etc. He asked me if I wanted some speakers. Again, feeling it was a scam, I asked him if he was just giving them away and, to my surprise, he said yes. We unloaded them from the van and then he asked for a $50 "donation". I didn't have $50 on me but he let me have them anyway after I gave him my cell phone number...I said I'd pay him in a public place. Anyway, he called a couple of times and I named a couple of very public places, but he'd never agree on the time and place. Then, he just stopped calling. For free, the Acoustic Response speakers aren't bad if you're just using them as TV speakers.

Jerkies (none / 0) (#239)
by trashpicker on Fri Nov 19, 2004 at 10:23:00 AM EST

I worked a job for 3 summers that put me in convenience store parking lots every day promoting products. I saw this scam constantly. Fortunately I knew it was a scam so I never fell for it but that didn't stop the guys from tryng again and again. I eventually got so fed up that I started saying "I bought speakers from you last week!"

The Great International White Van Speaker Scam | 239 comments (223 topical, 16 editorial, 3 hidden)
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