In NY, 42nd street was famous for making the swap in the electronics shops and their policy was No Returns Accepted (and no credit cards). I'm not sure if this is the case today, but in the digital age, it would seem a folly given that any missteps in the face of consumers would end up on the web before you could type out Yelp!
But in this last case of camera swapping, I had heard the tale many times before, but I finally met someone who had succumbed to the wily ways of the streetwise savvy swindler. These guys aren't just small-time crooks, they're darn good actors besides. Because their elaborate thievery has them convincing their target that they know the family, the kids, and all kinds of personal details. The only thing that can trip them up, especially in a country of single children, is that they only stand a 50/50 chance when first approaching their mark to guess that the person has a son over a daughter, or a child at all. But, it's a miniscule margin of error in order to rake in hundreds on every single transaction. And besides, I'm sure they've figured out a cover story for every sort of mishap they came across. They're so smooth that they even get the prey to thank them for their trouble besides.
How I ended up with a fabulous baby gift for burgeoning photographers...
|Taken all together, it looks fairly real - but the weight should |
give it away immediately as a scam
|This is my favorite part|
|Baby can play as hard as he wants at becoming the next|
Man Ray... Even the lens is plastic
"Oh-how are you doing? What luck! I've not been able to get ahold of your son and I have the camera he wanted!"
"You mean, Francesco? I don't know what you're talking about!"
"You see, Francesco put a downpayment on this camera (takes it out of the bag). But, he still owes me 160 euro. Perhaps you could pay me and get the money from him, instead of me trying to reach him again and again."
"I don't have that kind of money, and (growing suspicious) besides, how do I know that it's my son you're talking about?"
"Well, why don't you give him a call? If you ring him, I can tell him I have the camera, I ran into you, and then we're squared away, okay?"
Fumbling for the phone, and feeling a bit uncertain (you know, when that sixth sense we all love to ignore kicks in)
Dials the number.
Upon hearing a responce, he says, "I have your friend here who says he's got the camera for you -- you talk to him about the money, and just let me know what to do." (Incredibly, he passes the cellphone to the crook - who could just make off with it and call it a day).
Francesco, at this point, is shouting, "No, papà, it's a scam, don't do it!" But to deaf ears. That's because our Actor-Thief has now disconnected the phone and carried on his own version of a conversation in which they're squared away.
"Okay, so he says he'll pay you back the 160 euro he owes me."
"But I don't have 160 euro, just €120 or so..."
"Va bene, va bene...I'll take the 120 euro just to put this thing to rest."
"Very well. Grazie tante."
Judging from what you read in the papers, this scam is so prevalent the thieves could form their own actor's guild. But the real mystery remains, Why are the best, most efficient customer-oriented, demographically savvy, target-marketing people the scam artists? The world may never know.