• fraudstersdiary

You will like this - but not a lot

Not all magicians wear dinner jackets, are accompanied by sequinned attractive assistants and carry top hats from which they produce live rabbits. These days, they can be much more subtle, however, their sleight of hand skills are just as good. Let me tell you about one guy I know called Reggie, who makes a fortune doing this.

He searches the online classifieds and auction sites and identifies the best mobile phones he can find. Top of the range models with a big memory can retail at more than £1,000. His ideal punter is someone who has got an upgrade as a result of their phone contract, but who would rather have money instead. The punter must live within a reasonable travelling distance from where Reggie lives. Reggie lives in London so there is no shortage of mug-punters.

Reggie’s strategy is to pose as a compliant buyer. His emails and texts (from a burner phone obviously) are friendly and polite and the most he will do is ask if the punter would possibly consider reducing the price rather than take a more demanding and belligerent approach. He does so for three reasons; (1) It allows the punter to feel that they are in control of the situation, and (2) they subconsciously begin to form a mental picture of Reggie as someone from whom they can demand a high a price as possible, and (3) the contrast between the guy they have been dealing with via text messages and the ‘real’ Reggie will wrong-foot and confuse them.

In response to Reggie’s overly polite request, the punter usually informs him that he is sticking to his price as the phone is still boxed and unused, or at best reduces it by some derisory amount. Reggie ‘reluctantly’ agrees and suggests they meet in person to exchange his cash for the punters phone. He usually suggests somewhere quiet or has on occasions agreed to meet in a car park after giving the punter the colour and make of his car.

The punter arrives with the phone and full of confidence. When he meets Reggie he notices that he does behave like the polite, meek and submissive guy he has been dealing with so far. Reggie is larger than life (both physically and figuratively) he speaks loudly and aggressively and immediately tells the punter that he needs to see the phone for himself. The punter is a bit shell-shocked at Reggie’s forthright demeanour (and a little bit frightened) and readily agrees.

Reggie takes the phone out of the box and almost immediately drops it onto his lap or the floor of the car. Unknown to the punter, Reggie has already secreted another phone of the same appearance and switches them. Reggie apologises profusely and places the replacement phone back in the box and closes the lid. The punter is relieved that ‘submissive Reggie’ has reappeared and assures him that everything is Ok and not to worry.

At this point, Reggie tells the punter that he is also going to look at an identical phone nearby, however, this other phone is less than half the price. He informs the punter that if he is willing to match this price he will give him the money here and now. He produces a wad of cash to prove that he has the ability to do so. The punter invariably refuses and leaves. Reggie feigns disappointment and leaves too.

It is only when the punter arrives home, opens the box and examines the phone to wipe away any dirty fingermarks, that he realises that Reggie has swapped his genuine phone for a cheap Chinese copy that doesn’t even turn on. Meanwhile Reggie has already advertised the genuine phone for sale at a very reasonable price and has been inundated with offers.

It gets worse. Reggie dines out on the story of a guy who thought he was something of a private eye by finding Reggie’s advertisement and arranging for his brother to pose as a punter wanting to buy the phone and claw back some of his losses. His brother’s intention is to switch the Chinese copy phone back for the genuine phone and then make an excuse not to buy then leave - quickly.

Reggie (using another name and number) ensures punters must bring cash if they wants to take the phone away with them as he has other buyers waiting. The brother met Reggie in a cafe and Reggie pulled out the (genuine) phone, turned it on and demonstrated it with the rehearsed and polished sales patter of an accomplished salesman. He handed the phone over for the brother to examine and he was confident this was the real deal. Reggie agreed to a reasonable reduction in price and as the punter counted out the cash, he put the phone back into the box.

You can probably guess where this is going……. Between them, the two brothers exchanged a top of the range smartphone for 2 cheap Chinese copies and also paid Reggie nearly £1500 into the bargain. As I said, you will like it - but not a lot.

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