"Stan Wilson in Chicago" does not have your stolen laptop
I haven't heard about any sightings of our favorite Portland street con man lately, but a reader writes in with what she claims to be a new scam, which I suppose could victimize you wherever you are. She writes:
I was almost the victim of a new scam that I'd love to let others know about. I posted something on craigslist (the source of the attempted scam) in an attempt to warn folks, but I just heard from one woman who fell victim and it sounds like she could use some help.O.k., world, I've done my duty. You've been warned.
Here's what happened: My boyfriend's laptop was stolen last weekend and after filing a police report and notifying the computer manufacturer, I thought to post something under the "Lost & Found" section on craigslist offering a reward, no questions asked, for its return. A few days later I get a phone call from a truck driver named "Stan Wilson" from Chicago who says that he bought my laptop on his way through town, figured it to be stolen, found me on craigslist, and would like to return it to me. Elated, I immediately offer to pay him whatever he paid for it plus the cost of shipping. He tells me that he is going to figure out how much it will cost to ship to me and call me back.
So, I talk to this guy again and he tells me to wire him money via Western Union and he'll ship the computer to me. Big red flag goes off hearing the words "Western Union." Fortunately for me, I had to be somewhere so got off the phone and promised to call him back. I decided to locate an escrow service to do the deal--if the transaction was legit, he would respect that--and called him back.
Well, I never talked to the guy again and today his phone number was disconnected. I knew it was a scam, but couldn't just leave it at that. I did one of those reverse number lookups (which cost $15 for cell phones) and came up with the name "Sergio Retiz," a Sprint PCS customer in Chicago. So I try Googling Sergio and find a Chicago craigslist ad from someone offering a reward to find him. I email that guy, we talk (turns out he is in Seattle), and he had posted a similar ad and received a similar call and done just what I had done to try and find this guy. So at that, I post a warning on craigslist in the lost & found section to folks who have lost or stolen things that if this guy contacts them, its a scam. And then I get the following email:Don't do it!!!!I email her back. This is the response:
I had the same thing happen to me with this guy with a ring I had lost. He called from Chicago and said he was a trucker who bought it going through Portland and then when I tried to call him all of his numbers were disconnected. He is well known. Send him no money.He suckered me for $200.I guess that most people know better that to send money via Western Union to complete strangers, but for those that don't, I want this to be a warning. We're so desperate to get back these items that we have lost, that we'll just take people at their word. I'm just glad I'm not out a laptop AND $200 right now.
I do know that the Portland Police are trying to find him and to figure out how he works. Somehow he disconnects his phones as fast as he gets them. I was so desperate to have my ring back that I wanted to believe him. Hopefully he will be caught --- but I would imagine that it will have to be Western Union who snags him --- I bet it's only a matter of time.