I used to hear stories about people who have been scammed on Craigslist and I'd think, "What idiots! How can people fall for such obvious hoaxes?" I can now classify myself as one of those idiots.
In my search for a part-time job, I responded to an ad on Craigslist posted by a couple needing a nanny for their two children. Marcus, a BMW employee, and his fashion designer wife lived in Switzerland and would soon be moving to the United States. From our multiple email and phone conversations, I sensed that this family was very affluent. A quick Zillow search of their soon-to-be 7,000 square foot and $2 million home confirmed my suspicions.
Dollar signs flashed before my eyes and I imagined my life with this family: summers in Switzerland, an endless surplus of fine chocolates and cheeses, my arms clad in gold Swiss watches. I was absolutely giddy--right up until I received an email from Marcus that shot up the red flags. And fast.
"Courtney, I will make out a payment (cashiers check) of $2,900 to you via FedEx. We expect you to hire some house cleaners and you might also need to purchase some groceries before we arrive. However, the rest of the funds goes to the real estate agent. I have made it clear to the agent that you will make payment for his balance on my behalf. He will send you the keys to the house so you can get it ready before our arrival. I will need your response ASAP. Note: I need you to send me your full name and correct mailing address."
I re-read his email several times and tried to convince myself that it was simply a cultural difference--Marcus didn't know how strange his requests sounded. Just in case, I emailed the listing agent of the home he was supposedly buying to see if it was under contract. And of course, it was not.
This "businessman from Switzerland" was trying to scam me with either cashier's check fraud (a popular scam right now) or identity theft. While my better judgment told me to ignore Marcus and cease all contact, I just couldn't help myself. I needed to mess with him, if for no other reason than to help drag my ego out of the gutter. So, I responded to Marcus' email:
I'm great, thanks! However, I do feel the need to disclose something about myself. I have some cannibalistic tendencies--and while they are mostly under control, sometimes I do have urges. I've been working with a specialist who has gotten me to a really great place, but she has told me that cannibalism isn't something that just goes away. It stays with you for life. Will that be a problem? But don't worry, I have a 5-step program I go through in my head every time I'm having an urge. It goes as follows:
1. People are not food. People are not food!
2. Skin looks tasty, skin looks fine, but take a bite and you'll do time.
3. Good job, you're doing great. Smell and touch, but do not taste.
4. Distract yourself. Write a poem, go for a walk, drink some water. Make sure the water is either very hot or very cold. The water cannot be 98 degrees as it will be too close to the temperature of blood--and that may trigger more cravings.
P.S. Full disclosure. I do have leprosy--weird, right? I thought it was a disease of biblical times, but apparently you can still get it! Don't worry, I'm on medication, so it shouldn't spread to your sweet children.
Anyway, here is my mailing address. I can't wait to set up your gorgeous new home. So excited to be a part of your family. See you soon, I'll bring the A1!