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Ripped off..

Not sure if this is the right spot for this post, apologies if not..


I was recently ripped off by someone I had done multiple trades with over the last 2 years or so. It's nobody from this site, I've done a lot of trades and never been done wrong once. I'm guessing there's nothing I can do about it but I figured I'd seek your opinions. The trade value was about $350-$375 was to receive Diagon Alley, the most recent Millenium Falcon, and the Robin poly). Instead I received the boxes for both and no poly, in 2 shipping boxes. The outer shipping boxes had not been compromised in any way. This person who I've done a few thousand dollars in trade with suddenly won't respond to emails or texts for 2 weeks after constant contact til now.


I live in Idaho, he in Florida. I wouldn't even know who to contact, nor would it be an easy thing to prove. I figure I'm burnt, I guess I'm lucky it wasn't a large amount of money I suppose.
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Comments

  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    That sucks, no two ways about it...

    Shame that you can't prove anything, even more of a shame that you can't get law enforcement involved, what happened is theft in my book. :(

    May that person reap 10x in negative Karma for his evil deed. :(
  • BoiseStateBoiseState Member Posts: 804
    That's what I figured.. If I call law enforcement in Florida I can't imagine they'd do much. With him shipping empty boxes, it proves that he sent something. It's my word against his as to the contents of the boxes.


    I've done 20+ trades/sales here, including a 4 figure sale, and never had one bad experience. Guess I'll just stick with trading here.
  • XefanXefan Member Posts: 1,149
    How did you pay? If it was Paypal then file a dispute.
  • BoiseStateBoiseState Member Posts: 804
    No money was exchanged, it was a trade.
  • XefanXefan Member Posts: 1,149
    Ah sorry, I can't advise then as I don't know enough about US laws. I'd still contact the police though, maybe things work differently in the US but here in the UK if such a thing happened and the police couldn't do anything they'd at least have a log of it so if they got a similar report in future they'd have ever stronger grounds to do a thorough investigation, possibly even raid his house for evidence if he's committing fraud regularly and to many people.

    I don't know if it's the police in your state, the FBI because it's interstate, or his local police because again I don't know much about the US' policing system but just give them a call, be honest with them, say "I don't know if much can really be done, I understand that it's my fault for trusting the guy, but I thought I'd call for your advice".

    Ultimately this guy has committed fraud if everything is as you say, and he is the one entirely responsible and most jurisdictions normally take fraud pretty seriously, especially as I say if perhaps you're not even his first victim. What is there to lose in at least giving them a call, and explaining the situation? They may be useless, but at least you tried to report what appears to fundamentally be criminal activity which is better than just letting him get away with it without resistance.
  • EracerMikeyEracerMikey ScotlandMember Posts: 25
    In terms of evidence, the postage weight should be able to indicate whether the boxes were empty when sent. There's over 3,000 elements in the sets you've mentioned, it would prove that there was intent to defraud you.
    rancorbaitBuriedinBrickspiratemania7
  • GothamConstructionCoGothamConstructionCo Colchester UKMember Posts: 782
    I'm really sorry something like this has happened to you @BoiseState.

    @Xefan is right in suggesting taking some time out to report the fraud to the relevant authority's.

    It may help to prevent others being ripped off by this scumbag.
  • atxleeatxlee Member Posts: 155
    Sorry to hear what had happened to you but EracerMikey is right about the postage weight. That might give you an avenue to pursue this further...
  • y2joshy2josh Member Posts: 2,002

    In terms of evidence, the postage weight should be able to indicate whether the boxes were empty when sent. There's over 3,000 elements in the sets you've mentioned, it would prove that there was intent to defraud you.

    That works if he took it to the post office himself and they weighed it there, but if he printed the labels from home, it wouldn't help. The carriers typically don't care if you overpay them.
  • 91stlegotrooper91stlegotrooper Member Posts: 92
    I am a part-time private investigator (not my main job, just something extra) and I am pretty up to date on US law. No matter what, even if there is no evidence, file a police report. By law, there will have to be a police follow up to some degree. Also, if this guy scams someone else and they report it to police, there would be two police reports on him and that will go in your favor. You must report this incident to police or he will never get caught. Anyone reading this comment, if you are scammed, report it to police immediately.
    LegoboyYellowcastleLegoMom1LegoRocco
  • cloaked7cloaked7 Member Posts: 1,448
    It is a bummer. Scammers are the worst. Looks like this person did some small trades with you in order to build trust. All along knowing they were going to cheat you on one big final trade. Sickening.

    It won't hurt to fill out a police report, but there most likely won't be anything done. They have bigger fish to fry. Also, they may see it as a 'he said, she said' case. Unless you have proof the other person would simply deny things or say they were the one shorted. A big mess.

    Unfortunately, I think it will be a case of just accepting the loss and then doing whatever you can to warn others and cause this person as much grief as you can.
  • tamamahmtamamahm Member Posts: 1,977
    We had a case of being scammed once. The individual had made a number of transactions... Small ones to set up history.

    After that the person made some large ones on. He closed up shop after that, meaning multiple scam jobs were pulled at once.

    Point... You may not be the only one scammed by this person at the moment.

  • 91stlegotrooper91stlegotrooper Member Posts: 92
    ^Exactly why you should file a police report. Multiple reports draws more attention on a person and police begin to believe the victims' word over the con artist's.
    @cloaked7, when it comes to fraud, that is one of law enforcement's biggest "fish" to catch. Fraud is a very serious offense in the US. Depending on the state and the amount cheated, a person could face up to 25 years in prison per offense. It is a separate and even more serious offense to commit fraud over state lines. In @BoiseState case, if this guy is caught, he could face up to five years in prison if he has not scammed anyone else.
  • pillpodpillpod Member Posts: 273
    It'd be kind of funny if a similar scammer set up a trade with someone of his own ilk. They each try to scam each other and end up with a bunch of empty boxes...

    Sorry to hear about your situation BoiseState.
  • hoyatableshoyatables Northern Virginia, USAMember Posts: 873
    Seriously, check the postage. The alleged criminal may have been too stupid to overpay.
    cheshirecat
  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,332
    ^ Indeed, I had one, a buyer, that used the tracking code on the envelope to check the tracking status of a package and then told me the parcel hadn't arrived (and gave me the exact tracking status to show me!).
  • pvancil27pvancil27 Member Posts: 588
    edited July 2013
    Where in Florida?

    Also, you did get the Alley/Falcon but are just out the Poly, or were the boxes empty?
  • BoiseStateBoiseState Member Posts: 804
    I received the empty boxes for the Falcon/Diagon Alley, no Poly. I knew the second I picked the boxes up I'd been had.
  • BoiseStateBoiseState Member Posts: 804
    Hialeah, FL.
  • kwkwkwkw USAMember Posts: 1,188
    @BoiseState I've been through a similar situation. Ill pm you with how i got my money back
  • nkx1nkx1 Member Posts: 719
    edited July 2013
    Sorry that happened to you. I suppose you could always file a small claims case against him if you're in Florida any time soon (although even if you win, it's often tough to collect from an individual). In the interim, I'm sure there are many telemarketers that would love to have his phone number and address! Kidding, of course.

    Sometimes with this kind of thing (getting cheated out of a relatively small amount of money), it might be best not to waste too much of your time on it, and chalk it up to a learning experience since it's quite probable he wont be caught. I would take a few minutes to report it to the police anyway, just in case, like many others have advised.

    Best of luck with however you choose to handle this unfortunate situation.
  • BoiseStateBoiseState Member Posts: 804
    I talked to both my local police department and the one in Hialeah. There's nothing they can do. Mine doesn't have jurisdiction to do anything, and in Florida there's a myriad of reasons they can't/won't do anything. It's a he said/she said case, Its not worth it monetarily to fly down there to testify in court, and this guy could just say he shipped them and something must have happened in transit. I can't prove anything.



    So be careful out there people..
  • pvancil27pvancil27 Member Posts: 588

    Hialeah, FL.

    Figures its the far side of the state. I'd offer to go pay him a visit but its about a 7 hour drive from me.
  • cloaked7cloaked7 Member Posts: 1,448
    Have Penny from Big Bang Theory pay him a visit! :-)
    LegobutterflyPitfall69
  • EKSamEKSam Member Posts: 349
    @BoiseState
    This sucks. Looks like you tried the law enforcement route to no avail:-( I remember reading about the mega trade on Brickset going south a few months back which led to naming and shaming of the person involved. Don't know whether there was restitution but it served as a warning for other members to stay away from the individual. Can you do something like that? Perhaps the person has a history of scamming.
    Hope @kwkw's advise helps you recover your money. :-)
  • BoiseStateBoiseState Member Posts: 804
    The person in question doesn't post here to my knowledge.. Or else I'd probably contact a mod or just out him here. We've done probably 10-15 trades, usually under $150, and had no problem. Guess he was just waiting for a bigger deal to rip me off.


    But be careful of a Hialeah, FL address. If anyone runs across one, hit me up and I'll let you know if it's the same person.
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    ^ Why keep it private? If he/she screwed you over, publish the name and be done with it.
  • BoiseStateBoiseState Member Posts: 804
    I didn't know if the mods/owners if this board would be ok with that.. Please delete if not.


    Timothy Gross is his name, Hialeah Florida. I wont give out his address publicly, but do not do any business with this person. He sells Lego on EBay as well, let me see if I can find his user name.
    Pitfall69LegoFanTexas
  • ColoradoBricksColoradoBricks Denver, CO, USAMember Posts: 1,672
    What about filling a complaint with USPS for stolen merchandise, even though it is not them, it might go up to a inquiry and may be see weight, etc at different scanning locations and show fraud from the shipper...
  • AFFOL_Shellz_BellzAFFOL_Shellz_Bellz Member Posts: 1,263
    That is definitely mail fraud and you need to file a complaint with them.
  • legogregorslegogregors Member Posts: 402
    I agree it seems like mail fraud. I hope USPS can help and it is worth a try. Shipping weight may help you and he could have ripped off multIple traders. I would call USPS and explain that either the package was tampered with or the guy committed mail fraud. Good luck, my one purchase from you was terrific!
  • BoiseStateBoiseState Member Posts: 804
    Thank you @legogregors.. I've had a nothing but positive experiences trading/buying/selling here.


    I'll contact USPS and see what they have to say.
  • samiam391samiam391 A log cabin in PA, United StatesMember Posts: 4,375
    @BoiseState- It seems there have already been plenty of helpful suggestions. It's nice to see the quick Brickset response of numerous bits of advice/opinions. Something you can always count on here!

    I absolutely hate fraud, and seeing it happen to someone is bad enough, but it's all the worse when it's to another Brickset member.

    Just wanted to say I'm sorry. I hope that you are able to get your money back, and that also this dishonest person is caught and brought to justice.

    Best of luck.
  • LegoMom1LegoMom1 Member Posts: 652
    So sorry for you. Lots of good advice above. Do what you can to recover your loss and also to nail the creep. If you can't get restitution, let's hope for serious Karma.
  • XefanXefan Member Posts: 1,149
    If the local police don't have jurisdiction and the Florida police refuse to do anything then can you not contact the FBI given that it's an interstate crime and the Florida police department refuse to act? As I say I don't know how US law works particularly well but I was under the impression that if a crime is interstate and local police wont act then it's one for the FBI? It may seem too trivial to you to report to them but as has been said, if you're one of many then he may be a bigger fraudster than you realise and they may be interested no?
  • BRCBRC Member Posts: 125
    edited July 2013

    He sells Lego on EBay as well, let me see if I can find his user name.

    Sorry to hear what happened to you, it sucks. Post the Ebay username as well so everyone can steer clear of him.

    It all sounds similar to that thief @mrtonytj, they do a few smallish trades to build up trust then rip off on the big trades.

  • legomattlegomatt Member Posts: 2,548
    I know it's too late now, but would it be an idea with regard to large and expensive trades to be worth making use of a mutually trusted 3rd party, who'd be willing to receive both parcels, check contents, and send on if correct, or contact/return to sender when not. It would double postage costs though, i suppose.

    I dunno, it's just an idea i had once. Sorry about your loss. :o(
    Legoboycanon03
  • y2joshy2josh Member Posts: 2,002
    ^That's called escrow. It's not a terrible idea, and the notion of a legitimate escrow service would likely dissuade any potential scammers.
  • legogregorslegogregors Member Posts: 402
    Would it be safer to assign the same price in a trade and each side makes payment through paypal.com? You lose around 3% in paypal fees but than buyer/seller protection would kick in and a last resort, dispute the charge with your credit card company?
  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,332
    ^ i was thinking the same. of course it requires people to have both the cash and the goods, often people trade because they dont have the cash handy. i also have a suspision it could be used as a way to get items cheaply, pay at a trade va.ue then never send your bits... or sonething. still might be safer than just a trade.
  • 91stlegotrooper91stlegotrooper Member Posts: 92
    I did some checking. Timothy Robert Gross, age 25, lives in Miami, Florida (Hialeah is a district of Miami) and has no criminal record. This is according to the US Census Bureau, 2010 census and a FBI background check.
  • legomattlegomatt Member Posts: 2,548
    ^ Careful people, there might be more than one person of the same name in a given area, and it would be an absolute nightmare for that person, if he was the wrong one, and suddenly got accosted by total strangers over a theft he knew nothing about.
  • TheLoneTensorTheLoneTensor MericaMember Posts: 3,950
    y2josh said:

    ^That's called escrow. It's not a terrible idea, and the notion of a legitimate escrow service would likely dissuade any potential scammers.

    Escrow, in any form, is certainly a good thing to guard against scammers, but like any insurance, it does add to the overall cost.

  • nkx1nkx1 Member Posts: 719
    edited July 2013
    ^You have to wonder if getting ripped off every so often is generally less of an overall cost than paying an escrow service and paying double shipping for each transaction. My guess is that it is probably cheaper getting ripped off every so often.

    To be perfectly honest, trading seems sufficiently attractive to thieves that I probably would never do it. If I did, I would probably have to take the same approach as lending someone money. That is, I would pretty much plan on it being a gift, and if I got paid back (or received the trade item I wanted), it would be a nice bonus.
  • canon03canon03 USAMember Posts: 339
    Escrow sounds like a good idea for trades over a certain value (>$50?).

    I weigh the extra cost of insurance every time I order from bricklink. My rule of thumb is any order over $15 is worth the extra for insurance which is usually less than a couple bucks.

    If a mutual trade was worth $50, maybe an extra $6-$7 for extra postage would be worth it.

    Anyone volunteering to be the free 3rd party?
  • BoiseStateBoiseState Member Posts: 804
    Called USPS and they wondered why this is an issue with them.. They said I can make a claim that the box was tampered with en route, but it was only insured for $100 and I know they didn't tamper with it. As far as the contents, they say it would be very hard to prove that it was mail fraud. They suggested contacting the police, which I already did.


    I'm not going to call the FBI, it's just not worth the hassle.. In the end it's not much money and I learned a valuable lesson. Just be careful with trading, because there's pretty much nothing you can do if ripped off.

  • asksolasksol Member Posts: 101
    Surely there must be more attractive ventures for criminals? Does it really happen often that people with a Lego trading history suddenly turn into thieves?
  • BoiseStateBoiseState Member Posts: 804
    No, I don't think so. Like I said, I've had tons of trades here, a few this week even, and all went smoothly.
  • kwkwkwkw USAMember Posts: 1,188
    @BoiseState don't give up. The reason why these scumbags keep scamming people is because they know they can get away with it. But if you show others that these a-holes can be either brought to justice or made to return your items and then made to cry like a scared little baby, or both, then less and less people will try to scam others. Stand up for yourself, stand up for little Timmys everywhere who are these scumbags' next victims. Don't let these pieces of filth hurt others. Bring him to justice. We are here to help you.
  • legogregorslegogregors Member Posts: 402
    @BoiseState When I ship through ebay and print the label it says 1lbs 4 ozs. Did your received label say something? I think I would try USPS once more and ask for a manager and at least say you want to file a complaint to get something on record. The guy actually paid for insurance??? I would also consider contacting ebay/paypal if nothing else, try to file a complaint. He only has positive feedback?

    What are the odds:

    http://www.timgross.com/tips-for-avoiding-a-scam-ripoff-misleading-offer/
    Furrysaurus
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