Grey is a junior in high school. He recently earned his full driver’s license, and he wants his own car. So he spends evenings and weekends scanning Craigslist for just the right ride – one that balances cost and cool.
The other day, he texted me this photo and ad:
What’s not to like? A gorgeous 2004 Jeep Wrangler Sport with 111,000 miles and lots of goodies. And inexplicably still within a “New Vehicle 4-Year/50,000 Mile Warranty.”
Nora has been open to Grey getting a car, if he does all the work, and pays for everything.
I’m not too excited about it, because he doesn’t really need one, and it’s really expensive to insure a car when a teen is the primary driver. After all, adding him to our GEICO insurance as a non-primary driver is already costing $621 a year. I’d rather he build some savings instead.
But maybe it will be a good learning experience. So I try not to be a wet blanket. A blanket maybe, but not a wet one.
In a promising sign, Grey puts together a thoughtful email to send to the Craigslist woman:
She responds with an email that doesn’t answer any of Grey’s questions, but changes the reason for why she is in a rush to offload the Jeep for cheap. Unless the aforementioned “company SUV” she’s inheriting is an Army Hummer.
Hmmm, do I let Grey figure this out for himself, or do I warn him? I don’t want him to get too invested in it and have his heart crushed like a coke can, so I send him a generic Craigslist warning:
Undaunted, Grey re-sends his questions to the seller. In response, “Mary Foster” sends impressive detail:
My spidey sense is vibrating at high pitch, but Grey, who’s never been bit by a radioactive spider, doesn’t have the super powers that I do. And, perhaps not coincidentally, he’s never been the target of an online scam before.
Being a superhero can sometimes be a challenge, not knowing when to save the day and how best to avoid collateral damage. But it is satisfying to be able to swoop in and rescue a loved one from the claws of the bad guy.
From work, I tap out this email to Grey:
We discuss it further and Grey quickly transitions from excited about a Jeep, to excited about scamming the scammer.
He forwards me the eBay invoice:
I’m not sure who falls for this. The “Free Shipping & Handling” by itself would probably cost the owner more than $1,400.
Grey, on his own, zeroed in on a major inconsistency:
He BCC’ed me, and I responded to him:
If you haven’t seen James Veitch’s TED talk on what happens when you reply to spam email, your life is poorer for it.
But no, Grey was already fully caped up, saving other unsuspecting citizens from the dastardly villain.
I was impressed with his ability to confound the scammer in various ways. Here’s a sample:
Mary Foster didn’t like that idea one bit.
Grey never did let on that he was wise to the ruse, and the scammer never gave up either. Say what you want about “Mary Foster,” but I was impressed by “her” industriousness and follow through. She worked so hard, it almost makes you wonder why she doesn’t get a legitimate job like the rest of us. You know, one where you don’t have to lie about serving your country overseas, while you steal from unsuspecting rubes.
Just an idea. But I suppose the ability to set your own hours and work from home is pretty attractive.