Stranger gives me a camera - why?
December 19, 2009 2:48 PM   Subscribe

I have received a (used) Sony Cybershot camera with a charger and usb cord in the mail. I have no idea who the sender is or why it was sent to me! What is going on here?

The camera and various parts are wrapped in plastic bags from other commercial goods - ex. a cosmetic bag - and placed in a plain brown box with newspaper as padding.

My name and address is spelled perfectly, which is really unusual. I have family members who spell my first name incorrectly. It's been sent by USPS First Priority and the stamp on the box shows the same city the return address is from.

The return address has a first name, with what looks like a residential address (per google maps) in Southern California.

I don't know anyone in that area of the country, and the only person that I've known with that first name was an elementary school friend who lives on the other side of the country.

I turned the camera on, there are no pictures in the memory and no extra memory card that I can see. The camera is about halfway charged.

The camera is used, but in very good condition.

Why on earth would someone send something like this to a stranger? I'm a little freaked out!

Hivemind, is this some supercool new thing to do that I'm too dorky to know about? Or is it something more sinister?
posted by lootie777 to Grab Bag (24 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Secret Quonsar?
posted by fixedgear at 2:49 PM on December 19, 2009

Sounds like how you'd package something for an eBay buyer.

Maybe somebody sent it to the wrong person-with-your-name. How common is your name, and how big a city do you live in?
posted by box at 2:54 PM on December 19, 2009

Best answer: Hmmm. Could you write a letter to the return address and ask them to verify that no mistake was made as you're a little unsettled by the unsolicited gift and, additionally, worried it went to the wrong person? This might help get at least enough information from them that will alleviate your worries.... or give you enough to get and Apprehended Violence Order..(I jest.)

And we need to know... have you told anyone lately that you need a new camera? Sounds like someone upgraded their own and thought you'd like their old, but still fabulous, camera.
posted by taff at 2:58 PM on December 19, 2009

If you have a PayPal account, check it to be sure you haven't actually paid for this camera. Maybe someone tried to steal your PayPal identity to buy this thing but wasn't smart enough to realize that they'd need to change the "ship to" address.
posted by rhartong at 2:59 PM on December 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

Secret admirer?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:00 PM on December 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Any chance someone has sent you a banjo?
posted by DarlingBri at 3:01 PM on December 19, 2009 [16 favorites]

Response by poster: Hmmm, I'm thinking taff is onto something here. I will write a letter (how old-fashioned!) to the return address and ask them if they meant it to go to me.

However, my name isn't very generic and I live in big city. I don't have a paypal account, and I've never purchased or sold anything on ebay.

posted by lootie777 at 3:07 PM on December 19, 2009

At least it wasn't a banjo.

Seriously though, I think taff has good advice re: writing to the sender. It does sound like a truly unsolicited gift meant for you (or someone with your exact name). If it were a regular gift or purchase from ebay sent to you in error, certainly there would be some kind of paperwork or card or something on the inside.
posted by ourroute at 3:10 PM on December 19, 2009

DarlingBri beat me to it.
posted by ourroute at 3:12 PM on December 19, 2009

Response by poster: Ok, I missed that banjo post....great googly-moogly. If I had gotten a banjo, I'm pretty sure I would have driven to straight to the police department to have it dusted for finger prints and checked for acid on the strings.
posted by lootie777 at 3:23 PM on December 19, 2009 [3 favorites]

My other thought is that is that if it isn't a banjo, it's a gift someone bought for you from Ebay (tis the season!), and the Ebay seller forgot to include the paperwork that would have also indicated that. Occam's Razor and all that.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:01 PM on December 19, 2009

I'm not quite sure of the morality of this, but it could lead you to figuring it out. If I were you I would try and find any previously deleted photos on the memory card. Perhaps the 'stranger' who sent it to you is not a stranger at all.
posted by ejfox at 4:16 PM on December 19, 2009 [3 favorites]

Just don't let anyone else pick it up from you, or send a shipping label for it. If you get anything similar to a request to "send it back" or "send it somewhere else", be very careful. Also, check ALL of your credit cards. This may be a scam. Here is a great page about certain types of delivery scams.
posted by eleyna at 4:24 PM on December 19, 2009 [3 favorites]

Are you on Reddit?
posted by illenion at 5:16 PM on December 19, 2009

Response by poster: Not on Reddit!

All my gift exchanging is finished for this year. And I haven't expressed a need for a camera, in fact I have two perfectly good ones already.

eleyna, thank you for the link. I must confess, my first thought was some sort of scam. I'll make sure to be careful in my interactions with my mysterious gift giver.
posted by lootie777 at 6:15 PM on December 19, 2009

Although the charger and cable make this less likely, it's possible someone found the camera, tried to track down the owner, was convinced it was you, and sent it.

I'd probably look at the memory card if only to find a clue.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:24 PM on December 19, 2009

If it helps, I've gotten TWO mystery packages similar to this in the past year. (The one major difference being they were both items from my Amazon wish list.). Weird package, no paperwork, obscure return address. In each case it turned out that it was a gift sent to me by a friend via Amazon marketplace. So, weird yes, actually a scam or stalker, I doubt it.

And I love that 'sent me a banjo' is now slang for an unwanted mystery gift.
posted by anastasiav at 10:57 PM on December 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

I do hope you post an update if/when you track down the sender!
posted by kate blank at 7:20 AM on December 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Try searching ebay for completed auctions of the item in question - see if there is an obvious contender.
posted by Dmenet at 11:16 AM on December 20, 2009

Here's a somewhat similar story from Consumerist, although it seems more like a cut and dry mis-ship.
posted by GilloD at 5:30 PM on December 20, 2009

Someone received about $200 worth of Amazon books from me, after I moved (but forgot to update Amazon's address book). Have you moved in recently?
posted by IAmBroom at 7:36 PM on December 20, 2009

Response by poster: No response yet...but Christmas week is always out of whack. I'll keep the post updated!
posted by lootie777 at 8:15 PM on December 26, 2009

posted by DarlingBri at 6:22 PM on January 7, 2010

Response by poster: Well, the explanation is pretty boring.

My father was checking several different "wish-lists" online and thought he was checking a gift request on mine. However, the digital camera request was for someone else. We have a general agreement that we don't exchange gifts at Christmas, but he sometimes will send something my way on a whim.

And the sender didn't include a note stating the gift was from him, as requested. However, Amazon does not always do that, if it's a third party sending the item.

Mystery solved! But I have to say I'm a little disappointed it was such a mundane explanation. Oh well, maybe a banjo will appear on my doorstep someday...
posted by lootie777 at 11:04 AM on January 11, 2010

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