long distance one time buying agent who knows a thing or two about musical instruments
July 22, 2010 9:46 PM   Subscribe

How can I hire someone in Chicago and/or Philly that I can trust to go and buy a rare musical instrument?

I'm on the other side of the plantet. I tried to purchase an expensive (expensive for me, not really that expensive as instruments go) musical instrument from someone in who is either in Chicago or Philadelphia i'm not sure. It got wierd, and the seller sent me fake ebay emails to try and convince me to western union him money.

So it may be that the instrument wasn't actually ever for sale, that it was just a phishing scam all along. But I suspect it was just an opportunistic attempt to steal from someone too far away to do anything about it.

So I don't trust the seller, but he still seems to be listing the instrument for sale to local buyers. He appears to really possess it, as he was able to provide me with specific photos that i requested.

I don't trust him, and I'm not to fond of him either, but I have been searching for this instrument for a long time and would still like to buy it.

Is there some safe way I can hire a trusted person to take my big chunk of cash, find out if the instrument exists and is actually for sale, and if so go buy it and ship it to me?

Any suggestions as to how i could go about doing that?
posted by compound eye to Shopping (20 answers total)
You might try posting it to Metafilter Jobs. You can learn alot from someone through their Metafilter history.
posted by amethysts at 9:50 PM on July 22, 2010

Best answer: Lawyers can do stuff like this. Depending on the amount of cash involved, it might be worthwhile to pay a lawyer's hourly rate for a couple of hours to take care of this for you.
posted by killdevil at 9:57 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'll do it! I'm a trustworthy sort (that's what my friends tell me, anyway). I live in Philly and have the afternoons off for the time being. Would you need it shipped after purchase, stored, what are the logistics?

I've met a few Mefites, to verify I'm a real live person.

(Also, I would verify the instrument exists before being handed a big chunk of cash)
posted by schroedinger at 10:03 PM on July 22, 2010

Er also just realized that you already said you'd need it shipped.
posted by schroedinger at 10:04 PM on July 22, 2010

2nding Metafilter jobs. And, if it's in Chicago, I'd be happy to do it for you. I'll be moving there next week.

More generally, a lawyer or well-regarded instrument broker or something might be a possibility. You're probably right to be suspicious of anything to do with Western Union money wiring though.
posted by booknerd at 10:08 PM on July 22, 2010

Response by poster: oh i was right to be suspicious,
the seller made up fake emails from ebay that linked the buy it now icon to the western union page, I forwarded them to ebay who confimed they were total fakes.
posted by compound eye at 10:17 PM on July 22, 2010

Dude, the alarm bells are ringing. I'll be shocked if he doesn't disappear after you present this arrangement to him.
posted by rhizome at 10:20 PM on July 22, 2010

Does he need to present the arrangement to the seller? Why can't some local dude just happen to be interested it, show up with cash in hand, and take the instrument?
posted by jrockway at 10:27 PM on July 22, 2010

I am in the Chicago. In the suburbs. What part of Chicago is this located? I could be persuaded to take on this job if you decide to go with someone local.
posted by lampshade at 10:35 PM on July 22, 2010

Response by poster: I'm not intending to present anything to the seller,
The seller is advertising locally,
I just want to hire a local dude to turn up and buy it, if it exists.

the ad claims its in Orland Park, which is 24 miles from Chicago, so going to pick it up could take 1 to 2 hours from downtown Chicago.
posted by compound eye at 11:06 PM on July 22, 2010

I'm curious if you are interested in the instrument as an art piece, or an instrument that will be played. Unless it is something that will only be gazed upon, I wouldn't trust photos as indication of the instruments quality. As someone who has spent a fair amount of time hunting down and testing out very old and rare saxophones, I can tell you that looks have VERY little to do with the overall sound and feel of an instrument, but you probably already know that if you intend to play it. Unless you are able to return an instrument by mail if it does not suit your taste, you absolutely should not purchase an instrument to be played without spending at least several hours with it beforehand.

Also, why would you ever consider doing business with someone who has already tried to scam you once? Do you honestly believe they will act in good faith in person? This individual has been shown to be untrustworthy, yet you hold out hope that they will be reasonable in the end and that the deal exists. Convince yourself that it is too good to be true, and move on.
posted by StrangerInAStrainedLand at 1:01 AM on July 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

If you don't know where the instrument is, you probably shouldn't be buying it.
posted by madcaptenor at 4:52 AM on July 23, 2010

Response by poster: Stranger and madcap, you're suggestions are not unwarranted.

But there is a reason I am still persisting.
I have a particular reason for wanting to track down this specific and hard to find instrument.
I know I can't trust the person selling the instrument, but I feel it's worth my time to invest a little bit more energy trying to find someone who can investigate for me whether the instrument exists and is for sale. It's not for sale at a bargain price, so it's not a too good to be true deal. And as instruments go its not really that expensive.

There is a limit to how far I'm willing to pursue this though, and I think that limit might be that I will attempt to hire a local lawyer to contact the seller, and if the seller is willing to come by their office and sell it then I'm prepared to buy it and accept the risks involved.
If that doesn't work I'm prepared to let it go.
posted by compound eye at 6:26 AM on July 23, 2010

Response by poster: So given that I have good well thought out reasons for wanting to pursue this further, what suggestions do you have for how I can find a reputable person, preferably able to asses that the instrument is reasonable condition.
posted by compound eye at 6:40 AM on July 23, 2010

Best answer: In Chicago I'd contact The Old Town School of Folk Music (which is not actually in old town, nor exclusively focused on folk music). If you present it to them as 'can you recommend an expert in instrument [x] that I could hire for a few hours to evaluate a purchase' they might be able to direct you further.
posted by true at 6:49 AM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

True has it dead on.

I was going to offer mine and baxter_ilion's services (as others have done), but Orland is too far for our carless selves to go. So yes, call OTS and they should be able to help you out.
posted by bibliogrrl at 8:26 AM on July 23, 2010

I'll be near Orland Park over the weekend. If you still need help, email is in profile.

(it still sounds dodgy as all hell)
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 11:39 AM on July 23, 2010

I would second true's suggestion to hire a reputable local musician to look into things for you, but only if there is someone very familiar with the specific type of instrument in question. Based on how rare this instrument appears to be, I'm guessing you'll have an excruciatingly difficult time finding a local expert, but you could get lucky.

Also, you'll probably get much better help from the hive mind if you just come right out and say exactly what you're looking for. I'm sure there is someone on the green who knows all about it.
posted by StrangerInAStrainedLand at 4:45 PM on July 23, 2010

Response by poster: thank you for the suggestions,
They're very good.

and thank you bighappyfunhouse, but i won't do anything this weekend

I apologise for not specifying details, I am happy to share them with the hive, but i am also aware that there are few googleable mentions of this particular instrument. One of them is the sellers classified ad, and i am wary of making this post, in which I discuss the dodginess of the seller a first page google hit along side his ad.
posted by compound eye at 5:06 PM on July 23, 2010

You would be totally amazed how much effort some people put into scamming. And you might think that you're looking for something obscure, but crooks can run lots of different, targeted scams at the same time.

You already know that he's gone to the trouble of producing fake documents to scam you. Why would you think that copying the photos from another source is too difficult? They may be photos from another auction. They may be photos from a book. They may be photos of a genuine item that the scammer took at a store. Or it might even be a real object, but the things you're looking for are fake additions. I repeat: you would be totally amazed at the effort people go to.

And I agree with the other people here: we could help you much more readily if you didn't dance around the specifics of the item you're looking for. It's weird that you want to trust this guy, who is frankly a crook, but you're paranoid that someone here is going to run out and send money to this scammer just because you expressed interest in an advertisement.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:31 AM on July 24, 2010

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