is an ebay fraud seller free?
November 13, 2005 12:11 PM   Subscribe

can i EVER get revenge on a fraudulent ebay seller?

ok i bought a $3,000 item on ebay a laptop, i never recieved it, i paypaled him the money, and he transfered those funds to his bank account, and then withrdrew it. He then informed me that on the day he was going to ship it out, his car was robbed, and everything (including the laptop and $3,000 cash) was stolen. he lives clear across the country from me, and i know i can get a charge back to my credit card, but is this guy going to get away with it? i mean its not like paypal or ebay can charge his account, as he withdrew the funds. im sure the feds wont do anything for only 3 grand, and the local police on both ends what could they do?
posted by airnxtz to Law & Government (272 answers total) 122 users marked this as a favorite
Take it to small-claims court.
posted by Count Ziggurat at 12:13 PM on November 13, 2005 [1 favorite]

You seem to have bad luck on eBay.

The answer is, probably not. There have been a few isolated (albeit publicized) cases of victims tracking down scammers; but in the vast majority of cases, people have to eat the loss. There are a number of reasons for that, but one is that police are busy -- so in your case, since (assuming you're right) you won't lose any money, the police probably won't bother with your "case." Consider yourself lucky, and learn the lesson: eBay isn't for expensive items.
posted by cribcage at 12:19 PM on November 13, 2005

Call your state's Office of the Attorney General for some advice.
posted by JanetLand at 12:21 PM on November 13, 2005

Response by poster: even if i do find some one who is willing to help, they cant prove he is lying about the robbery, so he will have a strong defense right?
posted by airnxtz at 12:25 PM on November 13, 2005

Well, what if he actually was robbed?

You're getting the money back from your credit card company. Unless you have proof that you were lied to, I doubt anyone would take your "case"; after all, you got your money back.
posted by elisabeth r at 12:26 PM on November 13, 2005 [1 favorite]

(ianal) The robbery should be irrelevant, shouldn't it? It sucks, but he owes you a laptop or $3,000 one way or the other.
posted by boo_radley at 12:28 PM on November 13, 2005

Proof is irrelevant. This won't ever end up in court. The police won't even return your call: You didn't lose any money. Your credit card company will stick PayPal, and PayPal will respond by freezing your account and the seller's account. Then they'll recoup their losses by freezing someone else's account on some nonsense claim.

Unless you'd prefer to forego your chargeback and try to collect directly from the seller...? In that case, you'll probably lose your $3,000 -- but at least you might get some sergeant to return your phone call. Your choice.

Basically, this guy gets away with it. Console yourself with the knowledge that people who do things like this usually spend time in jail eventually, for one thing or another.
posted by cribcage at 12:37 PM on November 13, 2005

Your credit card company will want their $3,000 back. If you've got a ThugZ card instead of one of those piddly little Visa cards, I'm sure he'll be fearing for his life.

seriously, this is what credit cards are for, your money will be returned, and revenge will be sought on your behalf, why worry?
posted by onalark at 12:39 PM on November 13, 2005

Best answer: boo_radley is right. You're not responsible for whether or not he lost the 3G's and the laptop. He owes you one or the other, and if he doesn't come up with the money, then you should take him to small claims court.

1. Document everything. Every conversation you have with the guy; every email exchange.

2. In the future, use escrow. This is exactly what it's for.

3. You need to consider whether you're buying from reputable buyers.
posted by bshort at 12:42 PM on November 13, 2005

Airnxtz, you sure have your problems with Ebay! On October 15 you told us that you sold a laptop on Ebay but that the buyer reported receiving a "jug of water." How did that turn out? A week earlier on another site you reported selling a laptop to someone who claimed only to have received "'a rock' wrapped in bubble wrap." Was that the same transaction? Both came after you had an AskMe question about what theoretically might happen if you sold someone something and they never got it--a question that raised the suspicions of some members. I don't see either of your problematic transactions in your feedback history.
posted by LarryC at 1:44 PM on November 13, 2005 [24 favorites]

This does seem a little strange, especially how the question and follow-up is worded. For example, you say the seller transferred the funds from Paypal to his bank account, then withdrew it. What do you mean by that?

And then this statement, "even if i do find some one who is willing to help, they cant prove he is lying about the robbery, so he will have a strong defense right?"

posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 1:57 PM on November 13, 2005 [2 favorites]

What's the deal here, airnxtz?
posted by boo_radley at 2:00 PM on November 13, 2005

I have a bad feeling about this.
posted by languagehat at 2:04 PM on November 13, 2005 [2 favorites]

Also, how would you know that he withdrew the funds after transferring them to his bank account?
posted by reverendX at 2:06 PM on November 13, 2005 [1 favorite]

Airnxtz, last time around several of us told you to use escrow. If your story is true, you didn't. As such, you're too ignorant to educate. If your story is not true, you're playing us. Either way, shut up.
posted by solid-one-love at 2:13 PM on November 13, 2005

Response by poster: he told he he withdrew the funds from his bank account after paypal transfered it there, thats how the cash was stolen from his car, he said he would make payment arrangements with me and see what he could do
posted by airnxtz at 2:32 PM on November 13, 2005

Could we maybe get a link to the auction? That'd be helpful.
posted by boo_radley at 2:50 PM on November 13, 2005

Why aren't you responding to LarryC's post, airnxtz? I'll ask flat out... are you trying to run some kind of scam where you make these false reports or something? It sure seems odd that you'd lose three laptops in the space of a month or so.
posted by MegoSteve at 2:52 PM on November 13, 2005

Response by poster: no scam, i didnt come here to get interrogated, i just needed advice
posted by airnxtz at 3:02 PM on November 13, 2005

Escrow, escrow, escrow! I'd use it on any ebay auction higher then $50. If the seller doesn't accept escrow than there is something wrong and you shouldn't be buying anything from them.
posted by meta87 at 3:06 PM on November 13, 2005

This isn't a scam? Should I email this buyer and see how she made out?
posted by MegoSteve at 3:07 PM on November 13, 2005

Jeez, that's sleazy. Also probably an illegal lottery.
posted by words1 at 3:26 PM on November 13, 2005

Come for the advice, stay for the interrogation. Your story (stories) are really, really weird, especially when you've had the same fraud problem repeatedly. It'd be much easier to offer you advice if you could at least prove (in part by posting your auction's url) that you actually had this happen to you.
posted by boo_radley at 3:27 PM on November 13, 2005 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: random stranger's suspisions means nothing to me , i have nothing to hide or be afraid of , i came here for advice, thats all im here for. i do appreciate the people who actually contribute to my concerns though =)
posted by airnxtz at 3:29 PM on November 13, 2005

So no URL forthcoming, then?
posted by boo_radley at 3:30 PM on November 13, 2005

Hmmm... airnxtz hasn't provided us with a link to the auction in question yet, but I do see two recent laptop auctions where he was a *seller*:

Nov 9th auction
Nov 10th auction
posted by sanitycheck at 3:30 PM on November 13, 2005

his seller feedback...
posted by HuronBob at 3:46 PM on November 13, 2005

If you have nothing to hide, you're okay with giving us your phone number or address, right? And if there's a willing MeFite in the neighbourhood, you'll be available for a face-to-face at the local coffeeshop, right?
posted by five fresh fish at 4:47 PM on November 13, 2005

IANAL but, as a lawyer, I would recommend you leave these fraudulent eBay auction conspiracies to more seasoned (and more intelligent) grifters. Anyone who sent be a box of rocks, or jug of water in the place of a $3500 computer would not find Bakersfield, CA a large enough place to hide.
posted by HyperBlue at 5:04 PM on November 13, 2005 [1 favorite]

Why do I get the feeling that airnxtz is pretending to be a buyer when he's asking a question so that he can get a feel for some of the legal consequences he the seller might be looking forward to by pulling a laptop scam on eBay?
posted by MegoSteve at 5:04 PM on November 13, 2005

Response by poster: u guys are too funny...
posted by airnxtz at 5:26 PM on November 13, 2005 [2 favorites]

Good Lord, did everyone check out that link MegoSteve posted? Airnxtz is selling a "$500 Walmart / Sams Club gift card" but the item description reads: "YOU ARE BIDDING ON ONE WALMART GIFT CARD WITH A GUARANTEED MYSTERY VALUE OF $$500!! THERE IS A STRONG CHANCE OF RECIEVING A $450 OR $500 GIFT CARD!"

What a sleaze.
posted by LarryC at 5:30 PM on November 13, 2005

Y'all missed the (now deleted) MeTa thread about airnxtz's MySpace profile. At the time, it seemed quite mean-spirited; but in light of his obvious [fill_in_the_blank] on eBay, it seems apropos.
posted by cribcage at 5:31 PM on November 13, 2005

Oh, r we?
posted by interrobang at 5:31 PM on November 13, 2005

That link that MegoSteve posted makes me want to chew bubblegum and kick ass. But I really fucking hate bubblegum.
posted by loquacious at 5:39 PM on November 13, 2005 [1 favorite]

Damn, that auction for a $500 Walmart/Sams Club gift card could mean that the winning bidder paid $290.02 for a $5 gift card! That's just awful.
posted by Serena at 8:54 PM on November 13, 2005

That's just awful.

And almost certain.
posted by solid-one-love at 9:54 PM on November 13, 2005 [1 favorite]

That powerbook scam article made my day. Thanks goodnewsfortheinsane!
posted by meta87 at 10:14 PM on November 13, 2005

Hurray for the AskMe crime squad!
posted by lorbus at 10:34 PM on November 13, 2005

meta (ages ago - sorry).
posted by andrew cooke at 5:46 AM on November 14, 2005

A week earlier on another site you reported selling a laptop to someone who claimed only to have received "'a rock' wrapped in bubble wrap."

I wonder where he got that idea...

posted by eddydamascene at 7:17 AM on November 14, 2005

Okay everyone, here's the buyer's side of the story with airnxtz and the ebay notebook computer....

I am the lucky individual purchasing the notebook computer from airnixtz via ebay Nov 10, 2005. Yes, yes, oh yes, it looked to good to be true, but I have seen crazier things happen in my 5 years on ebay, and thought I'd take a chance. Fortunately, I paid using paypal, unfortunately it appears that it might be a problem at some point, maybe paypal or ebay ends up the loser. Shipment was supposed to be same day, but that did not happen. Yesterday, he emailed me to say it would be today, Nov 14. So far, I have not received a tracking number yet today, but I did receive positive feedback from him for my prompt payment--oh boy!!

A couple of fellow ebayers directed me to this site, so I thought I'd join and post my thoughts. Will post again when I have more info.
posted by m5biemer at 2:38 PM on November 14, 2005 [2 favorites]

Good that you got directed here, bad that it happened when it did.
posted by kenko at 5:58 PM on November 14, 2005

Hmm... Well, IMO it wasn't just the purchaser, but all of metafilter that got ripped off.

I think we all should chip in (at least with our 31337 internet detective 5k1115) and bust this mofo for betraying our trust.
posted by delmoi at 6:24 PM on November 14, 2005

It's screwed up, but I can't believe that m5biemer is actually ebay's m5biemer unless he officially declares himself scammed.

m5, if you're not airnxtz, then I wish you the best of luck getting your money back.
posted by I Love Tacos at 7:14 PM on November 14, 2005

Strange...his myspace account doesn't appear in his mefi profile at this moment. I wonder if adding his username to the end of the url will get me there... worked!
posted by horsewithnoname at 7:39 PM on November 14, 2005

Let's just see what we know about the alleged scammer, airnxtz.

He used to go by airnupw.

Airnxtz's name is allegedly Aaron.

This is allegedly airnxtz's myspace website.

This is allegedly his photo on "Face The Jury".

His AIM screenname is allegedly airnxtz.

Airnxtz allegedly lives in Bakersfield, CA, where he allegedly makes more than $.25M/yr. If this is actually true, it should be extremely easy to find his house in that town.

This is allegedly airnupw/airnxtz's photos and profile on American Singles.

He allegedly attends CSU Bakersfield, as a psychology major.

He allegedly posted at The Auction Board on 8 Oct 2005 claiming a laptop purchaser received a rock in bubble wrap.

On 30 Oct 2005 he asked what should happen if something should hypothetically get lost in transit.
He posted here at AskMe on 15 Oct 2005, claiming a laptop purchaser received a jug of water.
On 13 Nov 2005 he claimed somebody screwed him as a buyer of a $3k laptop.

He sold a laptop on 10 Nov 2005..
Another one on 9 Nov 2005.

He sold the "mystery" gift card (with a $500 gift card title) on 2 Nov 2005.
He sold a $500 gift card on 8 Nov 2005.
He failed to sell this Kohl's Return Card.
He sold this Kohl's return card on 6 Nov 2005 and received positive feedback.

He allegedly posted on Health Boards stating that he could not ejaculate at all, and that he has severe social anxiety

He allegedly fixed that by taking 5htp.

There are other accounts with the same name at:
Get Big
Muscle Mayhem
Rate My Body

A girl from Bakersfield once posted this transcript of a chat with a user called AirN UPW:
This guy always bugs me and i always ignore him...after ignoring him he sent me some pics of him and i emailed him back and said 'why r u sending me these im ignoring u for a reason then he me

AirN UPW [10:11 PM]: hey whats up i got ur email
CrAzY13iTcH86 [10:12 PM]: ok
AirN UPW [10:12 PM]: so how old ru
CrAzY13iTcH86 [10:13 PM]: im busy
CrAzY13iTcH86 [10:13 PM]: bye
AirN UPW [10:13 PM]: wut u doin
CrAzY13iTcH86 [10:15 PM]: homework...i think im too young for u
AirN UPW [10:15 PM]: well how old
CrAzY13iTcH86 [10:15 PM]: 14
AirN UPW [10:15 PM]: dam bye

Im actually 18...maybe he wont i.m me anymore

*Note: I have no idea if any of these people are actually the same people. The evidence is far from complete.
posted by I Love Tacos at 9:00 PM on November 14, 2005 [26 favorites]

What kind of idiot uses the same screen name for every single embarassing thing he's ever committed on the internet?
posted by S.C. at 9:14 PM on November 14, 2005 [6 favorites]

I Love Tacos, that's awesome. Funny and awesome. PMSL.
posted by sjvilla79 at 9:19 PM on November 14, 2005

The sale on 9 Nov was won by pat3897. This account was created on 9 Nov and is no longer a registered user.

After ignoring his negative feedback on ebay, he finally addresses his issues on 24 Oct 2005. Was this criminal mastermind prepping his account for the scam?
posted by horsewithnoname at 9:33 PM on November 14, 2005

This is fun. Can we contact his ex-girlfriends and get them in on this?
posted by LarryC at 9:52 PM on November 14, 2005 [1 favorite]

LarryC: I'll buy you a taco and a beer if you manage to contact his ex-girlfriends, and get their help!
posted by I Love Tacos at 9:54 PM on November 14, 2005

Someone needs to save all related HTML files for posterity.
posted by delmoi at 10:10 PM on November 14, 2005 [1 favorite]

m5biemer: Welcome to MeFi; stick around, we're awesome.
posted by abcde at 10:56 PM on November 14, 2005

(Accidently posted this in the MetaTalk thread, but wanted it to appear here. Sorry.)
So I decided to go ahead and email the eBay winner of the Wal-Mart card auction. Not very surprising, her reply:

About This Member
sandral907( 930)
Positive Feedback: 99.6%
Member Since: Feb-17-05
Location: AK, United States
Registered On:

I have not recieved the card yet, but I am feeling that I got ripped off. I paid nearly $300 for this card. The seller contacted me that the listing was ended early and would I send a M.O. instead of using paypal. They said they were having trouble recieving payment throuh paypal. I paid because that seemed to be the thing to do to avoid bad feedback, but now I wish I hadn't. I think I have just lost a lot of money. Thanks for the heads up but since I paid with a M.O. I don't know if there is anything I can do. This is the second time this has happened to me this month and although I love buying on e bay, I think I will stop because I am now out around$500 with nothing to show. Thanks for your note. I recieved another this am from another fellow member regarding this same card. Have a great week.

Truly, that wasn't the best of decisions to make. But that's how scammers make their fare.

It really does make me even more bitter towards this person, though.
posted by disillusioned at 6:21 AM on November 15, 2005

Hey Aaron, if the lynch mob here is somehow mistaken and you'd like to defend yourself, send me an email at, and I'll post it here for you. Surely there's something that everyone's missing, right? You've got to admit that all the evidence seems to say you're guilty. I want to give you an opportunity to clear your name before things get out of hand.

With all the friends in Bakersfield that you list on your myspace page, the picture of what looks like your mom, dad, and brothers, that can also be found there, and eBay's list of sellers who have shipped you rap cds, video games, and ankle bracelets, it seems pretty likely that someone could find you if they really wanted to. Surely you realize that all that information has already been archived, so there's no point in trying to remove it. But you didn't really leave yourself that wide open in the first place, did you? Drop me a line, bro. Let's get this cleared up before it gets even uglier.
posted by Buzz at 8:40 AM on November 15, 2005

Buzz, good on you for offering him an opportunity to come clean and explain himself. Matt's pulled his posting priveleges so you might want to email him directly. Though I can't find an email addy for him now. There might be one in all that ugliness that is the MySpace page.

This should be picked up by the news folks.
posted by fenriq at 9:49 AM on November 15, 2005

fenriq: that's a brilliant idea. Perhaps some of the victims would like to pitch their story to the Bakersfield news departments.

KBAK-TV 29 . . . CBS
KBFX-LP 58 . . . FOX
KERO-TV 23 . . . ABC
KGET-TV 17 . . . NBC

I don't know which of those, if any, have locally produced news segments, but that "mystery gift card" seems like it would pique their interest, especially given the surrounding activities.
posted by I Love Tacos at 9:59 AM on November 15, 2005 [1 favorite]

My favourite AskMe. Ever.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:20 PM on November 15, 2005 [1 favorite]

Try this email address, it was the same used in the paypal transaction:

He was responding to my email messages up through yesterday, but nothing since. Need to wait 10 days before I can contact ebay fraud, will do so then. Maybe my negative feedback will keep him from doing any more damage under his current account. Guess nothing can stop him from setting up shop again.
posted by m5biemer at 3:01 PM on November 15, 2005

m5: can you ptu a link to this URL in the feedback?
posted by delmoi at 3:20 PM on November 15, 2005 [1 favorite]

Who wants to bet Aaron is still reading this thread?

I doubt he'll surface to explain his side of the story. But this page currently ranks among the top results of a Google search for "airnxtz." I presume his friends and family know his AOL/AIM handle, his MySpade ID, etc. You'd be surprised how many people indulge "ego searches" on Google for people they know...Aaron.

Your eBay feedback should scare away future bidders; but what you should really consider is the possibility that someone you know -- a friend, maybe a potential date or ex-girlfriend -- will search for your AIM handle and find this thread. Gossip spreads fast. Being reviled by strangers on the internet is one thing...but if people you actually know begin thinking you're a coward and a crook, that's a whole 'nother story.

That's what I'd be thinking about, if I were you.
posted by cribcage at 3:44 PM on November 15, 2005

There's got to be some way to get this guy investigated for mail fraud. Seriously.
posted by agropyron at 5:40 PM on November 15, 2005

We could always fight fire with fire, overbidding on every one of his auctions with a new, bogus account. That way, we protect the otherwise clueless bidders about to step into his remarkably expensive traps.
posted by disillusioned at 5:57 PM on November 15, 2005 [1 favorite]

Just to let you all know, I have been in email contact with him today. He contacted me this morning, from the aol address listed above. I haven't received permission to post his side of the story here, but I would like to remind everyone that there is more than enough information available that any interested law enforcement agency could track him down with ease, if that actually becomes necessary. I'd also like to stress something that everyone surely knows already, which is that attempting to deliver vigilante justice to the guy would probably be a very bad idea.

I'm trying to keep an open mind about the whole thing, and not jump to any conclusions before I have all the facts. I'm still holding out a sliver of hope that this is all an incredibly improbable misunderstanding. With any kind of luck it will get resolved without anyone else doing something stupid. I hope you'll all agree that there wouldn't be much harm in giving it some time, instead of rushing to escalate the situation.
posted by Buzz at 6:43 PM on November 15, 2005

WTF? Someone bid $482 for an unseen $500 gift card?

By bidding on this item, buyer agrees seller is not responsible for lost/damaged packages or errors made by USPS. If USPS loses item or buyer recieves it damaged, seller will refund 1/4 of final bid price, as an act of sympathy
posted by blag at 6:54 PM on November 15, 2005 [1 favorite]

I haven't received permission to post his side of the story here...
Oh, please. What, is it copyrighted? If the guy really emailed you, then post it. If he didn't -- or if he did, but you're going to respect some imaginary line of etiquette about AskMe scams -- then just don't post at all. "I know a secret, but I can't tell you." Lame.
I hope you'll all agree that there wouldn't be much harm in giving it some time, instead of rushing to escalate the situation.
Tell that to the guy who's already mailed his money order, waiting to see whether his laptop will arrive. The escalation ship has sailed.
posted by cribcage at 7:14 PM on November 15, 2005

Buzz, would you like to purchase my mystery gift card?
posted by I Love Tacos at 7:22 PM on November 15, 2005

I hope you'll all agree that there wouldn't be much harm in giving it some time, instead of rushing to escalate the situation.

I don't agree with this at all. Every day that goes by, it becomes more likely that AirN XTZ/AirN UPW/airnxtz/airupw/Aaron has spent the profits of his scams.
posted by I Love Tacos at 7:24 PM on November 15, 2005

To say nothing of the fact that:
I haven't received permission to post his side of the story here...
...doesn't jive with:
Hey Aaron, if the lynch mob here is somehow mistaken and you'd like to defend yourself, send me an email at, and I'll post it here for you.
posted by cribcage at 8:04 PM on November 15, 2005

Post it!
posted by sjvilla79 at 8:10 AM on November 16, 2005

Update on the laptop scam, I am confident now that it is a scam, in case anyone was wondering...

Airnxtz emailed me last nite, said that the computer and the cash were stolen out of his car, and that he was going to somehow pay me back--I had posted a negative feedback for him yesterday on ebay declaring him a fraud and scammer--he assures me that this in not accurate. Funny how his reply to me resembles his postings on this site over the weekend regarding the stolen cash and laptop. Maybe he could give me a copy of the police report-would definitely be grand larceny, worthy of reporting to the local authorities.

His email came from If I knew how to post his replies on this site, I would do so. If someone can help, please advise.
posted by m5biemer at 8:35 AM on November 16, 2005

Now I'm really starting to worry about that body disposal post.
posted by hugsnkisses at 8:51 AM on November 16, 2005 [3 favorites]

If you used PayPal and paid via credit card, dispute the charges with your credit card company. They will then reverse the charges.

You will then lose your PayPal account, unfortunately, and possibly your EBay account, but you won't be out three grand. Airnxtz, however, will still be on the hook for $3K. He'll just be on the hook to PayPal/EBay, and they have bigger lawyers than you do. Let them sue him, so you don't have to.
posted by solid-one-love at 8:54 AM on November 16, 2005 [1 favorite]

Fingers too fast on the submit button...

Pointing to this thread in your negative feedback to him would be useful, too. It would also probably be a good idea to e-mail SafeHarbour with the URLs of airnxtz's threads on Metafilter.

And I don't think it would be out of order to contact the District Attorney for Bakersfield and to contact the Postmaster and file mail fraud charges.

Through his posts here, he has shown strong evidence of intend to defraud.

But first thing's first: contact your credit card company. Often you will be unable to dispute the charges after 30 days, so start the process now.
posted by solid-one-love at 8:59 AM on November 16, 2005

m5biemer: Posting his emails here shouldn't be difficult; just cut and paste. If you need help, feel free to forward them to me and I'll post them for you. My email is in my profile (click on cribcage below).

You've already posted feedback...but you can add a second line by posting a Follow-Up comment to that feedback. It will appear immediately below your current feedback in Aaron's profile. Just cut and paste the URL from this thread:

I don't know that eBay allows URLs in feedback, but it's worth a shot.
posted by cribcage at 9:28 AM on November 16, 2005

I had some friends fall victim to this sort of thing recently, although not on ebay. One had this to say:

Fraud complaints with Visa cards *require* you block the card and they should be filed with your financial institution areawithin 60 days (2 statement cycles) of the charge showing on your card. Depending on how the transaction was performed (meaning which transaction code was used) a fraud claim may or may not require an affidavit of loss/fraud (which has to be notarized).

OTOH, you can also file a claim for not receiving the merchandise (as opposed to fraud) and avoid blocking your card. All you have to do in that case is demonstrate you attempted to resolve the issue with the merchant and were unsuccessful. If the amount is small (under $50 or so) your financial institution may very well give you a permanent credit for the amount, then attempt to force a chargeback on your behalf to recoup their loss. Amounts perm credited will vary by financial institution, but the Visa regs are pretty straightforward and your financial institution can assist you in attempting to recover your loss.

You could also file a claim at the Internet Fraud Complaint Center and there's a good page of advice here about appealing to Paypal, including some handy links to other law enforcement sites.

Additionally there's a whole mess of information about the guy a few posts up, whilst harassment is not the smartest thing it might not hurt to call his college and make some enquiries.
posted by hugsnkisses at 9:51 AM on November 16, 2005

Well, Buzz: is that good enough for you?
posted by blag at 10:02 AM on November 16, 2005

Interesting wording for the title of this post, no?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:02 AM on November 16, 2005

Well, Buzz: is that good enough for you?

At this point, yeah, it is. Believe me, I enjoy a good ol' metafilter pile-on as much as the next guy, particularly when it's fuelled by perfectly justifiable indignation. The entertainment therein is truly the best of the web. I just don't see how it would help this situation, though, so I'm not willing to stoke that fire at this point in time.

Look, if Aaron is guilty, he knows it, and he knows that he's screwed up enough that he's never going to get away with it. If he's innocent, as improbable as that seems, then he deserves the benefit of the doubt. In either case he deserves an opportunity to get out of the mess he's in, and to try to make things right. That's my motivation. I know it doesn't do anything to satisfy the bloodlust in here, but I don't think that's really the important issue yet.
posted by Buzz at 11:14 AM on November 16, 2005

Now he's trying to tell me that he will have to make payments to me as restitution, he does not have the cash or the laptop, both were stolen. Unfortunately, with all the ground work he laid here before the actual ebay transaction, this is just part of the scam. I have asked him for a copy of the police report he must have filed, I know I would be filing one if someone broke into my car and stole over $5k of stuff!!

Unfortunately, under ebay rules, you have to wait 10 days to complain about non-receipt of an item you purchase, so I will have to wait until Nov 20th to start the process.
posted by m5biemer at 12:00 PM on November 16, 2005

You've tragically missed the point, if you think this thread is about indignation or bloodlust. It's about doing something productive: establishing an archive to represent airnxtz, to establish exactly what he is, for future (and present) victims as well as his friends and family.

Maybe he emailed you. Maybe he didn't. I tend to believe the latter; but regardless, unless you have something more to contribute than patting yourself on the back, keep it to yourself. If I'm going to keep someone's secrets, I don't begin by announcing that they told me.

I'm confident Aaron is still reading this thread -- and we all know, innocent people scream bloody murder when they're wrongly accused. If he wanted to post, he could email you, he could email someone else...hell, he could blow another $5 on a new login. But he hasn't. His abrupt disappearance speaks volumes: It's exactly the result you expect when you shine a flashlight on a cockroach.
posted by cribcage at 12:10 PM on November 16, 2005

m5biemer: eBay's policies suck.

You said that you paid via PayPal. Did you transfer money from a checking account or PayPal account, or did you use a credit card? If the latter, you should be OK. Contact the issuing bank's fraud department, and tell them you want to file a complaint immediately.

The funniest thing about all this...? When Aaron pretended he was the victim, I advised him there was probably no recourse. That's no longer true. We've cobbled together quite a damning trail, here -- largely thanks to I Love Tacos -- and it's exactly the sort of unique story that can grab the interest of a bored detective. Like I said before: If I were him, at this point, I'd worry about offline, real-world ramifications.
posted by cribcage at 12:17 PM on November 16, 2005

Buzz: This thread isn't only about fire stoking or indignation; it's about helping m5biemer get his/her cash back. By making as much noise as possible about this fraud, we are helping to solve the problem that we may have (inadvertantly) assisted. We're reminding Aaron that he's not getting away with anything, we're finding out as much information on him as possible to assist in any recovery efforts, and, as cribcage points out, we're creating a Google-able record of his activities to help prevent future fraud. Yes, I'm pissed off. So are others. But we're channelling this anger into something useful, and any further information you can provide us with will help. If not, shut up with the "I know something you don't know" stuff.

If he's innocent, as improbable as that seems, then he deserves the benefit of the doubt.

You seriously believe this? He posts a message about "What recourse is available if an eBay scammer claims to have the product stolen from out of his car?" and then, miraculously, the same thing happens to him the following week? You're defending the indefensible.

OK, onto productive stuff: m5biemer: any further information you can provide on this chap will help. Do you have a copy of his full name, for example? What email address/ real address was used for the PayPal transaction?

According to his Myspace profile, he was kicked out of Bakersfield High in 1998. There are no students named Aaron listed on their 1998 alumni list though someone named "Aaron Graham" graduated in 1999. Again, according to Myspace he then moved to West High (fantastic flash intro). Sadly I couldn't find any alumni information on their site.

The CSU Bakersfield site seems like it could be useful; sadly the campus directory only lists academic staff but I'll keep looking. I'm tempted to email everyone in the Psychology department with a photo of him to see if they can help to identify him. Don't know whether that's crossing the line, though... I guess if I just say that I'm a long-lost friend they may help.

What was that creepy site that provides personal information on anyone for a small fee? Did we get in touch with the other laptop purchaser?
posted by blag at 1:37 PM on November 16, 2005

The email address I have is the That was the one given in the ebay auction closing.

I fortunately used a credit card for my paypal payment. I had to go after another ebayer 2 years ago and was able to get 100% of my funds back. I just hate to see someone or some organization lose to the scammers. We all end up paying for it in the long run.
posted by m5biemer at 2:52 PM on November 16, 2005

He's responded to your feedback:

Reply by airnxtz: item was STOLEN from my posession, seller is being REFUNDED

posted by blag at 4:33 PM on November 16, 2005

Just as an update, I've talked to the Bakersfield police department and I'm awaiting a call back from a detective in the computer crime detail. It sounds like there is at least $10k in fraud here, given several fake laptop sales and all these bogus $500 gift cards.

He's definitely posting from a real Bakersfield Road Runner cable modem address. I'll keep everyone updated on the progress.
posted by mathowie at 5:04 PM on November 16, 2005 [13 favorites]

hugsnkisses wrote: Fraud complaints with Visa cards *require* you block the card....

Most likely that's referring specifically to credit card fraud, in which the charging of the card is itself the fraudulent act, so that wouldn't apply here.

posted by nobody at 5:42 PM on November 16, 2005

Heh. Good work, matt.
posted by blag at 5:45 PM on November 16, 2005

Yeah. I'd be pissed if someone were using my site to learn how better to commit fraud, too.
posted by Justinian at 1:06 AM on November 17, 2005

Just to set the record straight regarding airnxtz's response to my negative feedback, there is a catch to the phrase "the seller is being refunded"--he's asked me accept a payment plan from him, in other words, there is no money to pay me back. How stupid does one have to be to leave a laptop and cash in a car, you're inviting it to be stolen. When pushed about getting a copy of a police report, he basically states that the theft has not been reported as the police would be powerless to help him, even alluding to the fact that his apartment had been broken into recently as well.

Does anyone really think this is a legitimate attempt to refund my money?? I think not.
posted by m5biemer at 8:31 AM on November 17, 2005

It seems to me that at the very least you would want to police to come out and generate a report to cover your ass. Stupid scammer
posted by Cool Alex at 8:55 AM on November 17, 2005

Isn't it wonderful how eBay, even after having umpteen people email them this thread, still hasn't banned the guy's account? How can they even pretend to be serious about fraud on their site when something obvious like this just slips right through the cracks (or is deliberately ignored).
posted by MegoSteve at 10:37 AM on November 17, 2005

Just want to say thanks to matthowie. I JUST recieved a response from eBay's Fraud department this morning where they give me a canned spam message referring to how to report questionable messages found on their bulletin boards. After I gave them a long and detailed email describing how I came to learn about airnxtz's activities and what I am concerned he may be up to (this was before we were aware of the two laptop sales).

I left a very terse response that they should actually read my email again, but I'm not holding my breath. No wonder scammers feel they can get away with it.
posted by cavalier at 10:51 AM on November 17, 2005

m5biemer: I don't know whether Matt has emailed you, but the reply above from mathowie is from the owner of this website. If Matt is taking a personal interest in contacting the police about airnxtz...well, that's pretty much the atom bomb, as far as MetaFilter is concerned.

Obviously Aaron can't give you a police report about a theft that didn't happen; and if anyone is uncertain about whether Aaron's car might really have been vandalized, I'd direct them to the very top of this thread.

Buzz: If you really did receive any emails from Aaron, you may as well post them. Whatever you hoped to accomplish by "luring" Aaron into a deadfall is now moot; if Matt's on the case, he has the means to identify Aaron far beyond what you or I could ever deduce by poring over Google.
posted by cribcage at 11:11 AM on November 17, 2005 [1 favorite]

The next step, I'd think, would be to make a lovely little Googlebomb for this whole affair or possibly even a Wiki or add it to whatever eBay scam wiki is already being created.

Mathowie, thanks for that update. I'm glad that this is being pursued by the authorities.

cavalier, I honestly don't think anyone ever reads those emails. Its frustrating that they create the system and then completely ignore it. Perhaps the write up of this affair could include some mention of eBay's non-participation in tracking down a crooked seller?
posted by fenriq at 11:36 AM on November 17, 2005

Wow, this was an amazing thread. Way to go, gang.
posted by dejah420 at 11:48 AM on November 17, 2005

I think I heard airnxtz say, "...and I'd have gotten away with it, too! If it weren't for them nosey kids. And their dog!"
posted by Doohickie at 12:13 PM on November 17, 2005 [1 favorite]

I wonder if Buzz = airnxtz.

In either case he deserves an opportunity to get out of the mess he's in, and to try to make things right.

No he does not. If he is innocent, he will not be prosecuted.

If he is guilty, no way does he deserve to get out of the mess. We have evidence that he has time and again screwed people over. There is no reason to believe that he won't do it so long as he continues to get away with it.

His victims deserve justice. Quit protecting him.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:21 PM on November 17, 2005

m5biemer: I believe that Aaron is sincere about wanting to repay you, because he's starting to realize that he's in a pretty tight spot and he wants to find a way out of it. I also believe that he is, once again, sadly mistaken about how to accomplish his goal. You should definitely get your money refunded through your credit card issuer. Whatever you do, don't accept any payment plans from Aaron short of "all of my money, right now." If I were you, I'd think long and hard about even accepting that from him, at this point, were he to offer it.

Cribcage: You're right. I haven't been in contact with Aaron at all. I was just trying to toot my own horn, long and loud, so I could feel like I was playing a valuable part in this thing. I don't know what I was thinking. I'm sorry. It's a good thing that Matt's on the case now. Maybe he should baninate me for being so fucking obnoxious.
posted by Buzz at 12:32 PM on November 17, 2005

Cavalier--Meg Whitman's e-mail is, supposedly, Maybe a message to the top about their lax fraud practices would do some good?
posted by jrossi4r at 12:37 PM on November 17, 2005

If I were you, I'd think long and hard about even accepting that from him, at this point, were he to offer it.

Uh, why?
posted by Specklet at 12:39 PM on November 17, 2005 [1 favorite]

Buzz, the money that airnxtz stole from the most recent laptop auction is still warm from being in m5's wallet, and you want to give him the benefit of the doubt? The auction closed November 10! That was only a week ago. If you are so stupid as to think somehow airnxtz has had some amazing revelation while simulataneously blowing through m5's $2500 this week, you really should consider shutting the fuck up.
posted by MegoSteve at 12:41 PM on November 17, 2005

Fixed EE's link:

CellBlock C5 Representin yall!
posted by cavalier at 1:29 PM on November 17, 2005

Someone claiming to be Buzz has been emailing me for the past few days, explaining that he was trying to trick Aaron into revealing his full name and address. I replied that I thought he was wasting his time; and that, as I said here, I thought our best option was to provide an archive of Aaron's activity for m5biemer and future victims.

His last email said something about, "Thanks for playing along." I answered that I had no idea whether those emails were actually coming from Buzz or someone else, and I wasn't "playing along"; I was replying honestly, and I thought he should stop screwing around. Having read the mewling reply from Buzz above, I'm now confident that (1) he's the same person who sent me those emails, and (2) he never had any contact with Aaron.

If I'm wrong, Buzz, posting those emails here could help m5biemer, any other victims who might be reading, and Matt. Now that your charade is blown, I don't see any down side. If I'm right, however, I hope you'll take the attention whoring elsewhere. Either way: Any future emails will be deleted, unread. Public discussions should remain public. This isn't about you; it's about trying to help m5biemer.

(On preview, cavalier: "Who's BAD?!?")
posted by cribcage at 1:32 PM on November 17, 2005

Someone claiming to be Buzz has been emailing me for the past few days, explaining that he was... I replied that I thought...

You could really escalate the situation by posting those emails!

This isn't about you; it's about trying to help m5biemer.

You are absolutely right about that. For me it's also about trying to help a young guy who's gotten himself into a really big mess in front of what can be one of the most brutal and resourceful audiences on the internet. Of course you are under no obligation to play along with any of that.

One thing we're all pretty sure about is that some guy was unable to think through the potential consequences of some unquestionably stupid actions, so he came to us asking for help. It's a damned ironic story and a fascinating public spectacle, even with attention whores like you and me trying to steal the show, don't you think?
posted by Buzz at 3:17 PM on November 17, 2005 [1 favorite]

Buzz, he didn't come here asking for help to get himself out of the mess he created, he came here looking for help to keep from getting caught.
posted by fenriq at 5:05 PM on November 17, 2005

Exactly: This wasn't like a drug addict coming to us for help kicking a habit, it was like one coming here for tips on the best way to maximize mugging revenue to support the habit.
posted by Justinian at 5:21 PM on November 17, 2005

Still online? As in still has a functioning computer? If I were him I would have placed my HD's near some VERY large magnets about 100 comments ago...

...not that it will do any good.
posted by starman at 7:52 PM on November 17, 2005

That is obvious, fenriq, and it's a large part of what makes the irony of the situation so compelling. I mean no offense by pointing that out to you, nor do I mean to insult anyone's intelligence by bringing up the old maxim about how the help we want isn't always the help we need.

There is more than enough information here for any reasonable person to conclude that Aaron will almost certainly have to answer to someone for the alleged fraud that has been committed in his name. If the Bakersfield police decide not to pursue the matter, then someone at eBay, UPS, the USPS, Paypal, a police department in the city of one of the victims, or someone else with jurisdiction and/or a legitimate grievance may be interested enough to take the ball and run with it.

In the event that none of those agencies step up, I remain hopeful that none of our fearless keyboard warriors will decide to put in a personal appearance in meatspace, with the intent to deliver justice on their own. I know that's not very likely to happen, but if it does come down to that, I sure hope that the brave mefi avengers decide that it's also a good idea to blog their exploits for everyone's continued entertainment!
posted by Buzz at 8:24 PM on November 17, 2005

Just thought I'd chime in a little late, seeing as this imbrogio is still ongoing.

Here's what Aaron looks like:

This was posted on the Bakotopia Web site, a meet and greet site for Bakersfield, CA.
posted by killdevil at 9:14 PM on November 17, 2005

No, WTF? cribcage, cavalier, fenriq and others:

This is medieval. As guilty as the guy appears, this is a school book example of a lynch mob, with address and pictures posted and the defending part being deprived the right to talk. MeFi with all its liberal voices should be able to stay above that. He has been reported to ebay and to the police. Now let them do their job.

The fact that you are directing this mob will surely be used against you in future political discussions. Buzz, kudos to you.
posted by springload at 3:17 AM on November 18, 2005

I've tried to keep the players straight in this drama. Buzz and springload, whatever your motivation to "help" airntx, I think you're misguided. I thought from the first set of posts that this was a scammer trying to get better at his business.

I fell victim to a scammer on a laptop "deal," too. eBay and PayPal were less than helpful; in fact, I would say that they did many things to enable the fraud. One email from a PayPal insider helped me--but was at first strongly denied by PayPal to have ever happened. I had saved EVERY correspondence, however.

My problem was that I live in the US, the scammer was in Burnaby, BC. The Internet Fraud link someone else posted above helps in the US, not across borders. But the Better Business Bureau in BC had an ex-RCMP there. He got on the case--not to help in my particular case, but to keep this from happening again.

The scammers take advantage of the distance and the overwhelming load of cases police have to contend with daily. This guy in Bakersfield--yeah, I know, innocent until proved, etc--deserves the piling on, which, in my opinion, serves as an innoculation for the rest of the populace. Scammers use unethical means to ply their trade. The various tactics here in some cases skirt the ethical (I would not have posted pictures--what if airntx has hijacked "Aaron"'s identity, too? Unlikely, but possible. So, the rest of the stuff, google-bombs etc, are fair game against this scum, er, scam artist.

The last message I got from "my" scammer, as the RCMP were closing in, was that he was going to refund my money (it was a mass mailing to all of his "customers" who had been affected by the "theft" that occurred at his warehouse); all I had to do was giv ehim my bank routing and account numbers and he would make a deposit.

Unfortunately for him, all of my banking was tied up in Nigerian trust fund transfers right then.
posted by beelzbubba at 5:41 AM on November 18, 2005

Yes, I really can't understand the holier than thou vibe from Buzz and springload. Will this help? "You guys are AWESOME! You are saints ! Ghandi is thumbs up in your direction!"

Now in the really real world, with the really real problems, we are uniquely in the capacity to actually effect change here as opposed to the multitude of political and theoretical discussions taken on MeFi. Someone has done wrong, and the institution he has wronged in (EBay) is seemingly unable or unwilling to step up in a timely fashion. The EBay buyers - no 'fense, m5 - have proven to be likeable targets for this guy. While a bit of the macho posturing with the pictures I admit is a bit... juvenile.. it's kind of a steam let-off after all this time discussing the issue.

Let's be frank. Intentional or not , the guy dialed his moral compass to sub-civilization. What his final objective is? Not my call, that's somebody higher up. But what we are already aware of he dialed his moral compass to sub-civ. It is our responsibility, as civilization, to correct him before he continues to do such activities that cause further harm and damage to society.

And how about this apple. The guy used our house to further plan and test his activities. I don't know how that sits on your lap but it pisses me the hell off. So yeah, there's some ire in the audience tonight, but I believe the vibe you're aiming for is a low dose of righteous fury.

We do not have the power to arrest him ourselves -- but we have the power to provide as much information as possible to make him as infamous as possible and to serve as a warning to other mesheguna daft enough to come to our house to set up a crime.
posted by cavalier at 6:07 AM on November 18, 2005 [1 favorite]

beelzbubba: The problems about law enforcement are real in many cases, but not in this one, as he is in the US. I'm not trying to help him, and I despice his actions as much as anyone. It's excellent that MetaFilter members dug this out, and he should be taken to justice and be forced to pay for what he's done. It's the primitive revenge that I object. The only reason I can see for posting pictures is to subject the guy to the threat of beside-the-law reprimands.

And cribcage: No, you are not helping m5biemer. Bring it all to the police. If nothing happens then, you may have a case, but you are also living in anarchy and need to do something about it.

I'm not saying there are any laws about the treatment of criminals on internet forums, but in circumstances where such laws exist and apply, they are considered fundamental parts of civility, not to be disputed on a case-to-case basis. I think we could try and keep up that kind of civility on Metafilter too.

This might all come out very self-righteous, and I'm sure that if I was screwed over, I would also want gruel revenge and punishment. That is in itself a reason I shouldn't be the one to inflict that punishment. Law and police are there to make sure that the punishment is the same regardless of how angry I am, if the criminal is an HA boss or if the victim manages to whip up a huge posse. And though I am grumpy about this principle when the ability for revenge is in my hands, I ultimately think it is a good thing.
posted by springload at 6:39 AM on November 18, 2005

As guilty as the guy appears, this is a school book example of a lynch mob.

Except for the crowd of people on horseback. And the rope. And the tree... Come on, admit it: Calling this thread a lynch mob is a wild exaggeration.
posted by Doohickie at 7:09 AM on November 18, 2005

I'm just very glad that the police have been notified about Aaron / AirN XTZ / Airn UPW / airnxtz / airnupw's fraud, and that Bakersfield is a small enough city that they're reasonably likely to care.

Even if m5biemer gets his money refunded by credit cards/paypal/ebay, he makes a good point that fraudsters really do hurt all of us.
posted by I Love Tacos at 7:29 AM on November 18, 2005

You say lynch mob. I say cavalry.
posted by jrossi4r at 7:36 AM on November 18, 2005 [1 favorite]

As guilty as the guy appears, this is a school book example of a lynch mob.

Let's stop pretending the guy isn't a criminal. Do I really need to remind you about the $500/mystery gift card?

I'm for due process as much as the next guy, but there's not a lot of mystery here. The only real question remaining is "when will the police arrest his sorry ass?", and I don't expect that to happen soon.

The wheels of justice grind slowly, but here's to hoping we can grease em up good.
posted by I Love Tacos at 7:49 AM on November 18, 2005

The lamest thing about the $500 give card is that he could have simply fulfilled his end of the 'bargain' by sending her a $5 GC.

It's still a complete hose-job, but he would have lived up to his end of the 'deal'.
posted by unixrat at 8:11 AM on November 18, 2005

Would you believe I got tagged for a feedback-survey for my EBay email?

I used to work in a company where if an awful survey came back management had to contact the customer.

I want you to know I'm pressing "Disagree Strongly" as hard as I possibly can.
posted by cavalier at 8:13 AM on November 18, 2005 [1 favorite]

Springload and Buzz, are you even reading the same site the rest of us are? Put aside the fact that some idiot has attempted to use (as previously put) our house to further his illegal activities, it's not like people are calling for a SA-style drive-by. In fact, I don't believe that anyone in all the discussion here has exclaimed a sentiment for anything stronger than "this guy should be punished by law".

"you are also living in anarchy and need to do something about it ... in circumstances where such laws exist and apply, they are considered fundamental parts of civility, not to be disputed on a case-to-case basis."

I mean, what? We've been through deal of whether Mefi members should be outed on the internet (answer: no, it's wanky) but it's an entirely different issue when it comes to hunting down publicly available information offered up by a guy who's used this site to steal over $2500.

This isn't like a news article where you can postulate that maybe the rapist just slipped and fell into her, we know that this guy is guilty beyond all reasonable doubt.

And yet we're still not doing anything "worse" than posting random profile pictures. Get over it.
posted by hugsnkisses at 8:24 AM on November 18, 2005

I'm amazed the profile pictures have survived. My comment was deleted just because I said I was a Republican. ;-)
posted by cribcage at 8:35 AM on November 18, 2005

I Love Tacos writes "I'm for due process as much as the next guy, but there's not a lot of mystery here."

I'd like to point out that this is, in fact, due process in action. I'm not sure what planet buzz and springload live on, but all that was done here was that people put together evidence of a crime and sent it to the police. No one in this thread has any real power to prosecute or to sentence, so presumptions of guilt are completely allowed. If this were a jury selection room, then maybe the hand-wringing would be justified, but as it stands, citizens have done what citizens should do when confronted by the overwhelming evidence of a crime having been/being committed.
posted by OmieWise at 10:31 AM on November 18, 2005

I Love Tacos and OmieWise:

If I were him, outed with pictures and googlebombed, I'd be scared for real about getting beaten up badly. Those things aren't putting together evidence and sending it to the police. That's putting together ID information so that anyone can think out some nasty punishment. Which I think is bad.

And also, can anyone possibly be this stupid? He's doing everything in the clumsiest way you can imagine. I'm still not absolutely sure he isn't a smart guy framing someone he doesn't like.
posted by springload at 11:20 AM on November 18, 2005

springload: And also, can anyone possibly be this stupid?

I'll save you some time. If ever you feel the need to ask this question again, regardless of the situation, the answer is yes.

Very late to the thread, but a hearty "great work" to the MeFi Justice Force and best wishes to the victims.
posted by Sinner at 11:43 AM on November 18, 2005

springload writes "I'd be scared for real about getting beaten up badly."

It's possible, I don't discount the possiblity, but no one here has advocated that, and there are as many chances for that to happen in life to innocent people as there are here in this thread. Don't forget that part of the issue here is that the possiblities for the justice system taking up this case are sadly attenuated. The thread is worth it to help other people avoid losing their money to the creepy ebay seller.
posted by OmieWise at 11:46 AM on November 18, 2005

Springload, I think he's going to be okay, really: Case study the first. You're vastly overestimating both the level of investment people have on this and the general preponderance for violence amongst mefites. [wildly disliked slightly trollish member] went to a meetup and didn't get anything more than a slight cold shouldering for goodness sake!

I'm not even going to get into the benefits of scammers fearing social justice if they rip people off online.
posted by hugsnkisses at 11:57 AM on November 18, 2005

springload: I'd be scared for real about getting beaten up badly.

Also, perhaps you haven't had a chance to look at the pictures of him posted in this thread and to peruse his myspace profile? Although he does have a legitimate interest in the quiet art of "reading," his other two listed hobbies are "kickboxing [and] working out."

I don't think he's got much reason to be scared of the unwashed but CRT/LCD-tanned MeFi masses.
posted by Sinner at 11:57 AM on November 18, 2005 [1 favorite]

springload, while I wouldn't really be overly upset if Aaron got a little physical retribution for his scams, that's certainly not what I've been after at all. I want him to be stopped and I want his scamming to be made public so that more people can avoid being scammed by people like him.

And yes, people can be this stupid but I do try to keep in mind that people are also extraordinarily devious creatures and it IS possible that the real scammer dude is just using Aaron and his accounts. But then it wouldn't be especially hard for Aaron to email Matt directly with his side.

Funny how that hasn't happened yet. I wonder why. Oh wait, no I don't.
posted by fenriq at 1:14 PM on November 18, 2005

This isn't some harmless pothead getting busted with an eighth. Real people have been hurt by this and Aaron was counting on his crimes slipping through the cracks. For all we know he would have taken tens of thousands of dollars over the next few decades, knowing that his 'penny-antie' antics wouln't be worth investigating.

Meanwhile real people are out $500-$2.5k per shot. That's a lot of money.
posted by delmoi at 2:39 PM on November 18, 2005

I love it! Crime fighters of the internet. You people could really do some damage if you wanted to and make a difference. Well done.
posted by codeofconduct at 12:55 PM on November 19, 2005

Sinner wrote: Also, perhaps you haven't had a chance to look at the pictures of him posted in this thread and to peruse his myspace profile? Although he does have a legitimate interest in the quiet art of "reading," his other two listed hobbies are "kickboxing [and] working out."

I don't think he's got much reason to be scared of the unwashed but CRT/LCD-tanned MeFi masses.

Heh. Not that I advocate the outright kicking of ass, your assumptions are rather stupid and offensive. I know that a lot of MeFites are quite active, myself included. You might be a pasty, skinny CRT-tanned dork, but I'm a rather large, hyperactive mammal who is quite comfortable with heavy exercise and being out and about in the sun.

If I were Aaron I'd be worried, pasty geeks or no. Besides, pasty geeks have potato cannons, fire in god-like quantities, and huge lasers.
posted by loquacious at 5:24 PM on November 19, 2005 [1 favorite]

it's threads like this that make me thing the internet might actually have a redeeming social value after all.
posted by tiamat at 5:49 PM on November 19, 2005

thing --> think

posted by tiamat at 5:51 PM on November 19, 2005

This thread has taken on a life of it's own. I hope we get that mofo! What a jerk.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:05 PM on November 19, 2005 [1 favorite]

loquacious: Not that I advocate the outright kicking of ass, your assumptions are rather stupid and offensive.

Well, yeah. First, you're right - those potato cannons can leave quite a nasty bruise. And the lasers? What's to say.

In all - well, more - seriousness, however, I'm sure you're right that there are some bad-ass motherfuckers around here, as evidenced by a recent martial arts-related thread. But I think it's reasonable to say that the Metafilter community for the most part is self-selected from a group that doesn't tend towards violence and isn't really Bakersfield-centric. Add to that the fact that virtually no one in the thread advocated any real-world punishment of the sticks-n-stones variety by the community and I think you can comfortably assume that the odds were stacked against an out-and-out brawl.

And if you're wondering, I'm also pretty active - and my tan, well, I'm afraid it's a combination of mostly natural sun, with decent helpings of fake-n-bake and shoe polish added in for effect. Sorry I can't give more detail, but the exact formula's a secret.
posted by Sinner at 6:31 PM on November 20, 2005

*twitching for a mathowie update*

*or is that twitching due to crt radiation tanning?*

posted by cavalier at 6:04 AM on November 21, 2005

Turned over to paypal this morning, we'll see what happens from here. I have another email address for airnxtz, but if I'm reading the ebay rules correctly, I'm not supposed to disclose it. If someone can clarify that, please let me know and I will be happy to post the address.

Thanks for all your input.
posted by m5biemer at 6:41 AM on November 21, 2005

Email Matt (mathowie) and ask him if he needs it. As mentioned he's contacted Bakersfield PD already. Anyways, I think eBay's Terms of Use "guidelines" are trumped by fraud and theft.

If eBay has a problem with that I certainly wouldn't use them ever again.
posted by loquacious at 6:56 AM on November 21, 2005

Just reviewed my paypal transaction history, apparently the airnxtz account holder is someone named armen asl. Hope that might help anyone trying to track him down. Thanks again for the outpouring of support.
posted by m5biemer at 7:24 AM on November 21, 2005

Latest email, which promises me a copy of the Bakersfield police report regarding the stolen laptop, comes from I think that's the other ebay email account I referred to earlier today. I will check the home computer tonite and post again if there is another address available.
posted by m5biemer at 12:52 PM on November 21, 2005

Hmm. The Bakersfield police never got back to me after an initial call and explanation. They told me to bother them again if a couple days passed and they hadn't called back. I guess it sounds like they're doing something directly connected to ebay buyers, so that's good to hear.
posted by mathowie at 9:20 PM on November 21, 2005

m5biemer: Have you emailed eBay about the auction yet? I was wondering what their response was, because airnxtz hasn't been suspended yet.
posted by MegoSteve at 7:57 AM on November 22, 2005

MegoSteve--ebay will only let me file through paypal, as I used paypal for payment. I cannot find another way to notify them of the fraudulent seller.

If anyone has suggestions, please let me know.

My latest email message from our friend airnxtz states that he has contacted the Jax, FL police dept and charging me with harrassment with intent to do bodily harm. What a freaking' fruitcake this nutball is.
posted by m5biemer at 8:42 AM on November 22, 2005

Googling "ebay fraud report" gives you the, uh, Online Fraud Complaint Report form.

Looks like he's attempting damage control. Remember to save every copy of any correspondance you have with him.

Also remember (you too airnxtz) that Frivolous Lawsuits/Abuse Of Process/Vexatious Litigation are punishable under Federal Law. You could contact the police department to see if he's doing a Jack Thompson, who knows, he might have given them his full name.
posted by hugsnkisses at 9:41 AM on November 22, 2005

I just tried to post a fraud complaint on ebay, but because 30 days has not yet transpired, the system would not allow me to complete the process. Any other suggestions?
posted by m5biemer at 12:44 PM on November 22, 2005

You could try emailing the president of eBay North America at
posted by MegoSteve at 3:57 PM on November 22, 2005

My latest email message from our friend airnxtz states that he has contacted the Jax, FL police dept and charging me with harrassment with intent to do bodily harm. What a freaking' fruitcake this nutball is.
Amen. I'm glad to see you can find a measure of humor in the antics of this coward.

I hope Matt follows up with another phone call to the Bakersfield PD; I'm sure I don't have to tell you that cops, like most people, tend to be lazy and don't often leap into action unless prodded. If Bakersfield is really a small town, the spin should be that since we're talking about a significant crime spree with fairly substantial proof, it ought to grease some officer's promotion to detective.

If not...well, we all know that although criminals don't always get caught for every crime they commit, they invariably repeat their mistakes and hang themselves eventually. I have no doubt this moron will find himself on the receiving end of poetic amusement soon enough; so in the meantime, m5biemer, update us on the important part: Have you had any difficulty straightening out your end with the credit card company?
posted by cribcage at 9:17 PM on November 22, 2005

I received contact info yesterday from ebay, but under ebay rules am not supposed to disclose it on any open forum. I sort of feel between a rock and a hard place on this because I worked hard to establish my ebay feedback and would not want to be suspended, but at the same time feel that they are not going to be much help. Too many hoops to jump through gives too much protection to aaron or armen, whatever his hame is. I will tell you that his ebay account is not in his name, though, but in name of a female.

If anyone thinks I should flip the bird to ebay on this and disclose the phone number and contact person anyway, please let me know.
posted by m5biemer at 5:58 AM on November 23, 2005

If anyone thinks I should flip the bird to ebay on this and disclose the phone number and contact person anyway, please let me know.

Wouldn't the police be the best people to give that information to, m5biemer?
posted by sjvilla79 at 6:41 AM on November 23, 2005

If anyone thinks I should flip the bird to ebay on this and disclose the phone number and contact person anyway, please let me know.
I won't advise you one way or the other with regard to posting Airnxtz's contact information; that's something you have to decide for yourself. But as you've probably realized, you're not going to get any help from eBay -- so if it were me, yeah, I'd give them the finger.

At the top of this thread, when I gave Aaron the benefit of the doubt as a "victim," I told him he wouldn't get much help from anyone. Now that the tables are turned, I'm sorry to say that's still true. It's difficult to get lazy cops to involve themselves in online crime; it's outside their experience, and they simply have no conception of it. EBay won't act unless (1) they're scrutinized by media attention or (2) action is requested by a copyright or trademark holder.

When I first started using eBay, I visited their message boards occasionally. There used to be (and probably still are) bands of vigilantes patrolling for fraudulent auctions, and eBay was notorious for their refusal to suspend any seller based on any other user's suspicions. People would find incontrovertible proof (such as folks have uncovered with regard to Airnxtz), and eBay would ignore it.

This isn't eBay. This is MetaFilter. I would speculate that, if you were to post someone's contact information on this website, it's unlikely eBay would ever know about it; and if they did, I doubt they would take action against your eBay account without substantive proof that both accounts are owned by the same person.

Personally, I wouldn't worry. As I've said above, if it were me, I'd fill this thread with as much relevant and personal information about Airnxtz as I could find, to establish some record for posterity of the fact that he's a crook and a coward. But you've got to decide for yourself: What's your goal, here?
posted by cribcage at 7:57 AM on November 23, 2005

He lists his name as 'Aaron Madison' in his myspace profile, so maybe that's the name of his mother or a sister.

The phone number is for a Fast Cash store, so that's a fake.
posted by schustafa at 8:19 AM on November 23, 2005

Thanks to schustafa for that follow-up on the phone number. Should have figured it was a phony.

Found student named Armen Rezai Asl at Cal State U Bakersfield. He's apparently a Dean's List student in the Psych Dept.

Maybe someone familiar with CSUB or how to get info can do more with this.
posted by m5biemer at 9:05 AM on November 23, 2005

So is "Aaron" really "Armen" or are they two people in this together?
posted by Justinian at 2:41 PM on November 23, 2005

I don't follow where you got the "Armen" name from, but I'd guess "Aaron Madison" falls closer to the mark. His screenname "Airnxtz" is obviously a play on "Aaron"; and as for the name Christine, this loser sounds exactly like the type to register an eBay account using his mommy's credit card. (She probably doesn't know that he lifted it from her purse -- but he probably still lives at home, so she'll find out soon enough.)

The final clue would be that Armen Whomever seems to be a dean's list student. Does this "Airnxtz" moron really strike you as a dean's list candidate? ;-)
posted by cribcage at 2:46 PM on November 23, 2005

Armen Asl was the name on the paypal account that payment for airnxtz's ebay auctions were sent.
posted by Justinian at 3:39 PM on November 23, 2005

Has anyone heard of Charlie Wenzel?
posted by evariste at 5:20 PM on November 23, 2005

Well, I guess that Aaron or Armen or whatever is still following the thread here at MetaFilter. His latest email to me via ebay is that he has turned me over to the Bakersfield PD and Jacksonville, FL PD as I gave some personal info on this site, therefore I am guilty of harassment. I welcome the opportunity to be contacted by both PD's, Aaron or Armen or whatever your name is, and look forward to telling my side of the story.

Oh, here's an idea for you Aaron, Armen or whatever the hell your name is--you were going to make restitution to me on a monthly basis, why not just go out and buy me a replacement laptop and you can make the monthly restitution payments on your credit card, and I can have my laptop. Better yet, just use the money you stole from me to make payments!

Aaron or Armen, if you're still reading the posts, or to whomever else on this site is passing on the info to him, you can kiss my butt.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
posted by m5biemer at 6:39 AM on November 24, 2005

His latest email to me via ebay is that he has turned me over to the Bakersfield PD and Jacksonville, FL PD as I gave some personal info on this site, therefore I am guilty of harassment.

Hurr I committed fraud and now this guy is trying to find me plz take him to jail thanks officer.

Good luck, m5biemer; it's extremely unlikely he called the police, but I hope he did. I hope he burns for this.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:24 PM on November 24, 2005

First, this isn't harassment. Second, this guys expects you to believe that he contacted the police?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:25 PM on November 24, 2005

Like I stated earlier, I am happy to have the opportunity to talk to the police about this matter. I realize that there is very little chance he contacted the authorities, just blowing some smoke hoping that I will cease and desist.

Thanks to everyone for your feeback and comments.
posted by m5biemer at 6:33 AM on November 25, 2005

I wonder how this will turn out?
posted by dial-tone at 11:40 AM on November 26, 2005

Y'know, blag's suggestion may sound like harassment, but it may actually be worth a try. It's possible that airnxtz's mother is a slag who taught him to be a thief and a coward, but it's equally possible that she's a nice lady who has no idea that her spineless moron of a son is prancing around the internet soiling the Madison family name. Hell, maybe he's adopted.

The point is, Mommy might very well choose to dock Aaron's allowance and mail you a check. And no, there's absolutely nothing immoral or unethical about contacting family members about a debt and/or criminal act; it's done by collection agencies and bail bondsmen every day. Partly it's about shaming the scumfrog into paying what he owes, but it can also be perfectly appropriate for a rightful debt to be assumed by someone better suited to recover money from the worthless deadbeat.
posted by cribcage at 7:33 PM on November 26, 2005

As a matter of fact, it is illegal for a collection agency to speak to anyone other then an account holder about the debt (FCRA). Fortunately, the FCRA doesn't apply in this particular case, since we're dealing with two private parties. You could phone half of Bakersfield and let them know as a 'public service'. Nor would this be slander, as long as you only state the facts. Harrasment? I doubt it, but then, I'm no lawyer :)
posted by IronLizard at 7:00 PM on November 27, 2005

Russian trackback
crappy translation via

The Internet great force! Big тред in English, but it is read as a fascinating detective, I recommend.

In brief the essence is those - the user by name Airnxtz writes the letter on big collective блог Metafilter with the request to advise, that it(he) can make with the dishonest seller on ebay which has received $2500 for ноутбук, and has then declared, as ноутбук and money have been stolen from his(its) machine so it(he) cannot do(make) anything. There were languid answers, that, say, up to $10.000 of dollars the police will not do(make) anything, too small damage and in general, be weakened, try to return money through the bank and the credit company though it is not enough hope. And suddenly someone notices, that if to look through ebay on accessible parameters (model ноутбука, date of auction) the seller, similar, that is Airnxtz. Discussion is developed(unwrapped), what for it is necessary to it(him), comes out with the assumption, that Airnxtz wants блога to learn(find out) with the help, what consequences in case of swindle threaten personally to it(him). Again appears Airnxtz which pleads foggy phrases and still tries to learn(find out), that to it(him) (or to the seller if all this not it(he)) can threaten. Here users are connected still and the interesting picture starts to appear - ноутбуков "has been sold" at least three, buyers have received nothing, in comments (on ebay it is possible to leave the opinion on the seller) Airnxtz competently beat off from claims, like, it(he) has sent all, all this mail or, yes, has not sent, but all has compensated. There is one of the deceived buyers to whom the link on тред was sent by friends, костерит how much зря Airnxtz, there is the second, the same history. Airnxtz becomes silent, letters does not answer. At last, business is entered by heavy artillery on behalf of the owner блога which has terribly taken offence, that his(its) resource is used as means for training to a deceit (moreover with the help of present Reverse Engineering). With the help of dens and поисковиков there is an exact place of residing Airnxtz, his(its) photo, his(its) correspondence and so on. As all porridge was ready less weeks ago while answer neither from ebay, nor from administration of a campus (Airnxtz the student) is not present, but still, similar, ahead.

posted by Edible Energy at 7:27 PM on November 27, 2005

AskMetaFilter: At last, business is entered by heavy artillery.

Any more contact with the Bakersfield PD, Matt?
posted by Gator at 8:24 PM on November 27, 2005

Sheer poetry, Edible Energy.
posted by loquacious at 9:42 PM on November 28, 2005

That "Just kidding!!" is a little bizarre, given the circumstances, no?
posted by nobody at 9:49 AM on November 29, 2005

And how! I've been refreshing this thread at least three times a day. I want to believe that forces are working behind the scenes! I want to believe! I want to believe!!!
posted by cavalier at 6:05 AM on November 30, 2005

item -

That comment (odd as it is) has actually been there since near the start of this whole episode. I'm sure it's related to this particular scam, as I think it showed up just as this thread started to pick up speed, but it's been there for a while...
posted by Sinner at 9:58 AM on November 30, 2005

Any news?
posted by ajr at 7:55 AM on December 1, 2005

Paypal has concluded their investigation and, lo and behold, there's a problem with the seller, our dear friend airnxtz. He never responded to my paypal complaint (shouldn't we be surprised at this behavior?) My paypal account will be credited for the maximum $175 ebay refund (so much for buyer protecton, eh?). Now I will pursue through my credit card company and paypal will have to eat the balance.

Aaron continues to send some blustery replies to my emails where I demand return of my money or the receipt of a laptop computer, which in his world constitutes harassment. My intent is to file a report with the Bakersfield PD at some point in the very near future, but I have little faith that anything will ever come of it.

My complaints to ebay to have him delisted have not worked as of this point.
posted by m5biemer at 11:37 AM on December 1, 2005

What sucks is that when you charge back the money, PayPal and eBay will probably cancel your accounts. Talk about blaming the victim, huh?
posted by litlnemo at 2:04 PM on December 1, 2005

I looked today and this guy's eBay account is still active. What the hell is wrong with eBay?
posted by Emperor Yamamoto's Eggs at 12:48 PM on December 3, 2005

This guy's a real piece of work--now he claims that his posting which appears at the top of this thread was done to "see what might happen" from the buyer's point of view. He's claiming that he was basically pretending to be the buyer with the November 13 posting, our deal was closed on November 10, the laptop and cash stolen in between. He was trying to do damage control. I guess we all fell off the watermelon truck yesterday. It's unbelievable, ebay has not canceled him yet. Even paypal hasn't canceled him--he did not even reply to my complaint. All of a sudden the past day or so, he has re-emerged as some sort of shining white knight trying to do the right thing. However, when it comes to actual repayment of my cash, he's very quick to point out that my accusations that he's a scumbag do not warrant him giving a refund.

Oh, still no copy of the police report yet. I guess he's just having fun by continuing to poke at me.
posted by m5biemer at 4:52 PM on December 3, 2005

Why are you even waiting to file a police report? He's not going to come through with anything.
posted by MegoSteve at 5:31 PM on December 3, 2005

Sorry for your troubles m5biemer, but this is an incredibly entertaining thread. It's almost too entertaining. It's got a moronic lowlife conman right out of an Elmore Leonard novel, a gang of tenacious tech saavy crimefighters (the Justice league of Ask Mefi), a possible sockpuppet or two trying to keep the whole thing from turning into a lynch mob, badly translated Russian, police involvement, basically the whole kit and Kaboodle. No one (except Matt) seems above suspicion. All it really needs is a love interest (or is that sorta covered by the strippers Airnxzt links to on Myspace)?
posted by Skygazer at 10:43 AM on December 4, 2005 [3 favorites]

He's still selling stuff? What does it take for eBay to cancel an account?

(and m5, seriously: File. A. Police. Report. Matt's already done it so two reports should cause someone to sit up and notice.)
posted by blag at 6:38 PM on December 4, 2005

Would this qualify for being put on the sidebar or something to maintain interest? Or would that only happen if airnxt was hauled off to jail?
posted by Iamtherealme at 12:42 AM on December 6, 2005

airnxt going to jail would have to make the blue, right?
posted by SuperNova at 9:40 PM on December 6, 2005

airnxtz... I don't care if you are therealyou, you still messed up my spelling...
posted by SuperNova at 9:43 PM on December 6, 2005

Him going to jail might even be FPP material, if you link it in with other examples of "web justice" like that truck site mentioned earlier and Kaycee Nicole.
posted by Iamtherealme at 10:57 PM on December 6, 2005

m5biemer, please file the police report and then continue to hammer on the Bakersfield PD and the presiding Attorney General in that area and in yours.

This is not something that should be left to airnxt at this point. He clearly outlined his plans to defraud you in this question and then carried through with them.

I just want to see some progress made!
posted by disillusioned at 1:42 AM on December 7, 2005

Ok this is a bit of the actual topic of this thread but its related. I would be happy to post in a more appropriate place but i am new to the site and don't exactly know how. Any way i just won an ebay auction for the xfiles dvd collection at an amazing price. i figured it would be ok because i would just back charge the card in case the item turned out to be afraud. the problem is the guy only accepts money order or cc. I of course have no intention of paying him but i noticed that he was selling several other similar items. Oh just a note he is a new user with no feedback. I can take care of my self but i would like to warn the winners of his other auctions. I didn't think to keep them in my watch list or anything so i don't know who the winners are. After reading this post i realize that some of you are quite good at playing dective and i am wondering if you would help me prevent possible scams to these other folks. Thanks. here is a link to the acution and the guys handle on ebay is banks33510 oh and p.s. if the auctin is legit and i am screaming about nothing then i am very sorry and will gladly accept negetive feedback on ebay from this seller.
posted by artharjar at 12:49 PM on December 7, 2005

Yeah, pretty sure this isn't the right place for that. Though you could post that as a new question on Ask MetaFilter. You have to wait a week after you join, but there's a link at the top of the page to "Post a New Question". My e-mail's in my profile, and many other people are the same way, and would be glad to help if you have any problems posting.

I do wonder, though, why you would bid on an auction that states upfront it doesn't accept credit cards, even though you knew you might want to do a chargeback at some point.
posted by SuperNova at 1:57 PM on December 7, 2005

artharjar, what reason do you have to assume that the auction is a fraud? Most individuals are unable to accept credit card transactions, except through PayPal, and if you do accept a credit card transaction through PayPal, you have to upgrade to a different kind of account which charges transaction fees.

You bid on an auction that says "If you win this item please send money order or cashiers check." Now you don't want to pay. You're the one at fault. You have nothing to warn his other bidders about, because the bidder has done nothing wrong (or even unusual).
posted by designbot at 3:57 PM on December 7, 2005

Oh, and so long as you're bidding on dodgy DVD sets on eBay, you can do a lot better than $366.
posted by designbot at 4:28 PM on December 7, 2005

Listen all the critisims is real nice however it was my wife who bid on the item and she did not think to look at what kind of payment was accepted since she is not an ebay regular. additonaly would any of you ppl actualy send cash to this guy who has no rating and dosen't have the ability to acept paypay which would at the least give him some credability. I am not looking to get anything for myself i should have been more clear. I saw what i fealt was a fraud in progess and i am making an atemp to be a good neighbor and let others know what i think. they are of course free to complete thier transactions if they wish. I just thought that it would be nice of me to give them a heads up and i also thought that if one of them actualy got their item then perhaps i was wrong and could go ahead and send payment. You ppl just got togeather and came close to like hunting some guy down for something how can you get up on me for trying to help prevent another such situation.
posted by artharjar at 6:28 PM on December 7, 2005

Oh and just to restateif the guy wants to pursue the matter with me i would be happy to wait for him to get a paypal account and if it comes to it take a negative feedback. So how about being helpful instead of attacking me for trying.
posted by artharjar at 6:30 PM on December 7, 2005

And as for the dodgly dvd sets i am sure i could do better but keep in mind that x-files runs about 80 per season and there are 9 of them you do the math.
posted by artharjar at 6:31 PM on December 7, 2005

Look i feel bad about getting everybody upset over this. I actually came looking for friendly advise. All i really wanted to know is if anybody can think of a way to look up a sellers item history on ebay. If not then just say no. I didn't want to pick a fight about the definition of fraud or how to solve it. I am more then happy to deal with the results of my decisions. Sorry for getting testy. I would like to wish you all a happy holiday season and i hope we can chat again under more amiable terms. Thanks again. Oh and you might find it amusing that i have such bad spelling that in the third grade my teacher told me not to bother writing out the sentences in english class cause she couldn't read them. lol.
posted by artharjar at 8:39 PM on December 7, 2005

incidentally the user is no longer registered with ebay and never returned any of my contacts which leads me to belive it was a setup from the start.
posted by artharjar at 7:53 AM on December 8, 2005

Does anyone else find it unusual that Aaron has a long string of positives from users that are no longer registered?
posted by drezdn at 11:06 AM on December 9, 2005

I'm a little upset that this thread has sort of just piddled out in the past three days...

m5: Have you filed a police report with Bakersfield PD yet? You should definitely do that.

matt: any other news?

I just noticed that airnxtz is still online (via aim) so I guess he's not in custody yet.
posted by splatta at 12:39 PM on December 12, 2005

The thread will lock soon since it's almost 30 days old. You might have to move to MeTa to keep it going, or something. (If someone does this, please post a link here before this thread locks.) I would start a thread there myself if I had anything much to say about it at this point, but... :)
posted by litlnemo at 2:56 PM on December 12, 2005

Actually, AskMe threads have a one-year open commenting period, so no need to move to MeTa.
posted by donnagirl at 12:36 PM on December 13, 2005

Ah -- a relatively recent change I missed. Good.
posted by litlnemo at 4:33 PM on December 13, 2005

I heard this story on the radio this morning...somewhat relevant:

WORCESTER, Mass. -- A Hudson, Mass., man charged with running two eBay scams allegedly attempted to sell nonexistent Corvette sports cars while he was out on bail awaiting his federal trial.

Prosecutors said Michael Deppe, 21, is awaiting trial for allegedly selling nonexistent Super Bowl tickets, Rolex watches and other items on eBay.

Deppe is accused of running a Super Bowl ticket scam this past January that netted him $255,000, and with bilking $115,000 from people who thought they were buying Rolex watches and other items.

However earlier this month, U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge Charles Swartwood revoked Deppe's bail because of allegations that he enticed users of the auction Web site to buy nonexistent Corvettes. He also violated several other conditions of his release.
posted by nekton at 7:05 AM on December 14, 2005

as of dec 12 airnxtz has changed his ebay id to aaronmadisonguy.
posted by billoni at 12:27 PM on December 16, 2005

Today, he emailed me and stated that the Bakersfield Police Dept had contacted him regarding the fraudulent ebay auction. Seems that Matt's work has finally had some benefit. I got the run around the other day from someone there at BPD, Matt, maybe you can let me know who you spoke to.

I still haven't figured out the connection to Armen Asl, the holder of the paypal account.
posted by m5biemer at 2:28 PM on December 16, 2005

i found this on an ebay message board-posted by none other than aaronmadisonguy aka airnxtz
"ok i changed my user ID a few hours ago, however, when u search for my old user ID, my new one pops up, thus defeating the purpose of me changing my user ID,, can anybody help me ? "

you can run but you can't hide
posted by billoni at 9:28 PM on December 16, 2005

I was just looking at his feedback... that latest one from "jennnnsmirht", for a $500 Wal-Mart gift card, strikes me as odd. If you notice, "jennnnsmirht" has recently changed their ebay username. From "aaronwtw". On the day of the auction.

Seems pretty suspicious, to me.
posted by jcruden at 5:41 AM on December 17, 2005 [3 favorites]

actually, that auction with jennnsmirtht was for a laptop. looking closer the start and end times for the auction purchased buy it now
Start time: Dec-15-05 17:34:45 PST
Ended: Dec-15-05 17:35:15 PST

does an auction even show up in a search in that short of a time? to top that off, feedback was left for aaronmadisonguy aka airnxtz just a few seconds later.
Dec-15-05 17:35
talk about fast shipping!
this raises more than a few questions.
couldn't aaronmaxtz have offered this laptop to m5biemer (assuming that it even exists) as compensation?
is he trying to build up his credibility in selling "laptops"?

you would think with all of the heat, he would at least try to lay low for a month or two.
what an idiot.
posted by billoni at 8:52 AM on December 17, 2005

also, he does have another walmart gift card auction as well
posted by billoni at 8:53 AM on December 17, 2005

That's such blatant scamming it is ridiculous.
posted by Justinian at 9:31 AM on December 17, 2005

I was noticing last night that the last couple of feedbacks looked like fakes, but I hadn't looked that closely at the timing -- that jennnsmirtht one appears to be a pretty blatant shill.
posted by litlnemo at 10:30 PM on December 17, 2005 [1 favorite]

Ok my mind is blown. Search 'Walmart Gift'. Aaron is one of hundreds of people doing this. And they get bids!! No wonder EBay doesn't give a shit.
posted by cavalier at 8:20 AM on December 19, 2005

I love how this auction started at 17:18:03, ended at 17:18:33 and positive feedback was left in the same minute.

Tip to ebay scammers trying to build credibility: wait a reasonable amount of time before leaving positive feedback with one of your sockpuppet ebay accounts.
posted by splatta at 12:49 PM on December 19, 2005

scam boy aka aaronmadisonguy aka airnxtz is at it again with another "mystery auction"

Walmart Mystery Gift Card I have 5 listings. Make sure you leave your feedback to see who gets the 500 card! 1 of th 5 cards that I'm auctioning has 500 on it! This is a mystery auction, so the amount of the card is NOT known until the winning bidder redeems it at his/her local Walmart!

I don't know the amounts of each card because I have bought 5 cards.

So when you receive the card, the only guarantee is that there will be NO LESS than $5.00 but some will be higher. Up to a limit of $500.00! Hence, the MYSTERY auction. There is NO guarantee what amount you will be lucky enough to win.

You are bidding on the gift card itself just consider the amount on the card is my gift just for you!!! This card is guaranteed to have a value of anywhere from $5.00 to $500.00!!! No reserve on any of my mystery auctions. You could spend $5.00 & possibly get an $500.00 card or you could spend $50.00 & come out with a $5.00. Please only bid if you enjoy the mystery of the unknown!! It's all about the thrill of the bid! I can not/will not be held accountable if someone is unhappy with the amount of the card they received. It is all a luck of the draw

the only mystery is why anyone is stupid enough to bid on any of these auctions.
posted by billoni at 5:57 AM on December 20, 2005

Finally got a copy of the police report--he actually filed one. BTW, there's no such person as Aaron Madison, this is no more than a screen name for our friend Armen Rezai Aaron Asl. I was right a few weeks ago on the Armen Asl name, as that person held the paypal account. My search of CUSB noted that an Armen Asl was a dean's list student, so must be the same. I cannot imagine another Armen Asl in Bakersfield.

The police report is full of holes. No serial number for the computer, stolen between Nov 10 and Nov 14, report filed Nov 17--how the hell would it take you 4 days to find out a laptop and cash of approx $5500 were missing from your unlocked car and then another 3 to contact the cops? Oh, sorry Aaron, you were in such a hurry to tend to your emergency that you forgot to lock your car and a week later you report the incident?? This police report is nothing but a crock, and I am going to follow up with BPD next week and claim this to be a false report. I hope all the info here on this site will help shut this s-o-b down.

Final thought, Aaron, next time you make a copy, make sure that the page underneath doesn't show through on the first page--your attempt to block out some of the personal data on the report didn't work as I was able to see it when you copied the second page. You really need to work on this sleuth bit, son. Maybe you're not as clever as you think. In case you think I have revealed personal info from the police report, sorry, but I had your info long before then, and I haven't released your address or phone number yet, even though I think someone else here already found them.

Merry Christmas everyone, and stay tuned.
posted by m5biemer at 6:52 AM on December 23, 2005 [2 favorites]

m5biemer, i hope you filed your own police report for fraud, it doesn't seem that ebay is going to do anything to this guy.

seems as though he is slowly trying to cover his tracks.
first he changed his user name, and now his feedback is private, so no one can see your comments in his feedback profile.
i hope there is some justice served on this loser!
posted by billoni at 8:18 AM on December 27, 2005

someone just let me know that the user is still on ebay, and having trouble trying to hide his past.
posted by mathowie at 10:54 AM on December 27, 2005

Wow, I just checked in on this thread from the MeTa thread about Vonity. I had no idea.

I noticed he gave me the "best answer" nod. I feel so dirty.
posted by bshort at 12:27 AM on December 28, 2005 [2 favorites]

jesus fucking christ, this guy doesn't know when to quit, does he?
posted by mathowie at 3:05 PM on December 28, 2005

He's obviously having a good time with it at this point. I think he's getting off on the fact that he's still allowed on eBay, and still able to rub everyone's face in it.

At least the eBay community (or MeFi crossovers) are keeping his ridiculous questions at bay. It's like he has a disease or something...
posted by disillusioned at 1:17 AM on December 29, 2005

This kind of crap will never stop until people start suing Ebay for negligence in allowing admitted scammers (aaronmadison admitted he scammed in one of the threads) to continue selling.

Actually, the fact that he admitted scamming may be useful in any police reports you file.
posted by Justinian at 6:26 AM on December 29, 2005

the saga of the bogus giftcard scam continues.

newfunemail aka aaron writes in a paypal answer center:

i paid for a giftcard using paypal, seller shipped same day, i recieved an empty envelope with a small cut on the bottom, like someone knew what was inside. i contacted the seller explaining what happend, he said he is sorry but he is not responsible for USPS erros, as stated in his auction listing.. what am i to do??

this loser can't even get his login info right while using his sockpuppet account!
am i aaronmadisonguy or newfunemail?
i think someone needs some scamming lessons!
posted by billoni at 10:48 AM on December 29, 2005

airnxtz making more friends
posted by billoni at 2:06 AM on December 31, 2005

As of today, I noted that the aaronmadisonguy ebay name is "no longer a registered user". Not sure why, hope it's from our complaints that were filed.

Good riddance Armen or Aaron, whoever, whatever. Next stop hopefully the lockup at Bakersfield PD.

I am in process of pursuing action with Bakersfield PD and will update as soon as I have something new.
posted by m5biemer at 3:29 PM on January 6, 2006 [1 favorite]

I sent an email to Bill Cobb with a link to this page. Someone from eBay emailed me today and said that action had been taken, so I'm hoping that was it.
posted by MegoSteve at 4:26 PM on January 6, 2006

If airnxtz goes to the big house for this does this mean that all the answers about there being no recourse against scammers were very, very wrong?
posted by Justinian at 12:24 PM on January 7, 2006


Shades of Armen Tamzarian!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:01 PM on January 9, 2006

posted by grateful at 7:14 AM on January 10, 2006

Justinian, if it takes this much effort to get such a blatant scammer punished, that means there's something very, very wrong.
posted by agropyron at 9:23 AM on January 10, 2006 [1 favorite]

All i really wanted to know is if anybody can think of a way to look up a sellers item history on ebay.

Given the nature of the basic question here, combined with a sign-up date of December 7, 2005, and a similar tenuous grasp of English grammar, vocabulary and spelling to our original poster: who else smells a sockpuppet?
posted by mimi at 10:57 AM on January 10, 2006

I smell it, too.
posted by mds35 at 11:35 AM on January 10, 2006

God, I love you people. Back in the day, I used to contribute to takedowns like this over on the MMF HoH (which I've linked to before). I just noticed this thread as the admin over there apparently has noticed it as well. Fantastic. Keep up the good work.
posted by thanotopsis at 12:02 PM on January 10, 2006

mimi, I think you're onto something. Very similar grammar and syntax.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:18 PM on January 10, 2006

mathowie: Is artharjar posting from a Bakersfield IP addy as well? Or did he get wise and start posting from school?
posted by nevercalm at 2:45 PM on January 10, 2006

Metafilter: I hope we can chat again under more amiable terms.

I agree that artharjar was the same fraud artist and trying to cover up all his shit.

Sad that he probably used scam money to buy the new MeFi Account.

posted by Duncan at 11:42 PM on January 10, 2006

Well, note that artharjar is an active ebayer. You can find him via the link to the auction he provided above.
posted by Mid at 10:24 AM on January 11, 2006

It's interesting that the eBay accounts for newfunemail and Banks33510 were both created on Nov-18-05. Newfunemail's two purchases are Aaron's Walmart card and a wrestling DVD. Airnxtz's purchase history included lots of wrestling DVD's.
If I ever had to pick a team for a heist, this guy would not be coming along.
posted by horsewithnoname at 11:01 AM on January 11, 2006

artharjar is selling a TI Graphing Calculator right now. Is he building up a clean identity to scam again? Why sign up to MetaFilter just to post answers in an AskMe thread? So many questions....
posted by Floydd at 2:07 PM on January 11, 2006

And if artharjar is a net neophyte as he appears to be, then how did he find this thread three weeks after it was originally posted? Also suspicious that his ebay profile was dormant selling things from June to late December, when he went on a selling explosion. Coincidence that on the day he joined here (Dec 7) he started using the ebay profile again after it being dormant since June 10 (save for one Oct purchase)?

Shady shady!
posted by incessant at 1:38 AM on January 12, 2006

Floydd and incessant, I think you have things backwards. If you look at artharjar's eBay listings, his writing style seems very different from the "artharjar" who posted here. Also, remember that "airnxtz" has a history of posting from the point of view of the person he has scammed, in an effort to find out what recourse his victim might have.

I therefore hypothesize that the "artharjar" who has posted in this thread is actually NOT the "artharjar" who is the buyer involved in this ebay transaction. In fact, I hypothesize that airnxtz is the seller in that transaction (AKA "banks33510 ") and that airnxtz has posted in this thread pretending to be artharjar, in order to figure out whether the real-life artharjar will be able to track him down.

Does that make sense?

I have used eBay's "contact this user" function to contact the artharjar-who-is-on-ebay, alerting him to this thread, and asking him if he is the artharjar-who-has-posted-in-this-thread. I will report back if I here from him.
posted by yankeefog at 2:51 PM on January 14, 2006 [1 favorite]

I think yankeefog gets the gold star for this one, kids.

Look also at "artharjar"'s feedback profile and you'll see that he a) has 100% positive feedback and b) was selling from Redlands, California, 174 miles away from Bakersfield.
posted by disillusioned at 4:32 PM on January 14, 2006

I was contacted through ebay by yankeefrog who alerted me to my apparent continued involvement in this thread. I had originally come to this web site looking for some assistance with an ebay transaction which I had some suspicion about. I apologize for not starting my own thread, at the time i didn't know how, and causing this confusion. Do all the research you like and you will quickly see that I have nothing to do with the rest of this tread other then my few posts asking questions. I have a good, and growing, track record on ebay where i periodically both sell and buy. You will note that I have 59 feedback 100% of which are positive. additionally my account identity is "verified by ebay" which i think is more trouble then most scam artists would go to. I appreciate yankeefrogs alerting me to this matter and hope that your research quickly takes your investigation in another direction. Thanks and happy hunting!
posted by artharjar at 9:35 PM on January 14, 2006

Greetings, Metafilter-user-known-as-artharjar. I'm afraid your response here doesn't actually clear anything up.

See, the question isn't, "Is the-ebay-user-known-artharjar an honest person?" As you say, the-Ebay-user-known-artharjar has a 100% feedback rating over 59 transactions as both buyer and seller, and I have no doubt that he is an honest and reliable person.

What I'm trying to figure out, is this: is the-Metafilter-user-known-as-artharjar genuinely the same person as the-Ebay-user-known-as-artharjar? Or is the-Metafilter-user-known-as-artharjar actually an imposter who has stolen the name of an honest ebay user?

Fortunately, Metafilter-user-known-as-artharjar, if you actually are the-Ebay-user-known-as-artharjar, there is an easy way to prove it. Just respond to me via Ebay's message system, confirming that you are the guy who is posting on Metafilter. Or, alternatively, you can copy the e-mail that I sent you via Ebay, and post it here in this thread. Either way, you'll have established a link between the artharjar on ebay, and the artharjar on Metafilter, and we can clear up this whole misunderstanding.

Meanwhile, matthowie, you might want to check on whether the-Metafilter-user-known-as-artharjar is logging on from Redlands, CA (which would indicate he is the honest Ebay user known as artharjar) or from Bakersfield, CA (which would indicate he is the dishonest Ebay user known as airnxtz).
posted by yankeefog at 3:11 AM on January 15, 2006 [4 favorites]

jesus effing christ is this thread awesome.

Hats off to you yankeefrog (and about 10 other metafilter sleuths who've proven their mettle here). Here's hoping we've done some good here besides being massively entertaining.
posted by mowglisambo at 8:14 AM on January 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

Any updates forthcoming? I'd love to know what mysteries will be revealed:
Who is Meta-artharjar?
What will become of evil airnxtz?
Will m5biemer get justice after all?
And lastly...
"is an ebay fraud seller free?"

Edge of my seat, folks. Edge of my seat.
posted by disillusioned at 1:04 AM on January 23, 2006 [2 favorites]

Heh. yeah, I'd love an update too. Anyone?
posted by blag at 5:11 PM on January 23, 2006

If m5biemer's police report can confirm that airnxtz drives a '94 Civic Coup, it would be a pretty strong argument that artharjar is airnxtz.
posted by horsewithnoname at 7:46 PM on January 23, 2006

EVERY DAY I check this thread. Updates, anyone?
posted by mimi at 7:10 AM on January 26, 2006

looks like someone is about to get scammed again. i sent an email to the highest bidder, but can't believe that this guy is still on ebay and has apparently faced no repercussions. great thread, though.
posted by jjoye at 3:52 PM on January 27, 2006

All of his auctions have been cancelled: The seller ended the listing early and cancelled all bids.
posted by mds35 at 5:42 AM on January 28, 2006

Oops. I mis-typed. But you get the picture. The seller backed out.
posted by mds35 at 6:17 AM on January 28, 2006

I wonder if this might be the same guy
posted by drezdn at 4:17 PM on January 29, 2006

The operating patterns seem to be very similar......the person who got the $100 gift card left feedback 2 days before the seller "airmanburkhart" left his positive feedback. Just seems fishy in light of everything.
I'm dying for any kind of update too.......I'm really anxious to find out if arthajar responded through ebay, as all other answers take a bit more time it seems. Perhaps somebody should email yankeefrog.
On preview, I'll email yankeefrog
posted by Iamtherealme at 12:24 AM on January 30, 2006

No news on my end. I will let you know if there is.
posted by yankeefog at 5:27 AM on January 30, 2006

I think its quite, quite clear by now that eBay needs a serious change in policy. Even if drezdn's guy isn't airnxtc, its still fishy as hell and smacks of impropriety.

Something along the lines of "The seller muct make a good faith effort to accurately report the value of all items up for bid, where it can be demonstrated that the seller has easy access to such information. In the case that this is not possible, the seller must report for what amount they originally obtained the item. [legalese blah blah]. Auctions that in any way might be construed as gambling as defined in [citation] are not permissible. This includes the sale of lotto tickets, 'grab bag' auctions, and the like."

The fact that eBay lets this go on is a) atrocious, and b) probably bad for business, since a good proportion of these probably end in credit card disputes leaving PayPal holding the bag.
posted by ChasFile at 10:09 AM on January 30, 2006

If you look at airmanburkhart's feedback, it's set as private, this seems like a terrible policy by eBay, the feedback is the backbone of the ebay trust system. WTF eBay?
posted by splatta at 8:08 AM on January 31, 2006

drezdn: all of airnxtz's previous auctions under various user names listed bakersfield, ca as the items' location, which makes me think that this airman person is probably someone else. considering the item up for sale and the seller's feedback, though, this guy is probably just as sketchy.
posted by jjoye at 3:58 PM on January 31, 2006

I love this thread- stayed up late last night reading it in bed on my PDA. GO metas!
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 2:14 PM on February 1, 2006

Let's call this half time and go get refreshements? My ass is numb :)
posted by DrtyBlvd at 5:58 PM on February 20, 2006 [1 favorite]

looks like aaronmadisonguy is listing more items. gonna diet and be a father pilgrim?
posted by billoni at 9:07 PM on March 15, 2006

airnxt is back!
posted by billoni at 9:03 PM on March 23, 2006

Weird. Magazines and self-help books? Well, at least you're not bidding on a chance to get a copy of an old Life magazine OR a wadded up piece of toilet paper.
posted by Gator at 7:52 PM on March 24, 2006

He's gone again! You can't find his stuff anywhere on eBay. He must have re-registered...

The above links don't work any longer.
posted by ajpresto at 1:42 PM on April 23, 2006

Anything new happening with this?
posted by Falconetti at 9:20 PM on April 25, 2006

posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:58 AM on April 26, 2006

And he's back. Apparently "buy it now" is his new favorite. Too bad the feedback is private.

Are there any updates on this?
posted by Tuwa at 10:09 AM on May 26, 2006

Wow, an update today, when I happened to be catching up on this never-ending story.

Anyone who buys from sellers with private feedback should expect to get screwed. And what makes him think four year old copies of Flex are worth $20? Its a magazine dood.

It appears that he will likely get away with his original scam and has probably completed bunches of other scams. But, with some luck, this thread will, eventually, get used against him in a court of law and then, Haha! Muntz-style.
posted by fenriq at 1:57 PM on May 26, 2006

He switched ebay names, again, as of July 31, 2006. He now goes by "allforyoudeals21".
posted by yeti at 1:39 PM on August 9, 2006

read this post from top to bottom and even paid $5 to join ya all and seems like you are a good crowd and seems to be the kinda peeps id like to involved with :) anyway PAYPAL gave me some info about the ripper and goes back to November of 2001 so 5 yrs now...and that same name airnxtz 3 times now

Also note link below shows em as BOTH names as if one still shows old name, the other new one

Items for Sale by allforyoudeals21(private) *and* 87 items found Show only: Items from seller airnxtzShow

so 87 items by that ripper at the time of this post on ebay

The box below contains the User IDs
that this member has used on eBay.

User ID Effective Date End Date
allforyoudeals21 Jul-31-06 Present
airnxtz Mar-22-06 Jul-31-06
aaronmadisonguy Dec-12-05 Mar-22-06
airnxtz Dec-12-05 Dec-12-05
airnxtz Feb-21-05 Dec-12-05
airnupw Nov-09-01 Feb-21-05

its a shame that some people are so lame, im
canceling all ebay ties and never going back...
when you cant look at others (or presume) are
others responses and know its not bogus what
is the whole point of it...cant trust anyone there
posted by SlyDaCat at 11:49 AM on August 20, 2006

All of his auctions are "buy it now" sales, which means that the first bid knocks the auction off of his "items for sale" page, which means we can't contact the bidders and warn them about this sleazebag. Why does eBay let this guy keep on? Seriosuly, WTF eBay?
posted by mds35 at 8:26 PM on August 22, 2006

He's still there, still active.
posted by Tuwa at 2:41 PM on October 6, 2006

Now he's selling a high-ticket item, a Dell laptop. Wonder which sucker is going to get burnt next by this asshole.
posted by mds35 at 6:24 AM on November 2, 2006

Okay, some sucker is paying $2200.00 for the Dell he will never get. All of the auctions for the muscle magazines and other crap have suddenly disappeared. Wonder what that means. My guess is that he used those crap auctions to build some recent positive feedback in order to lure someone into thinking he was trustworthy. Anyone care to place a bet on just how long it is until the scammed fellow finds our Ask Me thread?

Note that this thread will close to new comments in just over a week.
posted by mds35 at 5:42 AM on November 3, 2006

Oh this is interesting: his feedback has been set to private, but yesterday while the laptop auction was still active, you could read the feedback. You had to click back a few pages to see the rip-offs, but there were there.
posted by mds35 at 5:44 AM on November 3, 2006

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