I got scamned
February 16, 2021 7:32 PM   Subscribe

I got scammed by workmen yesterday and I feel so stupid. I’m too embarrassed to even say what happened. Textbook case. I lost €3500, just about all my savings. Not a case of greed, just absolute stupidity. I will report it tomorrow (I’ve got their van registration no.), but won’t be able to get my money back. Please help me to feel less angry at myself about this?

I did need work done on my roof (back of house) but they approached me and told me it was minor, then ramped it up quickly and then made me believe that I had promised to pay cash. I tried to argue this but they wouldn’t budge. I was stupid enough not to get the company details correctly and they didn’t give me a receipt, though I asked for one. They said they’d be back tomorrow but I don’t really expect to see them. If they do come back I’m afraid to confront them as I’m a woman living on my own.

I’m going to go to the police tomorrow - despite feeling like an idiot for falling for this. I don’t want them to scam anyone else.

But my anxiety is through the roof and I can’t believe I fell for this. I’m reconciled to having lost my money, but any help to heal my feelings of utter ineptitude please?
posted by Samarium to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You're not an idiot and this sucks. I'm sorry.

Can you call them and say you might like to set up an appt with an attorney, or you're considering small claims? Even if it isn't exactly the case- you can let it go, but you should do something for yourself and the situation.

It is within their responsibility and accountability to issue a receipt.

Do they have any local bureaus or even a public profile somewhere, they need to be accountable for? Even threatening a bad review is enough to get a full or partial refund, sometimes.

You could possibly call or confront someone accountable for any licensing they may need to operate their business.
posted by firstdaffodils at 7:36 PM on February 16 [4 favorites]

I got scammed in a way that cost me far more. You could view this as a cheap education preventing greater loss in the future.
posted by slidell at 7:49 PM on February 16 [4 favorites]

Oh that's awful. They are likely quite practiced, they bullied you, and you didn't really stand a chance. It's absolutely rotten.
posted by theora55 at 7:51 PM on February 16 [15 favorites]

Listen, without giving away too much identifying detail, let me say that I have dealt professionally with dozens of scams and read about many more. Anybody is scammable (including me). You only have to be a little unlucky in dealing with people who have often been practicing deceit for years and years.

Seriously. Anybody. Is. Scammable.

(Next time, don't talk to people who come to your house unsolicited to make sales of any kind. There are no good outcomes.)
posted by praemunire at 8:00 PM on February 16 [41 favorites]

You poor thing. You are NOT an idiot. You got harassed and intimidated into this. This is not your fault.

Please do follow through with the cops - you are not the first one to fall victim to this scam, it's almost certain local police know exactly who this is. Maybe your story will help get them busted.

I am so, so sorry. Sincerely, someone who lost $$ to a 3-card-monte scammer in NYC in 1988
posted by tristeza at 8:06 PM on February 16 [15 favorites]

Yes, this not you being weak or foolish, this is a bunch of assholes who are evil enough to do bad things most people would never do. There is nothing wrong with you, it's something wrong with them. The only thing you were was unlucky. As someone already said, anyone is scamable. You, however, are planning to do something about it, despite how uncomfortable it makes you, in order to help others. This makes you a very brave, strong person in my book. Kind of a badass, really.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 8:27 PM on February 16 [11 favorites]

Do not, do not, do NOT be angry at yourself. These people ... listen, I like computer metaphors, so let me put it this way. These people are very adept programmers. They know all the tricks of human communication. They know the patter, they know when to press, they know how to do A and B and what to look for in you for C. It's something they practice and learn -- they make movies about noble versions of these kind of characters (the Ocean's movies) who run cons in other circumstances. Don't feel like an idiot. You're not.

I've fallen victim to con jobs, too. I once came out of a situation that was the worst day of my life thus far - a day I was really not sure whether I was going to be safe to be alone with myself that night. And a con man ran a con on me right there.

There are unfortunately predators in our world. You ran into some. But the fact that you were predated upon does not make you any less than you are.
posted by metabaroque at 8:40 PM on February 16 [5 favorites]

Nobody believes they'll fall for a scam until they fall for a scam.

These people are professionals. They specialise in short-circuiting your common sense using a range of persuasion and escalation techniques that leverage your strengths - empathy, giving the benefit of the doubt, wanting to do the right thing, complying with just authority, reciprocating when you feel obligated - and using them against you, like some sort of sick psychological aikido.

People literally write books about it. They wouldn't if the issue was "some people are just dumb". You aren't. This is no different to them breaking into your house and stealing the money from your bag.
posted by some little punk in a rocket at 9:31 PM on February 16 [14 favorites]

There are also umpteen guides/tutorials online (usually ye olde deep webs) for people to learn these practices and execute them 🤷 Sometimes they combine themselves into people who are really, *really into witchcraft or organized crime for a double hitter or an edge of psychological warfare 🙄 It's usually just psychology in the end. They tend to look very silly and very transparent to people who are actually working. People who tend to write these tutorials are sometimes not actually versed in the actual subjects (psyche, persuasion, etc.) Bad actors become noticeable.

Always nicer to be a noble hustler, than a malicious one.
posted by firstdaffodils at 9:47 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Not to threadsit, just a quick update:

I've been to the police this morning, and I've let my neighbours know what happened. It's difficult to let them know how easily fooled I was. If these guys come back (hah!), I will not let them in.

praemunire I think you're spot on there. I should have known better, having been aware of this type of scam, and having always had the rule of thumb not to make decisions on my doorstep.

Thanks for the replies. I think it will take me a while to stop feeling foolish. And broke.
posted by Samarium at 2:15 AM on February 17 [7 favorites]

I feel like it's hard to go through life without getting scammed at least once or twice. Whether it's the less-notable renting or buying a home with a million defects the landlord or seller knew about, or buying an item that turns out to be a dud, or the more notable types of scam like the one you mentioned. I'm pretty careful and paranoid and I once got scammed by a "real estate office" that somehow convinced me to buy a list of properties for rent that turned out to just be a printout of online listings from a well-known free site. I walked out of that office kicking myself and chanting "a fool and his money are soon parted" and feeling especially galled at the agent's faux chumminess. (As it happened, that particular case actually turned out well because one of those listings was one I hadn't actually noticed online and it turned out to be great. But it was still eye-opening to realize that I'd fallen so easily for such a totally obvious scam.)
Anyway, it happens. I forget the name of the internet security specialist who still fell for a phishing attempt, but it really happens to pretty much everyone. Welcome to this club, and hopefully the educational part of this experience will have an innoculating effect against future scam attempts. Either way... You're okay. This is also part of life. And it's an important thing to know about ourselves.
posted by trig at 2:16 AM on February 17 [5 favorites]

Anyone who believes they are not scammable are the perfect victims because they won't be looking for signs of scam.
posted by kschang at 4:26 AM on February 17 [7 favorites]

Much respect to you for telling your neighbours. Your experience may save them from falling for the same scam.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 8:03 PM on February 17 [6 favorites]

Happens to everyone. Time will help the feelings. The R.A.I.N. Technique is good for letting it flow through you in my experience.

Good reminder to us all to never open the door or talk to anyone unless we had a reason to. You hopefully saved your neighbors from a similar experience, and I think that took a lot of strength, wisdom and courage to do that.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 11:19 AM on February 18 [3 favorites]

At least you didn’t lose the money by sending it to a Nigerian prince!
posted by pmaxwell at 4:00 AM on February 19

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