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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Presenting Patrick Stevens, Craig's List Scammer

We are selling a dining room set on Craig's List. A few people have contacted us, seemingly interested, only to disappear after stating they want the table and chairs. Given we only have two weeks to sell this dining room set, due to a move, we jump at anyone who contacts us.

Enter Patrick Stevens. Mr. Stevens contacted my husband about a week ago, stating he wanted to buy the dining room set. The emails from Mr. Stevens to my husband, and later, myself, are included in this article unedited. Here is the first one:
Sorry your email did not get to me until now, I would have come andtake a look but am on a business trip now so i wouldn't be able tocome but am okay with the price,i would be very glad to inform youthat,i will have my employer Secretary to mail a certified check frommy salary to cover the cost of the item and also offer you extra $50or more to keep the item for me. Also you should be aware that youwon't be responsible for shipping as i will have my movers come overand pick it up as soon as the check clears Please Provide with theName and address to be on the check then Your Cell Number to have thepayment mail to you asap.
The email address on this message is patrickstevens507@gmaildotcom. This is not the original email address, however. The first email address was patrickstevensaz@gmaildotcom. Once Patrick thought he had hooked his fish, he changed email addresses. First giveaway. 

My husband responded:
Alright. I can hold until the 30th-31st.
Patrick seems happy:
Hello,      I just got your information today and i want you to remove the item fromsales list because the check will be mailed out tomorrow and i willget back to you with the tracking # immediately, so that you will knowwhen to expect it. Then, i am going to include the mover's funds thatwill come down for pick up along with your payment. So once youreceive the check deduct your item fee and the rest funds goes to themover, so they would be able to come down for the pick up. Let me readfrom you if i should mail the check out . Thank You.
Notice, there is no mention of any monetary amount. We are asking $250 for the dining set, which, FYI, is a fantastic price. So we figured Patrick was sending us an official check or money order for $250, plus whatever fee was involved. I had no idea any of this was happening. My husband tells Patrick he will let Patrick know when the check arrives, and then remove the listing (he never removed the listing). Patrick thanks my husband, and writes he will email hubby with the tracking number, presumably for the registered letter containing the official check or money order.

It is at this point Patrick's scheme comes to light, with the following email:
Here is the tracking number(1Z X1V 296 01 4252 0891)for thepayment,you are to go ahead and deposit the check into your account assoon as you get it,You will be having a check of $1950 in there,thecheck will clear in your account within 24 hrs,Deduct your fee for theitem plus the extra $50 for your time and sincerity for holding it.Youwill have to send the remaining fund to the mover via money gram moneytransfer.Their money is that much because they are moving so manyother item for me from other locations. Note that the Money Gramtransfer charges will be deducted from the remaining funds going tothe movers and you can find Money Gram outlet at any Walmart Store ormall close to you to send the remainder to the movers using thedetails below.
RECEIVER NAME: Mary PantohanAddress: 208 Baseline RdCITY:......... LafayetteSTATE:........ COZIPCODE....... 80026
 After sending the movers money, get back to me with the info from theMoney Gram Office i.e Reference Number: Sender's name andaddress,exact amount sent after deduction of transfer charges: I willalso forward the info to the movers and we can find a convenient timefor you in which they will come for the pick up. I will be lookingforward to read from you,  Let me know if EVERYTHING is clear to youas i explained and instructed, Thanks.
Got it? We deposit the "official check," keep $300, take the rest out, and send it via Money Gram to Mary Pantohan in Lafayette, Colorado. Danger, Will Robinson. This is the first email I read, and I lost my everloving shit. I'm a former bank teller, and teller manager. Every alarm in my head was screaming "FRAUD!"

The check had arrived at our house, while we were at our new townhouse, painting, putting in wood floors, and cleaning 20+ years of grime off the ceilings, walls, and hanging lamps. Our son was home, though, so I gave him a call.

"Have we received anything like a registered letter, or something official looking?"


"Go get it, please."

He got it, opened the envelope, and said, "It's a check."

"Okay," I replied, "what's on it?"

He read the bank name, the company name, and the amount to me. I gave him instructions, thanked him, and hung up. And called him right back.

"I need you to take a few photos of the check and send those to me. Take a photo of the routing number, the account number, the name of the bank, and the name of the company. Include any addressed or phone numbers, okay?"

"Ugh, fine, hang on."

Within minutes, five photos appeared on my phone. The two I was most interested in were the bank and the company who allegedly authorized the check. The bank name was Santanda Bank, in New York. No such bank exists. The company was MidAm International, which also does not exist. The closest I could get was MidAmerica Productions, also in New York. I called them, and spoke to a very nice man named Joseph, who told me I was the eighth person to contact him about a fraudulent check. To recap: nonexistent bank, nonexistent company, which meant the "official check" was most likely printed in some asshole's basement.

It was now time to scam the scammer. Until the end of our exchange, Patrick Stevens was interacting with me, not my husband. My first email was an attempt to verify my husband had given Patrick our address, which, sadly, he had. Lesson learned, we're not ever doing that again without a DNA sample. Patrick's response to my query was:
 were you drunk when you saying all these ?? Please the check has been
delivered to the address you gave me so go ahead and do what we both
agreed or else you will regret ever met me , i gave you just 24hrs to
do what you need to do. Thanks
delivered to the address you gave me so go ahead and do what we bothagreed or else you will regret ever met me , i gave you just 24hrs todo what you need to do. Thanks
We will regret we ever met him. Sounds vaguely like a threat, doesn't it? Well, Patrick was just getting started, which was fine with me. I begin by asking Patrick for an address where we can mail his check:
We were expecting a check for the amount of the table and chairs, plus $50 for our inconvenience. We will put your check in the mail no later than Monday, January 18, 2016. Please forward the address to which you would like the check mailed.
 Patrick's response:
No that is not true, i told you i was going to include the movers feealong with your item fee
Hello,      I just got your information today and i want you to remove the item fromsales list because the check will be mailed out tomorrow and i willget back to you with the tracking # immediately, so that you will knowwhen to expect it. Then, i am going to include the mover's funds thatwill come down for pick up along with your payment. So once youreceive the check deduct your item fee and the rest funds goes to themover, so they would be able to come down for the pick up. Let me readfrom you if i should mail the check out . Thank You.
And this was your response
I will contact you when the check arrives. The listing will be removed.Thanks
so what the hell are you talking about? If you think you can play onme i will make sure you wrought in jail, I know you don't know me thatwas why you are acting up in these ways but i want to let you knowthat i work in sheriff's department so i have everything working on myfavor as everything is documented from the beginning of this sale. Solike i said i gave you 24hrs to do the needful or else i will get youdown , if you think you are smart i will tell you i am than you do.
Now he works for the sheriff's department. 

I had already Googled the address in Colorado, and discovered it is a multi-family residence. That woman, Mary Pantohan, does not exist, just like the bank and the company. Shocking, right? I continue:
Please send us the address you would like the official check returned to. We will be more than happy to send it back to you no later than Monday, January 18, 2016.
It's only fair to admit I was having a blast doing this. I'd already contacted our local police, so now, I was just scamming the scammer. Patrick's getting a wee bit perturbed now:
There is no way i will give you my address to send the check backbecause i cant void the check at the moment as the bank refusesvoiding of check at the moment so you need to make sure you have itdeposited and get me the money back in cash as the only way to accessthe money on the check because the check is written in your name andnot mine.We had an agreement before i asked the check to be drawn because i wastold by my the bank that they don't void check at the moment and yougave me go ahead with the check.
Technically, he's right. Since the check was fake, he couldn't void it. I keep going:
Then we will send the check to the address you gave us in Lafayette, Colorado, 208 Baseline Road.
Poke, poke poke. Now he's pissed:
 Do you realize that was not my address but the movers address ?I hopeyou are not trying to put yourself into trouble
Typing while giggling:
That address is a multi-family home, not a business. So, we'll send the check there on Monday.
 OK then, we shall see what happen , am sure you will regret theaction, i have informed them already and i was told a note will be putthere to reject any mail coming at the moment so you can continue towaste your time, When the 24hrs i gave is completed i will be in frontyou to show you how mad i am Good day please don't send me any emailagain except if you send me my money i had a tracker using on you andyour email so i know how to deal with people like you
Scary. He's going to be in front of us to show us how mad he is. Oooo. He knows how to "deal with" people like us. Well, I know how to deal with people like Patrick, so I introduce myself and try to help:
Mr. Stevens,
Good morning. I am Jim's wife, and a former teller manager. I understand you are concerned about the official check you sent us. The link below will give you information on how to void/cancel an official check. Although, given the name of the bank is misspelled on the official check you sent, I'm not sure how you should proceed once we return it.
Patrick's response is nothing short of epic:
I did not advise you to tell me how i can void check when the check isnot from you so Learn how to approach people you don't know and whatyou knows nothing about from the start, If you know you are learnedyou are suppose to ask on what the whole issue started on and not beensounding like you are a competent person or someone that knows all soask your so call husband what we agreed on and why he's trying to playgames on me when the check delivered, i wish you will not be in badmood by the time i bounce on him in less than 24hrs as i promised him.So please stay off because i did not know you and i did not haveanything to do with you because you were not part of the sales frombeginning. So dont put mouth into what you don't know. Thanks
He wishes I will not be in bad mood when he "bounce" on my husband in less than 24 hours. Is that a porn thing? I contacted our police department again, speaking with the same officer. He told me a police car would patrol our neighborhood until we returned, only because it's not our house, we're renting, and if some yahoo decided to "bounce," we might be held responsible for the damage. I asked the officer if I could shut Patrick Stevens down, and he said "Oh, I think it's time." And so, my final email to Patrick:
Mr. Stevens,
We have contacted local law enforcement, and they have alerted us to the fact that you are running a scam. Our house is under police watch, as well as neighborhood watch. This entire email thread is also being forwarded to the authorities, and we will be turning over the fraudulent official check to law enforcement.
Amazingly, we haven't heard squat from him since. And yes, the check is fake. He forgot to remove the VersaCheck logo, there's no watermark, and two obviously photocopied signatures on the bottom. MidAmerica Productions does not require two signatures on their official checks. The check, along with all the other information I was able to gather, will be turned over to the police tomorrow.

Patrick Stevens is obviously not this guy's name, but it's very likely he will use this scam again. If this happens to you, follow our lead. Verify the bank, verify the company. Dig, research, call people. And when you discover this is a scam, contact local law enforcement. If enough people fight back, perhaps the Patrick Stevens of the world will stop trying to scam innocent people out of their money.  
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