Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Farrah's Car Sale Scam on "Teen Mom"

My girlfriend is a big fan of the show "Teen Mom."  Because of that, I'll sit in front of the TV with her while I write, and she keeps me updated on the lives of these 18 year old parents.  It is an occasionally interesting show, to see how these kids cope with parenthood.  When the show amplifies the drama, my attention wanes and I only periodically glance at the TV.  The latest episode caught my attention.

Last week, my girlfriend told me that Farrah, one of the moms, was scammed while selling her car.  I'd heard of many scams against people who are buying a car, but never selling.  I sat down and watched the show.  I came in as Farrah listed her car on Craigslist. My girlfriend is a notorious channel-changer, so I'm not sure what I missed, but the next thing I knew, Farrah was on the phone with her bank and her account was -$2600.  As soon as I heard that, I knew what had happened.  I speak with people on the phone who've encountered similar scams.  And sometimes, I have to tell them that they've lost their savings.

I'm sure it went down something like this.  Farrah listed her car for $5000, seemingly unaware that her car was not worth it, and she quickly got an offer.  I assume the offer was from outside the country, probably Canada.  They seem to have told her that $5000 was no problem and they would send her a check for the car and the shipping costs to send it to Canada. They probably said that the taxes and getting the car through customs was expensive and the fees could only be paid by the seller.  The scammer likely told Farrah to send the money to a "handler" of some sort. Whether the handler claimed to be an IRS agent or customs agent doesn't matter; it was actually the scam artist or an accomplice.  This is a variant of more common wire transfer scams.

Around the internet, people have been a little too hard on Farrah for her mistake.  Scammers find people that have some trust in others and then manipulate it.  Scam artists are convincing and charming, believable and adaptive.  The good ones can role with most situations and maintain their trustworthy facade.  Anyone and everyone can be persuaded, especially an isolated and emotionally distraught teenager.  In a recent US Weekly interview, Farrah said that she felt stupid for what she did.  And while it is now recognizable as a bad decision, it's more difficult to see at the time. It happens to many others.

I ran across a commenter or two on different websites discussing the scam and they were shocked to find out this happened to people who were not senior citizens.  Some people believe that to be ripped off, one must have mental problems such as senility.  This is NOT the case.  Most victims of scams have full mental capacity. The reason that the elderly are targeted more often is because they are isolated.  They have sometimes outlived all their friends or spouses that used to give them advice.  They might be in financial straits because they live only on a meager social security check.  Financial burdens lead people to make desperate decisions.

To con artists, Farrah is an appealing victim, though she didn't know it when they stole her money.  She lost her child's father in a car accident.  She was forced to rid herself of her parents, who were abusive and at times incapable of rational thought.  She found herself living on her own for the first time, without her parents' guidance, without a partner to advise her, in financial desperation and perpetually distracted by the needs of her daughter.  Single mothers are as desirable targets as the elderly, but they're more assailable.  Single mothers use email, Craigslist, Careerbuilder, cell phones and other technologies, giving scammers more opportunities to contact them.  Farrah is the type of person I most often have to tell that they lost their money.  It's horrible, but it happens.  It doesn't mean that the victim should feel ashamed.

If you or anyone you know gets caught in a similar scam, you should immediately contact the Federal Trade Commission (1-877-FTC-HELP) and the police department of whatever state or province the money was wired to.  If the money was wired to Canada, contact Phonebusters (1-888-495-8501) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Fraud Division (613-993-6884).  It is difficult to track these scam artists down, but the quicker you act, the better your chances.

15 comments:

  1. I'm glad you broke it down. I watched the show and didn't understand what really happened till I read your blog. Thanks for putting it so simply. :) It's very unfortunate what happened to Farrah.

    ReplyDelete
  2. She was a total idiot, and her attitude needs to change... towards just about EVERYTHING.

    I have watched her since 16 and Pregnant, and she is so dumb it disgusts me. I don't care what anyone says... she's a mentally deficient spoiled prissy brat.

    She needed a $3K kick in the ass... she got what she deserved. To say that's it's because she's young and vulnerable... WHATEVER. So was I once...

    It's because she's SPOILED, STUPID, AND CARELESS.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for explaining this. I'm glad to see your article came up first in the search. It is so important that people learn about these money transfer scams.

    More importantly, that people come forward despite their embarrassment so others can learn how common these scams really are.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Please have sympathy for Farrah. She is having a difficult time trying to raise Sophia as a single mother trying to cope with being young & trying to pay bills on her own without any support or guidance from her family or her deceased boyfriends family. I think she is really brave for doing this on her own. It makes me upset to see the other couple on Teen Mom give up thier child for adoption because if Farrah can do it alone, then the couple has an advantage....they are a team & could've supported thier daughter but they chose to be selfish & not do it. I myself am a single mother also & sometimes I can be very naive & gullible. Ture, I fell for one of those criaglist scams & lost $2k. I still owe the bank to this day but GOD sees those the prey upon the weak & he will handle that. I don't seek revenge cause if I do, I'd be digging 2 graves...including one for myself. I pray for Farrah & that she will receive justice for the scammer. I also hope that she reported them to the Federal Trade Commission! Then again, I think maybe one the the cameramen or staff on the show should've warned her about these type of scams. How was she supposeed to know? I also hope that Farrah & Sophia get all the help & strength in order to have a happy life & may GOD cap his angels around them to protect them, guide them, & help them.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Giving up a child for adoption is hardly "selfish." Although I have no personal experience in the matter, I would venture to say that in circumstances in which the child will be much better off with his/her adoptive parents, it is actually a selfless and emotionally traumatic decision for the parents.

    Now, Farrah is woefully unaware of the world if she didn't check out her buyer before wiring the money.

    ReplyDelete
  6. @ kupkake junkie, get some compassion. Have you seen the environment the teens who gave their baby up for adoption lived in. They chose a stable environment, something they did not have. Maybe you should watch the MTV program called "If You Really Knew Me" to clue you in on how hard it is to come from a dysfunctional background.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Excellent post. Although it is an all-too common scam, it continues to work as too many are unaware of it. So many things are instant now, it makes sense that depositing a check would mean the transaction is complete.

    Hopefully your post will clue more potential victims into the scam.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Report any internet scams or fraud to the FBI web site ic3.gov and the internet web site sponser (ie: paypal, craig'sist etc)

    ReplyDelete
  11. People are being too harsh on the girl, she basically has no friends with who to consult for, for advice, so she had to use her best judgement. Who the hell would think of such a scam of someone sending you too much money, then giving you a fake check, then asking you to forward 3 grand to an agent and it is all an elaborate scheme. Even as an armchair observer, the fraud was not immediately clear to me, nor probably most viewers, so to someone in need of the money, there is no chance it'd be clear, and I research various types of frauds.

    I wouldn't be to worrying of Farrah she makes like 50-60k per season she, isn't living in the poor house either

    ReplyDelete
  12. It was a sad experience to read another story about the car scam. I think that the people and government of certain country should do something soon to gain access to the fraudsters.
    national auto transport quotes , auto transport quotes , free auto transport quotes

    ReplyDelete
  13. It was very helpful for me as I am going to buy my first vehicle. buy bmw houston

    ReplyDelete
  14. I would feel sorry for this girl but she is a spoiled brat that thinks it's all about her. I don't know why anybody would want to be around her when all she does is talk bad about people. I won't even start on the way she talks.

    ReplyDelete