If buying something on the street conjures up images of a man in a trench coat lined with stolen watches, you’re on the right track. Flea markets are one thing, but generally speaking, genuine deals are not found on the sidewalk.
You’re walking out of the grocery store and someone approaches you in the parking lot. Are you looking for a new video camera? He’s got one at a major discount right in his car. The box hasn’t even been opened. Interested? (Note to self: If someone’s selling something out of the trunk of his car, run away.) A digital camcorder for $75? Seems like a bargain. And he’s got an unboxed sample that looks pretty sweet. You hand over the cash. When you get home and open the box, it’s full of magazines – and not even good ones.
Big ticket items like electronic equipment are popular for the rocks in a box swindle. Things that usually retail for thousands of dollars are offered at prices that are hard to resist. Victims across the globe have been fleeced by offers of new laptops at deep discounts. In California, con men convinced their targets that the boxes couldn’t be opened for inspection because to do so would violate the warranty. Another victim got home to discover that the laptop bag contained not a top-end computer, but potatoes. If the purchasers do not have the cash on them, scammers will wait for them to return from the ATM or even accompany them to the bank.
If it occurs to you that someone selling laptops in a Home Depot parking lot most likely stole them, then it might not seem so strange that he wants to unload them for a low price. This is part of the rocks in a box scam – leading you to believe that you’re getting a good deal. Even if it were true and the bag contained a real laptop instead of potatoes, you’re still involving yourself in a criminal enterprise. Purchasing goods you believe or know to be stolen? Legally, that’s a no-no.