Psssst….buddy.. You. Yeah, you…come here. Yeah, I’m talking to you. You look like a smart guy who knows a deal when he sees one. How would you like to buy a brand new BlackBerry 10 phone? Yeah, the new phone.. What do you mean they’re not out yet? Sure they are !! I’m selling them!! They’re out now and because I like you, I’m willing to give you a special offer on either a BlackBerry Blade or a BlackBerry TK Victory. What? What do you mean are they real? OF COURSE THEY’RE REAL !!! So, what do you say? We got a deal ??
Scammers. The internet is full of them and when you stumble upon one, the best thing is to back away slowly. A BBM contact of mine got in touch with me a while back and asked me if there were BlackBerry phones known as the Blade and the TK Victory, possibly the new BlackBerry 10 phones. When I told him that they were just concepts and drawings of what a possible BlackBerry 10 phone may look like and not real, my friend countered that a guy was selling them and they were real and showed me the pictures that he was sent.
The pictures he was sent were cropped from a well known BlackBerry website. I quickly showed him the real images taken from the original web site they came from. He was a bit let down because he thought they were real. But, this attempted fraud got my attention and I wanted to know more about who was selling them.
I asked my friend to put me into contact with the guy selling them, one Mr. Hassan from Malaysia. When I was put into contact with Mr. Hassan, I immediately had one thought in mind: Mess with Mr. Hassan. I decided to string Mr. Hassan along posing as a businessman who was looking to purchase new phones for their company and my friend was acting as the go-between.
I BBM’ed Mr. Hassan the last week in June of this year with my friend and mentioned that I was looking to purchase new phones for my company. We wanted to get top technology and were looking at 35 new phones. When I mentioned this, Mr. Hassan jumped and immediately wanted me to arrange payment. Mr. Hassan said that he could only sell me 20 at this time at $600 but I would get 10 with free shipping so the total would be $12,000.
I held Mr. Hassan off as the 4th
of July week was coming up and with a purchase so large, I would need the approvals of the accounting department and my “boss” for freeing up such a sum of money. And that because of the holiday week, my “boss” was off on vacation but would be back the week after and then we could start the transaction of the new BlackBerry Phones.
Mr. Hassan seemed overjoyed at this but didn’t seem to immediately grasp the concept of next week and sent me the Western Union contact information and wanted me to pay right now. I had to explain three times that I needed to wait for my “boss” to return from vacation.
The very next day, Mr. Hassan BBM’ed me and asked if I was ready to pay. Again, the greed was overwhelming his ability to comprehend what a week was. I reiterated that I needed to wait a week but I did find out that my “boss” would be back on July 5th
and we could get the ball rolling then. This seemed to mollify him for the time being.
One thing that I did notice was that on Mr. Hassan’s BBM profile was that he offered the BlackBerry Porsche with a special VIP PINs for sale as well. Selling non-existent phones is one thing. Selling existing phones that are knockoffs is another thing entirely. My plan to mess with Mr. Hassan changed to NAIL MR. HASSAN
I contacted a friend that works with RIM and asked them if they could either get me in touch with RIM’s security or at least pass the information about this guy onto RIM Security. I sent my friend all the conversations I had as well as the screen caps. I hoped that something would happen soon.
The next day, Mr. Hassan contacted me again and asked if I was ready to pay. I told him yet again that I needed to wait. This really pissed him off and he started to question whether I was a “serious and legitimate” buyer. I told him I was and if he didn’t believe me, he could Google my company and their address. I gave him the address to a place close to where I work and then I added two nuggets to keep him hooked and to keep him from getting suspicious. I told Mr. Hassan I wanted to buy a BlackBerry Porsche P’9981 for my personal use and that a friend of mine was the head of IT and was looking for new phones for his company as well. Mr. Hassan bit once again and this time, I got a website address for his company in Malaysia. He also sent me a little more information. I got that the shipping of the units to me would be extremely quick because they had an office in Louisiana.
Off went those bits of information to RIM security as well. Mr. Hassan’s website showed the cropped images of the concept drawings, pictures of the BlackBerry Porsche P’9981 and the iPhone 4S for sale. Tsk, tsk. Shame on you, Mr. Hassan.
I didn’t contact Mr. Hassan until the 5th
of July again as my “boss” had come back from vacation early and I had told him the details of the purchase. I mentioned to Mr. Hassan that my “boss” was happy and would get the money approved on the 6th
of July and that my “boss” also wanted to purchase a BlackBerry Porsche P’9981 for himself. Mr. Hassan again demanded that I send the $12,000 by Western Union immediately. I told him that the money would be approved on the 6th
and I would have the purchase order ready to go that day.
All the while I kept in touch with my RIM contact and was told to keep Mr. Hassan strung along as long as I could but I knew I had come to the end of my fun and quite frankly I was growing tired of coming up with cover stories and told my RIM contact I was going to end it on July 6th
So, when July 6th
rolled around, I wasn’t shocked when Mr. Hassan contacted me early in the morning and asked if I was finally ready to send the money and get our business transaction started.
I told him no I wasn’t. He got a bit angry with me and asked if I was a legitimate buyer. I finally told him, no I wasn’t and that I knew he was a fraud and a scammer and a piss poor scam artist at that.
At the end of our conversation, which ended abruptly (wonder why?), Mr. Hassan called me a m***** f***** and said he’d make my father pay the money that was owed him. I guess in the end Mr. Hassan thought I was a kid. I may be a tad bit immature but the gray hairs in my goatee tell me that I haven't been a kid for a long time.
As for Mr. Hassan, I know that his website was up for a few weeks after our sales transaction sadly went south. I did keep in touch with my friend from RIM and was assured that RIM Security was on it and I did get a big thank you from them. All I know now is that the site is gone and Mr. Hassan’s PIN is not working. All’s well that ends well, Shakespeare wrote, and I suppose that is the case. I can only hope that RIM Security worked with the Malaysian police to get this guy because nailing vultures like Mr. Hassan is a daunting task to say the least.
I don’t know if what I did made a ripple in the counterfeiting machine that exploits technology companies but if it puts one person or one hundred people in jail, then it’s a victory in my opinion. And I hope that no one actually fell for the scam that Mr. Hassan was running. A little fact checking and typing was all that was needed to stop this guy. Hopefully he won’t try and defraud people again.