This week, Reddit user Bogsk asked fellow members: "Have you ever been scammed? What happened?" No one is immune to the ruses of mastermind thieves — and you might be able to protect yourself if you come across a similar situation — so here are some of the wild stories users shared:
1. This person thought her sibling was getting arrested.
"I was on vacation so I kept my phone off. My sister was house-sitting for me when scammers called my home and told her I was going to be arrested or served for an undisclosed criminal charge if I didn't pay $900 for the case to be dismissed. She had tried calling me, but I hadn't answered because my phone wasn't on. However, I had left her one of my bank cards so she could buy food, so she paid them thinking the situation was real."
2. This person was just trying to sell a car.
"I was selling a car on Craigslist and got a call from this guy who seemed super interested. He sent me a link to what appeared to be an alternative to Carfax and asked me to get a history report for $30. I was literally putting in my credit card info when I realized that the website might be fake. Turns out it had only been registered with ICANN that day and was totally fake."
3. This customer thought he was getting a great price for a TV.
"I work at Best Buy, and one day a customer came in and demanded to speak with a manager named Tammy regarding a TV he had ordered. We didn't have a manager named Tammy, nor did we have any order information in our system for this customer. Turns out, the customer had responded to a Craigslist ad for an unbelievable price on a TV. The seller claimed to be a manager at our store and instructed him to purchase gift cards for the asking price and send photos of the backs of the cards. The customer did all this and was told the TV would be ready for pickup at our store. Needless to say, there was no TV for him."
4. This person was fooled by a seemingly innocent tweet.
"When I was 11, my favorite Disney Channel star tweeted a link to an IQ test so we could see how our scores compared to hers. A credit card number was needed to see the results, so I put in my parents’s card info. Of course, she had been hacked and it was a scam, and my parents were not happy that their card had been charged."
5. This person was thiiiis close to coughing up cash for an "investment."
"I almost got scammed when a friend of mine from college emailed me and mentioned that his firm was handling an angel investor round for a certain technology startup. I had invested through his employer before with no issue, so I asked him to send me information so I could do some research. It seemed legit, but the payment information he sent me seemed fishy since it was directed to an address in a city I know his firm isn't located in. I called the building and they said there was no firm by that name registered to the building. I went to my friend's house to explain everything and he had no idea what I was talking about. His laptop, phone, and wallet had been stolen. Apparently, the scammer went through his contacts, figured out what he did for a living, and tried to scam his professional contacts."
6. This person thought her grandson was truly in danger.
"My grandma once got a call from a male who simply said, 'Grandma?' after she answered the phone. She assumed it was my cousin Taylor and responded, 'Taylor?' 'Taylor' told her he was in Mexico and in trouble and needed $10,000 right away or someone was going to hurt him. He told her that if she got the cash, someone would be by that afternoon to pick it up. Luckily, the bank teller asked her why she pulled out so much money and suggested she call one of her kids. The police were called, and they waited at her home for the money collector. If they ever came by, they didn't make themselves known."
7. This person almost fell for a phony audition.
"I almost got scammed when I saw an ad for extras for a popular TV series. I applied, and they told me I was perfect. I gave them my contact information and set up a date for an audition. Days before my audition, I decided to research the studio that was holding the auditions and found reviews that claimed people had been ripped off. People had auditioned and were told they were 'perfect for the part,' and that the director would be coming to town soon to see them. So, people paid money weekly to rehearse in the studio with the crew, only to find out that the director couldn't make it to town. And because they had signed a contract before their rehearsals, they couldn't get any of their money back."
8. These friends thought they scored a good deal on high-quality speakers.
"When I was in high school, my friend and I were walking into the mall when two older guys approached us and asked if we liked speakers because they worked at a warehouse and an extra set had accidentally been delivered. They showed us a promotional flyer, which said that the speakers were worth $3,500. My friend negotiated with them, but I had a funny feeling about it. We all went to the bank and my buddy handed over $500. We got the speakers and as soon as we unboxed them, we realized they were low-quality imitations."
9. This person bought a gift card that SOMEHOW turned out to be empty.
"This happened to me before smartphones were around. It was the day after Christmas and I had gone to Circuit City but was disappointed by the prices. A guy standing outside the store asked me if I wanted to buy a $100 gift card from him. He had a receipt after having used the card to buy one CD that was on sale. The receipt said that there was over $80 left on the card. He even let me call the number on the card to check the balance. Everything seemed legit so I gave him $40 for the gift card. I went back into the store to use the card and there was no money on it. I'm still baffled by how he scammed me."
10. This person was promised free gifts...in exchange for their card info.
"A company called and offered me some free gifts if I completed a survey. So I did the survey and gave them my address for the gifts. Then, they said I'd have to sign up for a magazine subscription using my debit card info, but I wouldn't be charged right away, and I could cancel the subscription after receiving the first magazine. I was young and naive so I did it. Then they asked for my social and I panicked and hung up, but they had already charged $80 to my debit card. I got an overdraft on my account and had a hard time convincing the bank I had been scammed. They took pity on me and reversed everything. I never got those free gifts."
11. This person thought they were helping to fund a child's education.
"I once placed an order with some kids for a magazine subscription to 'help them pay for college.' I never received the magazines. A few years later, a kid came to my door with the same story and I told him I didn't want to place an order because I was scammed before. He swore that he wasn't like that and he was just an honest kid trying to pay for school, so I ordered another magazine subscription I didn't want. I never got it."
12. This person was duped into transferring her trust fund money.
"My coworker had a trust fund, and one day, she got a call from someone who worked at her bank and said that he noticed she had so many bank accounts. He wanted to consolidate them for her and give her a higher interest rate. When she agreed, he set up a new bank account for her and had her transfer all the money into the new account. You can guess what happened after that...
When we all found out she had lost over ₩160,000,000 (maybe around $150,000), we were shocked. She had even called her bank and asked about him before transferring the money. He really did work there, but he used this scam on a bunch of people with accounts at the bank, and then just left the country with all their cash. She ended up getting some of it back, but not nearly all of it."
13. This person was almost out $900 in a phone-selling scam.
"Back when eBay and cellphones were both relatively new technologies, my then-girlfriend found a great deal on an auction for a new flip phone with a camera. The auction said to email the seller directly and he would give a lower rate to avoid the eBay fees. She contacted him and wired him around $300 or $400 for this new phone. He went quiet for a short time and she started to suspect she had been scammed. Finally, he responded with a fake tracking number and said, 'I accidentally mailed three phones to you. Please wire me another $600.' At that point, she knew she had been scammed."
14. This family thought a kind French local was just doing them a favor.
"When I was 14, my family and I visited Paris from Indonesia. As soon as we got to the airport, we made our way to a bus stop to get to our Airbnb, which was on the other side of the city. We tried buying tickets at the machine, but it didn’t seem to work. A young guy approached us and said he could use his student card to get the tickets for us — we just needed to pay him about 200 euros for four seven-day tickets. He got us the tickets, and we went on our way. The next day, we tried to use the tickets again, but they didn’t work. Turns out, those tickets were only good for one trip."
15. And this person's fake concert ticket story actually had a happy ending.
"Recently, I bought resale tickets for a sold-out House of Blues show. We bought the tickets off a girl via the Cash app, and she emailed me the 'electronic tickets,' which looked legit. The day of the concert, my roommate and I got to the venue, but the tickets wouldn’t scan. We walked away, defeated. We were in the parking lot when I noticed a guy who had an all-access pass. I explained our situation and he said there was nothing he could do, but he seemed like a cool guy nonetheless, and we had nowhere to be so we just chatted him up. Eventually, he said, 'You know what, stay right here I’ll see what I can do.' He came back out a few minutes later with two all-access passes for us."
Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.