True stories with a twist!

Posts tagged ‘theft’


Downsizing; the dream of empty nesters. The constant conversation:  smaller house, easier to care for. Fewer places to store “stuff”, less land to maintain, smaller rooms to manage.

After two years of looking for a more practical home, we find just the right house. Now we face the enormity of eliminating objects we’ve lived with for thirty-one years.

“It’s easier to decide what you want than deciding what you don’t want,” was the advice we get from those who’ve been through this culling process before.

“There will be furniture we won’t need in a smaller house”, we say. “What should we do with it?”

“Offer it to our family first,” my husband suggests.

Our children have different tastes than ours, their homes are already furnished, and our free offers leave us with the same large pieces we started with.

“I’ll call some charities”, I suggest, and I call them.

I can’t believe how particular they are, how fussy they are, and how difficult they are. “They act as if they’re doing us a favor by looking at good and valuable furniture that cost us a fortune to buy”, I complain to anyone willing to listen.

They reject almost everything.

“I’m sure there are there dozens of families who would jump at the chance to own these things,” my husband says.

But I don’t know who they are, where they are, or how to find them.

What options are left?

“Ebay”, we brainstorm. “I’ll run an ad.”

And so the drama begins.

The first object I list is an oversize brown leather sofa. It is a beautiful sofa with soft, sensuous, seat inviting leather, which we bought in New York at a respected furniture store.

I receive several inquiries but no bids. I know that for the price we are asking, $2,000.00, someone could own a beautiful sofa at a very low price.

Suddenly one morning the bid we are waiting for pops up on the computer screen.

“If we agree to buy your sofa for $2,000.00, will you remove it from the listing?”

“Sure”, we agree, and cancel the Ebay ad.

“Thanks. I’ll send you the check right away.”

The check arrives along with some specific but puzzling instructions.

It is from an out of state bank, made out to us for $6,000.

“Please deposit this check in your account and make out a check to us for the difference. We will pick up the sofa next Tuesday.”

This is peculiar. I don’t understand his directions, so I go to my local bank and ask to speak to Don, the branch manager.

“Will you please explain how to follow these instructions?” I ask. “I don’t understand what to do.”

Don examines the note and the check and says grimly, “I won’t touch this check.”

“But why not?” I ask.

“Because this is a scam.”

Fireworks burst in my brain at his words. Scams are things we read about in newspapers.

“What do you mean, a scam?”

“It’s been around for years. We were warned about it when it was first being used against our banking customers.”

“How do you know it’s a scam?”

“Here’s how it works: you deposit his $6,000 check into your checking account. Then you keep $2,000 for the sofa and write him a check for the difference, which is $4,000. He cashes your $4,000 check before his check clears. His check bounces. So now the $4,000 the bank gave him in the check he cashed is lost. We can’t cover the $4,000, so the bank goes after you and demands the money. You paid him $4,000 and you owe us $4,000, so you are out $8,000!”

That is the scam, and it has been used successfully against people like us, who know nothing about such dishonest deals.

I rush home and send the scam artist an email, my only means of contacting him.

“My bank will not allow me to deposit your check,” I write.

“Then try another bank”, he immediately responds.

“No. The sale is off. Should I return your check?”

He wrote back an angry, nasty, unprintable response. And then he disappeared. His email address was voided. I never heard from him again.

But someone else surely will.


I am sorry to encroach into your privacy in this manner, I found your
names listed in the Trade Center Chambers of Commerce directory here in

I find it pleasurable to offer you my partnership in business, I only
pray at this time that your address is still valid. I want to solicit
your attention to receive money on my behalf. The purpose of my
contacting you is because my status would not permit me to do this
alone. When you reply this message, I will send you the full details and
more information about myself and the funds.


Why is our society infatuated with crime? Why are the majority of best selling books, popular movies and television shows about crime? Why are criminals often the people we root for? Why are the police often portrayed as unintelligent, while the criminals are clever and smart?

Whether it is murder, theft or kidnapping, American people seem to crave stories about it. The more details the better. The gorier the better. The harder to solve the better.

If I write a new book telling the story of our adventurous move out of our old house, would you want to read about it? I can tell a true tale that is crime related, that I experienced, and that was never solved.

This is how it started. My husband and I, “Empty Nesters,” decided to sell the house we lived in for 31 years and downsize.

That’s a nightmare in itself: emptying the contents of an old family home, with all the stories and memories of our family growing up.

After dividing the possessions we would bring and those we would sacrifice to a house sale, we interviewed moving companies.

The one we eventually chose was represented by a well dressed young man who owned “Man With A Van”. “Our moving crew is a group of men who are all legal, well trained, and have been employees of ours for at least ten years.”

That is impressive. These guys are professionals; they are reliable; they’ll treat our valuables with care, we thought.

A friend asked us, “Did you ever investigate his claims about the length of time the crew worked for him?” .

“No, we did not,” we answered with a tinge of guilt.

“Is your thinking that if you are an honest person you assume others are honest too?”.

Bad assumption. Trusting without verifying is dangerous to the bank account, now I realize.

“Did you mark and label every item going into each carton, and number those cartons,” my friend asked? “Did you have an inventory list of the house’s contents?”

“No. The last time we relocated, it was from our army post, and the United States Army moved us. We never made inventory lists, and everything worked out perfectly.”

Leaving our long time family home was traumatic enough, without labeling and accounting for every item we packed.

Once we were in the new house we didn’t realize it right away.

“It has to be here somewhere,” was our reaction when something we couldn’t find was missing.

But when it came time to hang the paintings we brought from the old house, suddenly the panic hit.

“The precious painting we bought in Paris is not here!” The beautiful still life with the glorious, vital colors. We couldn’t believe it was possible.

“How could moving men walk off with an original oil painting and hope to get away with it?”

It turned out that the Paris purchase was not the only painting missing.

“Have you seen the two charming decoupaged baby dresses from the Lambertville gallery? Where are the lithographs and woodcuts that were the first art we ever collected?”

This was no coincidence. This was no  mistake. This was outright, purposeful theft.

“Oh, no,” my husband shouted. “My collection of coins is missing too. Some of those coins were gold coins, worth a fortune now. I told the men not to touch that box. I told them I would carry it myself.”

We found out later, from the detective assigned to our case, that the moving company had lied to us from the first interview. “The group of men who were assigned to move your things had not worked for the company ten years. Ten days would probably be more accurate. Perhaps they were workers picked up in town, where men stand each morning looking for a day’s work. There’s no way to find these men now,” the detective said. “They move from one place to another without leaving forwarding addresses. And there’s no way to prove anything, ever if we caught them.”

Enjoy your crime novels, friends. I know that real crime is not entertaining. I can’t understand why anybody thinks it is.

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