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wow... just minutes after I read the original post, and watched the Coyotes have a goal disallowed (wrongfully), I just came off CNN and watched Connie Chung interview this college student who was also jerked for his Mac. But they nabbed the crook... Kinda funny. here's the transcript off the CNN site:


ANNOUNCER: Next: a computer user ripped off by an Internet con man, how a high-tech posse brought the thief to justice -- when CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT returns. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHUNG: If you want to catch a crook on the Internet, you need a new breed of detective, a Sherlock home page, if you will. And you're about to meet him. His name is Jason Eric Smith.

When he sold a Macintosh PowerBook online and the check bounced, he reached out through the Internet and turned a bunch of strangers into his own Dr. Watsons to catch a thief. It's an amazing story.

And we have got Eric with us from New Orleans to tell us about it.

Good evening. Nice to have you with us.


CHUNG: Eric, you're a sophomore at the University of New Orleans. And, to make a little extra money, you were buying used computers and selling them on eBay. But then, in this particular instance, you were trying to sell your old computer. What happened?

SMITH: Well, I had bought the computer for myself kind of as an early Christmas present, so I could take notes and complete some projects at school.

It's a little bit expensive and much for me. And so I decided that I could sell the computer and buy something a little cheaper and do some things for the holidays with the extra money. So, I put the computer up on eBay. And the next day, I got an e-mail from a gentleman in Chicago who said he'd like to buy the computer as a birthday present for his son at Northwestern.

So, I gave him a call and we talked about the details. And the next day, I FedExed the computer off to him COD.

CHUNG: And so, did he write a check and send that to you?

SMITH: Well, what I actually got back was a cashier's check through FedEx, because it was sent COD. So, I got the cashier's check back, put it my bank and took some money out to pay my rent and do some other things for the holidays, and went off for Thanksgiving.

When I came back from Thanksgiving on Friday, I had a message on my machine from my bank, saying the check had been returned.

CHUNG: Uh-oh. So, did you think you were scammed? Right away, did you know?

SMITH: I didn't know. The bank manager actually told me that it was possible that that check had just been sent to the wrong bank or any number of issues, but that she wouldn't really know what was wrong until the following Monday.

CHUNG: And, on the following Monday, you realized? SMITH: Well, over the weekend, I had done a little investigating and I'd gone ahead and called the gentleman back. And the person who picked up the phone sounded just like him, but said it wasn't him. It was his cousin Tony and that the person I was wanting to talk to actually was out of town.

CHUNG: Oh, yes. Yes, right, right.

So, eventually, you did realize that you were scammed. So you went to the police. You went to the FBI. You went to the Secret Service. And they wouldn't help you.

SMITH: No, they wouldn't.

Chicago P.D. said they'd be able to get back to me in two weeks or so. And the FBI and the Secret Service both said it just wasn't enough money to be worried about.

CHUNG: All right, so, you went to loyal Macintosh users. Is that right?

SMITH: Yes. I put up kind of a plea for help on a couple of Macintosh Web sites: Macinin (ph), Mac Rumors, and O'Grady's PowerPage.

CHUNG: And you became the lead crime investigator, the CSI man, right?

SMITH: More or less, yes.

I got a lot of help and a lot of support from them. They gave me some good leads on other resources I could use to find out who this person actually was. And I actually finally did find their real address and their real phone number, gave them a call up at that. And they still just weren't interested in cooperating. So...

CHUNG: So, you set up a sting operation. This is amazing. I can't believe you did all this.

All right. And, meanwhile, were you still going to class?

SMITH: Yes, I was. I was having kind of a hard time getting there.

CHUNG: Yes. And you weren't doing your work, right?

So, all right, you go and set up a sting operation.


I used my girlfriend's eBay account to set up an identical auction almost for the same kind of computer. I just changed the location to Nashville, Tennessee and changed the name. And about three hours later almost, I got an identical e-mail, worded exactly the same. Just, the only difference this time was that you had a different name and a different phone number on it. CHUNG: So, you know you had your man.

SMITH: I knew I did. I e-mailed him back, said, hey, I'd love to send you this one. Just give me the address.

CHUNG: And he did?

SMITH: He did. He sent me back a new address this time. After I did some mapping and looked it up, it turned out that it was actually outside of Chicago. And I hoped that it was a different police force. So, I looked it up on Google. It ended up the dress was in Markham, Illinois, which is about 15 miles outside of Chicago.

CHUNG: So, did you get a cop to help you?

SMITH: I called the Markham Police Department. And, within about 90 seconds, I was talking to Sergeant Jim Knapp, who was more than happy to help in any way he could, once I told him my story.

CHUNG: All right, now, who dressed up in a FedEx costume?

SMITH: Sergeant Knapp did. He actually...


SMITH: FedEx loaned him a truck. And he had the uniform ready. And he actually made the delivery of the second computer to the guy dressed up as a FedEx delivery man.

CHUNG: And did he nab him?

SMITH: He nabbed him right then and there.

CHUNG: And what did he find in the house?

SMITH: He actually had about $10,000 in cashier's checks on him, waiting for other deliveries from other unsuspecting people the same day. He also had, I think, some fake identification and various other forged documents.

CHUNG: Now, you're a history teacher. This guy is history, right?


SMITH: Well, I hope so. I'm trying to make sure that he stays history.

CHUNG: So, you can't be a history teacher anymore, Eric. You have to become a detective.

SMITH: Oh, I'd much rather be a detective about history. That's much more interesting to me.

CHUNG: Oh, really?


CHUNG: Oh, Eric, I've got to make you change your mind. I mean, I think you found your home, your calling.

SMITH: Oh, I don't think so. I still -- I'd much rather -- I think I'd feel much more comfortable in a classroom.

CHUNG: All right. All right. And your parents probably agree with you.


CHUNG: And remind me never to get on your bad side.
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