People Describe The Most Elaborate Scam They’ve Ever Fallen For

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If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Many victims of scams fail to detect if what someone is pitching is legit. These con artists have the capability of hypnotizing people by talking endlessly about the products they’re selling, or worse, threatening you with legal action if you don’t pay off charges you never knew you had.

During the pandemic, it seems internet scams have increased to prey on the elderly or even the most unsuspecting customer who isn’t even close to retirement age.

But don’t feel bad if you fell victim to an elaborate scam that made you the proud owner of the proverbial snake oil. You’re not alone.

Curious to hear from others whose gullibleness was taken advantage of, Redditor Pissgf asked:

“What’s the most elaborate scam you fell for?”

The Stolen Car

“I put a room up for rent once. Someone applied and said they would be moving in at the first of the month. They said they were military and switching bases.”

“This person said they were going to go ahead and ship their car out and fly in. The car arrived and was offloaded by truck. A few days later the car was gone. The person never arrived.”

“A month or so later the police knocked and asked about the car. Ended up being that the car was stolen by whoever this person was that shipped it and the person who picked it up was a buyer who thought it was legit.”

“Apparently he had a set of keys mailed to him and a fake title. Idk if it ever got sorted but they initially assumed that I was a part of it.” – BLACKMACH1NE

Free HBO

“At the start of college one year when everyone was moving into houses in the usual sh**ty but affordable part of a college town, a guy walked up to us and said he can get us free HBO, he’d just take $20, he knew a guy.”

“We’re like cool, he takes out his cell phone, walks a few steps away out of earshot, says check our TV, we go, and lo and behold, HBO! We give him $20 and he walks away.”

“A week later, it was gone. The dude just called HBO for some free trial week. He must have hit up every college kid moving in that day and made bank.” – StoolToad9

What’s Left On The Gift Card

“I had a visa gift card for $100 I got for my birthday, and wanted to check the balance after a few purchases online.”

“I look up ‘check visa gift card balance’ and clicked on the first thing I saw.” – throwaway74274380

An Elaborate Con

“This will probably get buried, but it’s one of the best scams (felonies?) I’ve ever heard.”

“Someone in my super small town got their grill stolen off their front porch one day. Obviously they were like, what in the hell? And they’re bummed.”

“A couple of days later, the grill shows back up on their front porch with an attached note that reads something along the lines of.”

“Our son has a problem with stealing things which do not belong to him. We found this on our property and got it out of him who he took it from and made sure he brought it back to you. Please don’t call the police to report this and enjoy 4 tickets to the Cleveland Indians game on us. So sorry for the inconvenience.”

“Needless to say, the people who lived there were relieved to have their grill back and went to the game that Saturday to enjoy the tickets some nice parents (presumably) had left for them to make up for their shitty son’s actions.”


“Our town was about 2 hours from Cleveland. Between the drive there and back and the baseball game, I’d say the family was gone for about 10+ hours that day. Guaranteed.”

“When they returned home, they’re house had been BURGLED. Everything. Electronics, cash, jewelry, ANYTHING you could think of as potentially valuable was gone.”

“Someone concocted a hell of an elaborate ruse they knew would get those people out of their house for a good half a day in order to rob the ever-loving sh*t out of them. All for the cost of a couple of Indians tickets.”

“It’s a funny story to tell, but no doubt was incredibly scary and invasive at the time to that poor family.” – kelseamoore

The Meetup

“Ohhh boy, I still cringe about that. Back in the late 90s, early 00s when chatrooms were popular, I met this guy there and we ended up chatting pretty much daily. He had an unusual name for the region, that should have been the first clue.”

“We chatted and sent letters to each other (by actual post)..tried to meet up with him so many times, but he always had something come up. One night on new year’s eve when we were supposed to meet finally, HIS COUSIN shows up and said yea he’ll come soon, he told me to wait here with you.”

“Pretended to call him several times to ask where he was, an hour or so later I just went back home and never talked to the guy again. Turned out the ‘cousin’ was the guy I was chatting with and he had made a deal with another guy to see how long I would believe all this.”

“I can’t believe I fell for it. Keep in mind I was 16 something back then.” – Finewhatever1

Getting An ESTA Visa

“I don’t know if its necessarily the most elaborate scam of all time, but there are a range of fake sites online that offer ESTA visa for entry into the US.”

“The funny thing about the sites is that they actually process your visa, but they just do it by sending your details to the official site and charging you a hundred dollars or so of idiot tax.”

“I got caught a few years back and I wasn’t even really mad. It was such an amazingly set-up grift, and what made it even better was that you really had no recourse because they were actually giving you what you paid for.” – dougieburrows

The “Color” TV

“In the late 50s or early 60s, some guy came into my grandpas shop selling color TVs out of the back of a truck. The family had never had a color tv, and the price was way less than what a store charged, so he bought one.”

“He excitedly brought it home, plugged it in and turned it on. Black and White. He played with the knobs and antenna, nothing. No color. The guy took a bunch of old black and white TVs, slapped a rainbow sticker on them, and sold them as color. Brilliant.” – Jealous-Network-8852

Owing Taxes

“A phone call just as I graduated high school I nearly fell for it. I was maybe 17-18 years old still looking for a job. The call goes as this:”

“HI, my name is John doe, and I am with the FBI. We have a warrant out for your arrest.”

“I’m terrified because it sounded real, so I kept listening.”

“It seems you owe $259.27 in taxes, you may call the IRS, or you may mail it to somewhere to sort the issue.”

“My heart was racing because I though I was wanted for tax evasion before my first job. I asked my dad what I should do and he told me to call the local sheriff’s department so I did. I was relieved to hear that I didn’t have a warrant and that it was a scam.” – somebigdog

I “bumped” into a guy with my umbrella once, when I was walking in Times Square in the show.

Apparently, I knocked him so hard, his glasses fell onto the SNOW-COVERED pavement and cracked.

He demanded I pay him $200 for a new pair and insisted we go to an ATM to settle the damage. I knew his specs were already cracked.

So when I played along and asked him for his name, address, and phone number so I could mail him a check, he yelled, “that will take too long!” and stormed off.

I guess he didn’t need the new glasses that badly. After all, there were other prospective victims to scope out in Times Square.

Written by Koh Mochizuki

Koh Mochizuki is a New York-based actor and writer. Originally hailing from Los Angeles, he received his B.A. in English literature and is fluent in Japanese. Disney parks are his passion, and endless cups of coffee are a necessity. Instagram: kohster Twitter: @kohster1