As a service to all those who end up in a situation like the one I found myself in recently, I’ve taken it upon myself as part of my civic duty to report my near-brush with scammers. In the midst of running some errands, I had stopped to use the ATM at my local Citibank branch. As I walked through the parking lot I noticed some sort of transaction taking place around the back of a nearby pick-up truck which was jam packed with what appeared to be home theater paraphernalia. For a gadget geek like myself these are the kinds of things that happen to me in the dreams that I can talk about in front of my wife.
Rather than take a direct route I took a most circuitous path to my car that took me past the aforementioned pick-up truck. As I made my way past the truck I only then finally knew the feeling that a beautiful woman must have sitting at the bar of T.G.I.Fridays. I was now being hailed by the rather large man of Latino descent. “Hey, you wanna buy a home theater system? We’ve got too many for an order and we don’t want our boss to make any extra money…” I zoned out somewhere after home theater system with visions of football games and blu-ray movies exploding in my head (Do visions make noise?)
The flatbed of the truck was opened to reveal the Paramax P-7 stereo sound system. Everyone in Los Angeles is searching for all the amazing food trucks, but it was I who had stumbled on to the Best Buy on wheels! I was told how this unit retailed for $2,499, but I could have it for much less. He had a magazine that showed all the good reviews, “This is a top of the line system, I was told. I was informed that the last guy was going to buy it for $400 but he didn’t have enough cash in the ATM. “What a fool!” I thought to myself as I began thinking how much I myself could make if I sold this thing on eBay.
However, something still didn’t seem right. I asked my new found friend if I could use my iphone barcode reader to confirm what he was saying. I don’t think he quite understood what I wanted to do, but he let me proceed nonetheless. Hmmm, the barcode reader shows nothing. “Stupid free iphone app”, I thought to myself. How could my app not know a Paramax P-7 surround sound system for crying out loud! I asked if I could google the Paramax P-7 and he told me of course, he told me to check out the Paramax website to back up everything he said – and sure enough it did. But as I typed in Paramax P-7, why did Google give me an auto complete option of “Paramax P-7 SCAM”?
I quickly went to ebay to see what the Paramaz P-7 is selling for… and it was for about $100. Suddenly, I was no longer interested in a brand new surround system. I told the friendly salesman that I didn’t think I could afford the system today. In a flash, the price was cut in half, down to $200 and finally down to $150. “Yeah, I really can’t do that today because I have to talk to my wife first and we don’t even have a TV right now and my building doesn’t allow speakers” or something was what I continued to blabber. At this point the driver of the truck started cutting the price further from inside the truck, but I just kept thanking them both for their time as I tried to run to my car as mush as I could without making it look like I was running to my car.
I got away unscathed and unscammed for today, but from what I’ve found online there are a lot of other people who were not as lucky. It would seem the Paramax P-7 scam is happening in a lot and not just in Los Angeles. All the accounts I read online all sound eerily similar to my own – in the same way most alien abduction stories tend to go the same way (but in my case I was able to dodge some major league anal probing).
Upon getting home, I looked through the Paramax website. For an electronics website, amazingly, there is no way to buy anything on the site. Plus, there is no phone number on the site. There things aren’t just being sold on the backs of trucks, either. It seems like these things are starting to pop up on Ebay, craigslist and even Amazon.com
– so hopefully this warning helps prevent a few people from getting scammed.
The life lesson here can be applied to life as well as the game of Survivor. The more someone is trying to a deal that sounds too good to be true, it tends to be a real indication of exactly how worthless it truly is.