Friendster Andy

UPDATE: I have learned that this was an actual college essay written by someone named Hugh Gallagher in 1998. Hugh is now a writer.

A friend of mine sent me a link to a freaky picture of a sad man’s face photoshopped onto a sad looking dog which gives new meaning to the phrase “puppy dog eyes.” This profile was posted on Friendster so I logged in and clicked on another profile of a guy named “Andy” and was in tears when I read the over-the-top description of himself in the “About Me” section – it’s worth posting in its entirety:

I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling walls and crushing ice with my bare hands. I have been known to remodel train stations on my lunch breaks, making them more efficient in the area of heat retention. I translate ethnic slurs for Cuban refugees, I write award winning operas, I manage time efficiently. Occasionally, I tread water for 3 days in a row. I woo women with my sensuous and god-like saxophone playing, I can pilot bicycles up severe inclines at unflagging speed, I cook 30 minute brownies in 20 minutes. I am an expert in stucco, a veteran of love, and an outlaw in Peru. Using only a hoe and a large glass of water, I once single- handedly defended a small village in the Amazon Basin from a horde of ferocious army ants. I play bluegrass cello, I was scouted by the Mets, I am the subject of numerous documentaries. I enjoy urban hang gliding. On Wednesday afternoons I repair electrical appliances free of charge. I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst and a ruthless bookie. Critics worldwide swoon over my original line of corduroy evening wear. I don’t perspire. I am a private citizen, yet I receive fan mail. I have been caller number 9 and have won the weekend passes. Last summer I toured New Jersey with a traveling centrifugal-force demonstration. I bat 400. My deft floral arrangements have earned me fame in international botany circles. Children trust me. I can hurl tennis rackets at small moving objects with deadly accuracy. I once read Paradise Lost, Moby Dick, and David Copperfield in one day and still had time to refurbish an entire dining room that evening. I know the exact location of every item at the supermarket. I have performed several covert operations with the CIA. I sleep once a week; when I do sleep, I sleep in a chair. While on vacation in Canada, I successfully negotiated with a group of terrorists who had seized a small bakery. The laws of physics do not apply to me. I balance, I weave, I dodge, I frolic and all my bills are paid. On the weekends, to let off steam, I participate in full-contact origami. Years ago, I discovered the meaning of life but I forgot to write it down. I have made extraordinary four course meals using only a mouli and a toaster oven. I breed prize-winning clams. I have won bullfights in San Juan, cliff-diving competitions in Sri Lanka, and spelling bees at the Kremlin. I have played Hamlet; I have performed open-heart surgery, and have spoken to Elvis. But I have not yet been to Australia.

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I normally feel sorry when the web swarms around something they want to make fun of but in this case it’s fully justified. If you’ve read about scammers who prey on eBay innocents, you’ll get a kick out of this meme.

A scammer tries to get someone to send him a $2000 PowerBook to the UK with a promise that funds put into a phony escrow account would be released upon delivery. Smelling something phishy, especially when a check on the registered domain of the escrow site doesn’t look legit, the seller goes along. These type of scams usually end up with the seller sending off a legitimate item only to never hear from the buyer again.

The scammer is usually overseas so there is no legal recourse. This happened to my neighbor where someone in South Africa saw his posting for his Volvo, offered to buy it and even sent a cashier’s check for the amount plus $3000 extra for shipping. Because it’s an overseas bank, it takes several days to clear so in the meantime, the scammer’s asking my neighbor to send the car off for delivery and also to wire the “shipper” $3000 real dollars. My neighbor had never heard of the bank which drew up the cashier’s check and grew suspicious. When he asked for further proof, they trail went cold. Of course the cashier’s check finally bounced.

In this case, the guy scams the scammer and writes the whole thing up complete with excerpts from his email conversations. He says the goods are enroute, stuffs a plastic three-ring binder with a bunch of keys from a busted up Windows keyboard pasted on the inside, marks the customs form as a $2000 notebook and sends it off.

But what really makes this a gem is the whole time this is going on, he is posting comments on a newsgroup asking for advice and basically getting egged on by the community. By marking the package as a $2000 computer, this forces the scammer to have to pay something like $200 in customs fees. Posters in London see the thread and check out the delivery address (a barbershop/internet cafe) and even go in for a haircut to stake the joint. The members of the bulliten board track the Fedex tracking number and someone even visits the shop at the time of delivery to try and get a snapshot of the fuming owner as he realizes he’s been had. The didn’t get the shot but they did go into the internet cafe and left “p-p-p-powerbook” on the screensavers.