Fuelling the Modern Man

This guy tracked down his online scammer and messaged his mum

Oh damn son, you’re in big trouble now…

Ramsey Marwan
Published 13th September 2016

When Christian Haschek –  a cybersecurity researcher living in Austria – was scammed out of $500 (£375), he responded in just about the best way you could.

He contacted the scammer’s mum.

Ok, let’s rewind to the beginning.

Haschek was trying to sell $500 worth of iTunes giftcards that he couldn’t use as they were only valid in the U.S.


The gift cards in question

He took to Reddit to try and flog the cards and figured a Bitcoin transaction would prevent the scammer (whose identity has been withheld, for reasons which will become clear) from retracting the cash post-transaction.

Haschek, who had been trying to sell the cards for four years after winning them in a competition, was led to believe the buyer was genuine, particularly after he was contacted by the buyer on ebay, proving that he had good buyer/seller feedback and wasn’t trying to hide his identity.


A screen-grab of the perpetrator’s ebay account

Haschek also understood the reservations the customer had, as buyers of gift cards don’t know if they are still valid once they have transferred the money. Haschek admitted “I could have used the cards straight afterwards”.

The sneaky scammer convinced Haschek to send him the cards and their codes before transferring the currency and used the codes as soon as he received them.

The con artist then deleted his Reddit and ebay accounts and seemingly disappeared. The money never appeared in Haschek’s bank account.

Haschek then got into the following exchange with the scammer:

Haschek: Hello! It’s geek_at from reddit. I see you have deleted your reddit account. Is the deal still on? Have you ordered the products yet?

Scammer: Excuse me, but who are you? I don’t use this account except when I occasionally buy items.

my ebay was hacked recently along with my email because I was keylogged. The hacked then proceeded to access my bank paypal and ebay. So no. I won’t send you money for someone else hacking you but I do feel sorry for you.

Haschek: nice try -firstname-, you have 4 days until I press charges

Scammer: Please do. I will take you to court for defamation and false accusation. I am a college graduate with a law degree and you are just trying to use baseless threat and accusation. When clearly I have not contacted you and have no idea what you are talking about. You randomly message me about deals and products when this is ebay and you have listed nothing that I have bought or bid on. If you try to keep contacting me and continue to pester me further with threats I will contact my local police office as you have looked up my information and have been baselessly accusing me.

What came next was four days of solid internet detective work. Using his pre-existing knowledge of cybersecurity and a bit of common sense, Haschek was able to track down the careless swindler on Facebook.

A quick look at through his page and Haschek discovered the scammer’s family members on the social networking site and decided to message the scammer’s brother and mum.


10 minutes after the scammer’s brother read the message, Haschek suddenly received a message from the perpetrator:

Scammer: This is [the scammer] from before. I am sorry for what I did. I am young and stupid and always in a really bad place. I ama full time student and I have no job. I contacted Apple and got a giftcard back. I can. Give you your giftcard back I have a card for $477 and one of the existing card you gave me should have the remaining balance. Please leave me alone after this I won’t do anything like this anymore I am having panic of attacks just thinking about this.

I do not have the bitcoins if I did I would have sent it to you already. I have literally 0 money and as a full time college student I have no savings please I beg you to understand I have had a handful of anxiety attacks in the past few days over this issue and I am extremely scared. All I want is to leave me alone I know what I did was wrong please I beg you to forgive me

I will never do anything like this again. I have 6 classes and I am a full time student I can’t even go to work to pay you back. I would immediately pay I back if I could but I am broke and living on cheap fast-food. Please I beg you to forgive me and accept the card I returned I am very sorry I did this to you.

Admitting that he was a poor student, the trickster apologised and begged for forgiveness. Luckily, he chose a pretty forgiving victim.

Haschek let the foolish young lad to sell the cards on his behalf and transfer him the money and agreed not to tell the police.


Good-guy Haschek

Haschek isn’t one to gloat and has mixed feelings when it comes to calling out the scammer:

“On the one hand, this is someone who stole $500 from me and deleted all the accounts that I used to get back to him, he never answered my messages,” he told the BBC.

“I found out he had tried to scam loads of people and always with gift cards.”

After receiving what he thought was a heartfelt apology and not wanting to kick him when he’s down, Haschek said:

“He is also just a kid who took a wrong turn”.

We just hope the kid learned his lesson.

You can read Christian Haschek’s full version of the story at his blog.

Read More: Loads of people are falling for this widespread ATM scam – don’t be one of them!

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