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Lunatic customer threatening me

I refunded a card he threw out

     
11:56 pm on May 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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A customer bought 3 widgets. When I went to send the order out, it looked like he had put his last name in the Company slot, which is right below the name slot. It said "Joe" for the name and then "Example U." below that. I thought the "U." was a typo, because no one would have something sent to a university using only their last name, and besides it was clearly a residential address. So I sent it to "Joe Example." I do get people who put their last name in the Company slot about 5% of the time, and sometimes they throw in some extra letters too. So it wasn't weird.

He emailed me yesterday about where were his widgets. I looked at the tracking number and it showed that they had left a notice and that someone at that address had told them no one by that name lived there and it was being returned. He told me that "Example U." was actually the name of the university where he worked and that he had not put his last name on the order form because he was trying to be friendly. I thought this was weird, but I told him I would send the package out again when it was returned.

Then I got looking at the order again and noticed that his phone number was munged. So I looked up the university. It is not located at that address.

I have had a few problems in the past with individuals buying or trying to buy poisonous widgets (which these are) to do harm to themselves or others with them instead of using them for their intended purpose. These folks have ordered multiples of the widgets in question, as he did. So I became suspicious that he had deliberately not used his last name, lied about his address being the location of a university, and munged his phone number. I decided to just refund him instead. I told him that last part, not the part about being suspicious.

Then he said he had made the purchase with a gift card and had thrown it out since. He made the purchase about 10 days ago. This made me even more suspicious. Either he had done everything he possibly could to cover his tracks, or he was just an idjit. I said I couldn't reverse the refund, which is true.

Since then he has been sending me many very long threatening emails about how he wants those widgets and about how he is going to sue me for interstate fraud and such if I don't send them to him. He is also, of course, saying he will blacken my name all over teh Internets.

My question is can he actually take me to court? He is saying he will do it just to make me spend the money to come to his state.

12:06 am on May 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

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That sounds a lot like a job for the FBI and Homeland Security.
12:18 am on May 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I actually had a customer a few months ago who was arrested for trying repeatedly to poison her ex. She used stuff other than what she wanted to buy from me because I wouldn't sell to her on account of getting suspicious of her. I found out about what she did because I got a subpoena for all communications I'd had with her. In the past I had no idea people would do such things and had a customer who used some of my widgets to end his life. I found out about this from the police.

So I pay attention to these hunches. It's either that or quit selling these widgets, and I'm not going to do that.

12:57 am on May 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Remember Wacko?
1:57 am on May 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

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So this seems like a joke to you guys. I'm sorry I posted it. I should have known.
2:00 am on May 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I don't think these guys are joking. Somebody who is doing weird things in relation to poisonous widgets needs to be watched carefully.
2:51 am on May 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I'm dead serious. It does sound like something the FBI or other law enforcement agency may be interested in. Isn't it better to call them before someone gets hurt rather than go about your life and wait for them to call you after someone is killed?
11:53 am on May 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Here is a link to report any crime or suspected crime on the internet:

[ic3.gov...]

I would report this ASAP. Just by filling out fraudulent information and using a credit card online is a federal offense.

1:21 pm on May 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

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someone at that address had told them no one by that name lived there and it was being returned.

I'm foggy on what happened to the original package. Did you contact the shipper for more info?

he said he had made the purchase with a gift card and had thrown it out since.

What kind of gift card would this be? Couldn't you buy him a new gift card for the same amount, or just write him a check if you're worried about a suit? How much money is involved?

he had not put his last name on the order form because he was trying to be friendly.

Eh? Did he ever supply you with his real last name?

BTW, a suit against you would probably have to be filed in a court in your state, not his.

1:32 pm on May 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

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The delivery service has a couple of notations. One is that they left a notice, and then three days later, that it was being returned because no one by that name lived there. So somebody at that address told the carrier that or put it on the notice.

He says it was a gift card that he has thrown out. When I look at the AVS, it has a match. It says it was issued by Visa. I thought gift cards didn't have an AVS match by definition.

1:45 pm on May 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I am with the guys who say law enforcement needs to get involved ASAP.

Of course, the local law enforcement people from where he is will probably go "Oh no, HIM again!"

the problem with folks this dumb and dangerous is that they seem to make it through ok, but lots of people around them get hurt in the process.

2:11 pm on May 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

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If in doubt - call your local police station. Or the police station in his vicinity and ask them for advice and tell them about your suspicion. If this guy is a fraudster you can bet that you are not the only one he tries to screw. They can send a patrol car to check out the address - if the address is really a branch of example university there is no harm done. If it isn't the guy will have to answer some questions.

And no - you are not keeping the police away from doing more important work.

Usually they can check out such things in no time. I had a case recently with two direct debit chargebacks only a few weeks apart. The same guy had ordered with two slightly different names - Joe Exampl and Joseph Exampel. When I noticed I informed the responsible police station in his city - which funny enough was only a few hundred meters away from the address and they drove by. It turned out that his real name was John Example and that I was not the only one he had ripped off.

2:43 pm on May 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

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He actually did give a last name, and according to the White Pages there are two people living at that address with that name. But I pieced together the phone number he gave as munged (put a period instead one of the numbers in the area code) and it actually belongs to someone else at that address. He also emails with a screenname with yet another last name. All these names have the same initials.

I think that's a good idea about contacting his local police. I can give them the info and they can deal with it or not.

3:48 pm on May 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

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trinorthlighting- thanks for the link! It's just what I needed for a recent situation.
6:25 pm on May 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

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[ic3.gov...] [ic3.gov...] [ic3.gov...]
12:19 am on May 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I've had people claim to toss their gift cards out after purchase when I've refunded them too. (who would do that? Anytime I get a gift card I keep it until I'm sure I won't need to return the items!)

I usually just tell them to contact Visa or whoever the card was issued by, to get their money back.

If they don't tell you ahead of time it's a temporary card, how were you supposed to know?

6:48 pm on May 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

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If if he were to sue you, he'd have to:

Prove that you were served with notification of the court date.

If you didn't show and he got a default judgment, based on what it sounds like, it would be a small claims judgment. These (in NY state anyway) are only enforcable in the state in which the judgment is issued.

He would then have to take it to the local sheriff to enforce, who if they were not able to locate assets for your company(
not your website, but whatever your incorporated company is) in their jurisdiction, would just return it as unsatisfied.

And that's where it would end.

10:50 pm on May 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

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jake66, I tried to explain to him that I did not know it was a gift card, and in retrospect, i don't think it actually was one, because after this whole kerfuffle, I saw that the street address and zip matched through AVS, and I can't imagine that happening on a gift card. I think he just lied for some reason. I don't know why.

Thanks, MrFishGuy, for the info. I have not heard back from this wacko.

3:50 pm on May 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I saw that the street address and zip matched through AVS, and I can't imagine that happening on a gift card.

If memory serves, my processor returns "N/A" rather than "Match" for the AVS on a gift card. However, it is possible that this varies between processors and possibly even between issuing gift card companies.

5:02 pm on May 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Seems like I remember authorize.net putting out a document that said gift cards would produce "No Match" with the AVS. I went to authorize.net when this happened to look for it but couldn't find it.

[edited by: HRoth at 5:02 pm (utc) on May 16, 2008]

2:10 am on May 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

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We're told that it is sometimes possible to add your address onto a gift card through the issuer's website for AVS purposes.
5:58 pm on May 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Okay, that's good to know.
2:02 pm on May 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

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There are some very odd people out there id call teh police and let you know teh products could harm people
 

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