This past Friday, a gentleman came to my warehouse door because he saw that we had some empty wooden cable reels in the yard. He asked if he could buy them for $30.00 each. Of course I would have been happy if he took them away for free, but a few extra bucks sure wouldn't hurt.
He claimed to be a representative of a very poor American Indian tribe from Arizona. He said that things are so bad there that he goes around to larger cities seeking scrap wood and metal to help his community. He asked if he could come in and take a look around to see if we had anything else that we were looking to get rid of and promised to pay top dollar. I had lots of short pieces of cable, old phone equipment, etc. that I was happy to get rid of, especially since he would come in and move it out himself. After having looked around, he found enough "junk" and made me an offer of $500.00 for the entire lot, cash. He also showed me a wad of $100.00 bills that had to have been at least $5,000.00. While he proceeded to load up his truck, I went outside and jotted down his tag number (sure enough, it was an Arizona plate). He also showed me his driver's license, also from Arizona.
He claimed that they recycle this material and use the proceeds to help fund the schools on the reservation. Since he was paying about twice what my local recycler pays, I saw it as a win-win situation. Still, in the back of my mind, I saw this as being too good to be true.
He had a very nice rig, a fairly new GMC 6500 series 5th wheel truck and about a 30' enclosed flatbed trailer. He was only able to take about half of what he wanted to take and gave me $200.00 cash with the promise that he'd be back bright and early to get the rest and pay for the balance. Most of what he took on Friday was the valuable stuff, like copper.
He didn't show up today and he's not answering his cell phone. At this point, I'm probably out about $200.00 for what he took on Friday. Since much of this stuff had no value to me, I'm not too terribly worried about. In hindsight, I do think that he ended up paying me about 2/3 of what he should have for what he took.
I suppose that he may still show up today and that he may be legitimate. I just have to wonder if maybe I fell for something that may come back to bite me later. I did take his cash to the bank and confirmed that the two $100.00 bills were not fakes. Maybe I'm just being a bit overly-cautious at this point, but something just doesn't add up in my mind.
If this guy shows up in your area (he claims to go nationwide), be sure to complete the transaction on the spot. Like I said, most of what he took was wasting valuable space, so in a way I'm glad that he came. I still can't help but wondering just exactly what he's up to.
Well, it does look as if I got scammed. He never came back and doesn't answer his cell phone. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and waited all day. I get the generic voice mail message for a cell phone mailbox that hasn't been set up.
Anyway, he agreed to pay me $500.00 for the lot, took most of it on Friday, paid $200.00 as a deposit with the promise of returning today for the rest and paying the remaining $300.00. The rest of the lot has NO value whatsoever.
I'm still not truly out anything since what he paid me is about what my regular recycler would have paid anyway. It's just the deceptive approach. Don't go around using the name and heritage of American Indian tribes and their underprivileged reservations and children in the name of scamming a few bucks. I'd have probably handed him a few bucks if he had just asked for a donation.
If he'd just offered me $200.00, I'd have probably taken it. I have now paid someone to neatly pile up the rest of the junk he said he wanted for nothing. He basically got away with about $300.00 worth of scrap copper for $200.00 on a handshake.
The guy represents himself as Mike Lee, about 5'-8", obviously American Indian with an Arizona accent. The cell phone number that he gave me is 720-982-5055. His truck's tag number is Arizona CE-04390. This is just a heads-up in case he comes to your neck of the woods.
BTW: He wasn't claiming that he was taking the stuff back to Arizona. He claimed that he was purchasing and processing it locally and sending the money back to the reservation. I would never have believed that he was driving that rig back and forth across the country for scrap. Well, actually I did think he was that dumb until I realized that I was the dumber one.
But I am curious about one thing Ed.... You said he had an Arizona accent. I've lived here in AZ most of my life and didn't realize we had an accent! I guess it's all relative.
It's kind of hard to describe; not a strong accent like someone from New York City or Atlanta either. More of a Midwestern accent where "O's" are very strongly pronounced. He definitely had that look and sound of a true American Indian if that makes any sense.
Since the scrap actually came to what you would have gotten I guess that panned out and you got some more space but like the others i am concerned that he was shopping for treasure that might be available after hours. Time to rent the dog and install the alarm. Now you are out more than $200 with security fees. Add a Lock or two too. Second I might report it to the police just in case the scam goes deeper. The greatest probability is he got what he wanted and you actually got what you would have so no real harm but the concern that a shady deal has opened you to the possibility of worse to come.
We see this all the time here in Upstate SC. Same exact scenario, except with a different twist. The guy I came in contact with said they use the copper for Indian jewelry that they sell on the reservation. They don't rip people off, they are taught how to buy everything from transformers to wire by just looking. No weighing. They flash a wad of cash and offer top dollar. But what they are actually doing is getting the copper for less than you would get if you used a re cycler. I know several motor shops that use them. They can look at a pile of magnet wire that has been burned and know what to offer and what it is really worth. Then they take that to your re cycler and make money. They are very persistent and scary sometimes. But we have found out they are just so good at estimating, they can make money off most anybody.
The only reason some shops deal with them is so they do not need a metal bin and they still get a few bucks, even though it is less than they would get from a reputable scrap yard.
It is quite possible that he simply overestimated what you had and after cherry picking out the best stuff he just bailed with what he had. I had the same thing happen to me with stuff I was just giving away. It took 3 different people to get a couple hundred CMUs and a stack of rebar out of here. (2 guys who wanted block/rebar and a scrapper) I still have a stack of pallets to get rid of.
You may want to call around on those first. The GC on our job says he gets $3 for every pallet that is in good shape. I found this out only after I had a few in the back of the pickup truck I was throwing away. You should have seen him sprint across the job. One man's trash......
"If common sense was common, everyone would have it"-not sure, someone here