How the scam works:
(with video below) This is an old scam that still is perpetrated by criminals working in pairs. One of them is going into an expensive restaurant wearing poor looking clothes. He eats but then he claims to have left his wallet at home, which is nearby. As collateral, the crook leaves his only worldly possession, an antique object that provides his livelihood (it could be a music instrument or a watch). After he leaves, the second con man swoops in, offers an outrageously large amount (maybe $8,000) for such a rare instrument, then pretends to run off to an appointment, leaving his business card for the mark to call him when the owner returns.
The mark's greed comes into play when the “poor man” comes back, having gotten the money to pay for his meal and redeem his property. The mark, thinking he has an offer on the table, then buys the instrument from the player who “reluctantly” agrees to sell it for a certain amount that still allows the mark to make a “profit” from the valuable piece. The result is the two con men are richer (less the cost of the instrument), and the mark is left with a cheap instrument. The scam is also known as the Fiddle Game, as the instrument is typically a violin.
The scam is featured in the Sanford and Son TV series, in the Pot Luck episode. Watch the episode below to see the Antique Resale Scam exposed:
How to avoid:
When it comes to buying antiques, always ask at least a couple of reputable specialists for their opinion. Research these specialists as well. If you don't know nothing about antique selling, you tend to believe anything. Think about it. Scammers do this every day, they know way better than you how to sale a piece of junk.
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