Earth Hour

Monday, September 5, 2011

Would you buy a wooden iPad or a paper laptop?

Two weird but very real stories on the Internet caught my attention last week.  One was about a woman who thought she got an iPad for a bargain at $180 only to find out later that it was made of wood and obviously a fake.  The other one was about another woman who bought a laptop for $250, which turned to be a bunch of papers wrapped in packaging tape accompanied by a power cord.

A wooden iPad? (source:

What made these stories even weirder is that it happened in the same city: Spartanburg, South Carolina.  The modus operandi was almost similar.  Victim was approached by two men who offered bargain priced laptops, iPad and other gadgets that were in a shipping box.  Both crimes happened in a parking lot, one in McDonald's and the other in a gas station.  Both women didn't open their package until they get home, only to find out that they've been bilked of their money.

My first reaction after reading these stories was that, these women could have been victimized by a budol-budol gang member.  For the uninitiated, this gang operates in the streets of Manila showing their would be victims a pile of money inside a bag.  The gang would ask the poor unsuspecting person for some cash or to  withdraw something from the ATM since they needed to buy something.  Upon getting the money, they would give the bag to their victim and promise to comeback for it after they bought what they needed.  They also promise the victim that they would give some of the money in the bag for helping them.  The victim could wait the whole day and they would never return, and when he opens the bag he finds a bundle of cut-up newspapers and no money.

Some of the victims would swear that they actually saw a thick bundle of money in one-hundred peso bills.  Others would report that they felt like they were hypnotized or seduced by the person who approached them that's why they willing handed them money or withdrew some from the ATM.  But many suspect that it was just the lure of easy money that got the better of these people and made them give up their cash.

So could it be that budol-budol gang has transferred their operations to South Carolina?  But wait, the report said that the women did not see the "merchandise" until they reached home and opened the box.  Perhaps it's just a case of two persons who thought they snagged a bargain that was too good to be true.   Unfortunately, it was really just like that: too good to be true.

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