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My search on Craigslist for a used car for sale from a private seller soon yielded some exciting results.  When I compared the listed cars to the appraisal value, they were selling for way under market value, by thousands of dollars.  According to the listings, these couple cars had low mileage, were about 6 or 7 years old, good brands, and had some nice features.  I wondered what was wrong with them.  Still, not wanting to pass up a possible good deal, I sent out emails asking for more information.  My number one question is the VIN #, by which you can purchase a vehicle history report through CarFax.com or AutoCheck.com.  AutoCheck’s unlimited subscription was cheaper than Carfax’s, so I went with them.  It was about $45.

 

One woman emailed back, explaining that she was about to ship out to Afghanistan, and so needed to ship the car quickly.  She included a link to more information about the car, including a list of features, and the VIN.  But her though her listing had said the car was in Denver, her email said it was in Nevada.  And when I looked up the VIN, the Vehicle History Report gave some different information about the car, even some disturbing things like accidents or salvage titles.  She said she wanted to use Ebay’s Buyer Protection program to complete the transaction, so we would both be protected.  But Ebay doesn’t offer buyer protection unless the sale is done on Ebay.  How would that work?

 

Then I got another email about another car that was a great deal on Craigslist.  This email sounded way too similar.  He was about to ship out to Afghanistan also, but from North Dakota, and wanted the money to buy military stocks.  He would us a Military Shipping and Sales Service to protect our transaction, and ship the car to me free of charge.  I ran a Google search on his Military Shipping and Sales service.  I’ve played around with making a letter look like official letterhead.  If you can get a picture of the official symbols and match the fonts, you’re doing great.  Add in a link to the real organization, and the website is a pretty convincing fake.  There are a couple different websites that come up for US Military Shipping.  Both look real enough, but are pretty vague on how they work.  They link to a real US military site, at the bottom, claiming to be associated with them.  But they aren’t.  If you look at other Google entries, they are known frauds.

 

So I went on Craigslist and flagged the second emailer’s listing as a fraud.  And then I emailed him, telling him that I wasn’t dumb and wouldn’t be sending money for a car that wasn’t real.  And then I emailed the first one, giving the benefit of the doubt and just telling her I wanted to complete a transaction locally because there are so many scams on Craigslist.  She wrote back!  As though desperate for me to purchase her car, she told me more, that it was all ready to be shipped and shipping had been paid because another buyer backed out last minute.  She told me “more” about how Ebay Buyer Protection would work, that it left no risk to me and she would have to deal with getting the car back if I changed my mind in the risk-free period.  Or if I wanted to do a transaction face to face I could go out to Nevada to pick up the (crated?) car myself.

 

What pressure!  But the pushing made me more suspicious.  I did a Google search on her name.  She is supposedly a doctor and a Colonel, and yet there was no record of her online.  So I searched her division in the reserves and found an email from way back in June, with a different name, virtually identical to the second email she sent me.  She is listed as a fraud.  So I flagged her listing as well, and emailed her that I was not falling for her scam.  (She even used the same gmail address she had used in the past.  These crooks are lazy!)

 

Some of the fraud websites suggested we report these scams to the FTC.  So I went to their website and filed a complaint with all the information I had on each person – probably not enough to actually find the real people and convict them – and gave a summary of what had happened and what other action I had taken (flagging as “prohibited” on Craigslist).

 

At the top of Craigslist I noticed alerts in red, that all offers to ship cars are fraudulent.  There are companies that ship cars, but it is not a good idea to do that via Craigslist, with strangers.  Nor should you wire any money for transactions.  As I continued my searches, I began to note likely scams in the listings (some used similar fonts on their vehicle images, had similar vehicle makes and years for way under value).  One big red flag is that they don’t put a phone number in the listing.  So I gave these people a chance.  I emailed asking for more information.  If they offered to ship the car, I flagged them on Craigslist and reported them to the FTC.  Afterwards apparently it scared the scammers off for a while.

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

 

Below, for the purposes of anyone who happens to Google similar emails, is the text of every fraudulent email I received.

 

Hello,
First of all I would like to thank you for your interest in my car. This 2004 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SE  Sedan with 72,765 miles runs and drives excellent. This car has been extremely well maintained with a full service history. It has no leaks or drips and does not smoke at all. I am the first owner of this car with a clear title free of encumbrances and liens. All regular maintenance was performed at an authorized garage.
I have dropped my price to $2,676 (purchase price), since this is an Urgent Sale! At the moment I’m stationed at Nevada Air National Guard from Reno/Tahoe IAP(ANGB), making final preparations before deploying to Afghanistan. If you’re interested to conclude this purchase in a timely manner email me your name and shipping address to open a case with eBay’s Buyer Protection Program and they will contact you to explain the entire procedure. The financial part will be managed by them, which means that you will have a 5 days inspection period before committing to buy the car.  In this way both, buyer and seller are 100% covered during the steps of this transaction.

For more details and pictures click on this link: https://sites.google.com/site/2004nissanmaxima35sesedan/

Hope to hear from you soon.


Col.(Dr.) Michelle Branning
Reno/Tahoe IAP(ANGB)
Nevada Air National Guard
152nd Airlift Wing

——————————————————————————————————–

Good afternoon,

The car is already at the shipping company, crated and ready to go from Reno, NV. So you can either come pick it up yourself today or I can take care of the shipping for you. I had another customer who said it will buy and after I made all the necessary arrangements in advance and paid for all shipping & handling fees, changed his mind because didn’t have all the money. This is why I need to ship it since all transportation charges have already been paid by me. Shipping may take anywhere between 4 to 6 business days depending on the destination. All documents you need for ownership, title, manuals and bill of sale will be provided along with the car.
As I know that my current situation is pretty special I want the deal closed only through eBay’s Buyer Protection Program. They will keep your money into a protection account until you get the car and will release it to me ONLY AFTER inspection period is over and you agree to keep the car. So, this is not a blind transaction, you can physically see the car before committing to buy and to eliminate any concerns you will have 5 days to inspect the car. If you decide not to keep it eBay will refund you the money, no questions asked, and shipping back will be my concern. I think this is more than fair for both of us.
I’ll start the official procedure, and eBay will contact us about this in less than 24 hrs.
If you are interested in buying it just mail me back with:
– Your Full Name – Required by eBay (You’ll receive important guidelines + instructions from them);
– Your Shipping Address and Phone Number – Required by the Shipping company (They will call you with delivery/pickup instructions 1 day ahead so you can communicate what time schedule work best for you to receive the car).
Again I want to point out that because I am going to Afghanistan this sale is my top priority and I am after a fast transaction, with no delays. That is why I decided to lower the price, to avoid wasting time with negotiations and find a buyer as soon as possible.

Thanks, hope to do business with you soon!

Col.(Dr.) Michelle Branning
Reno/Tahoe IAP(ANGB)
Nevada Air National Guard
152nd Airlift Wing

————————————————————————————————-

Hello,
This 2004 Toyota Camry XLE V6 AUTOMATIC with 54710 Miles has a clear title. The general condition is excellent with no cosmetic complaints really worth comment. Both remote keys are present and are in working order,no electrical issues.
Everything  work perfect!
Price was reduced to $2700 (URGENT SALE) as I need to sell it in 2 weeks because I will leave with other troops in Afganistan and now US Army give us the chance to
buy some shares at BNSF RAILWAY.Co at half price and for this reason I need a fast transaction .
In order to sell my car, I will use US Army Shopping Service. This service was made only for US ARMY members to helps US Army memebrs to sell goods online !
So we can close the deal by US Army Shopping Service you must send the money to our Financial Department and after that the logistics department will shipp you the car and all the sale documents!
If you’re really interested in buying my car, make sure that you really have the cash available!
At the moment I’m stationed in our US Military AFB in NORTH DAKOTA making final preparations before deploying to Afganistan with the U.S. Convoy !
The car is already at our Military Logistic Department in our military base in NORTH DAKOTA , crated and ready to go.
The shipping is free because all the US Army members have 1 free delivery per year anywhere in US !
If you have any questions or if you want to buy my car just let me now and I will get back to you with more details about this transaction that will be done by US ARMY SHOPPING SERVICE !
I wish prefert to talck all the transaction details by the phone but right now I`m in a military base, getting ready for Afganistan and for this reason I will not have access to the phone for the next 2 weeks !
PICTURS ARE AVAILABLE IF YOU WANT ! JUST TELL ME AND I WILL SEND YOU THE PICS !

I’m waiting your answer !

———————————————————————————————-

Hi again,

I have received your email regarding the 2003 Nissan Maxima SE with only 44,000 miles.
The car is in perfect condition,with no scratches on it,no damage, clear title.
The price for the car is $2,850 with shipping included.The car was my husband`s as he loved it very much, but he did not enjoy it as he died in a IRAQ 3 month ago. It brings very bad memories to me, I want to get rid of it.
The buyer will receive the car with all papers and receipts that he needs to register it to his name.
Shipping will be done whit DAS and it will take no more then 2-3 days. I have a friend there who will manage me a low price shipping and I assumed that it is my duty to pay for shipping it.It will be delivered directly to your address.Anyway, I have to let you know that I want a fast deal so if you are really interested in buying it,please reply with the following information’s:
-Your full name;
-Your shipping address.(street,city,state,zip code)
The transaction will close only through eBay so we both will be protected.
I want eBay because as they are the biggest company on the Internet I think that we can close this deal fast and safe for both of us. Also I am not very familiar with the Internet transactions and eBay is the only one I know.I will look for your email,so that we can move forward with this deal!
Let me know.
Regards,

Amanda

 

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There is a routine I have in those free times when I turn on my computer. It is usually accompanied by supper or a bowl of Extreme Moosetracks chocolate ice cream.

The first thing I do is pull up my Outlook Express and get it started downloading my emails. Then I open a window of Facebook (more recently via Google Chrome) and log in. While that is loading, I open two more tabs and send them to Blogger and WordPress.

Facebook is a between times activity. When a separate page is loading, or between tasks, I go scroll through my friends’ status updates, commenting on a few of them. I check to see who is listed as “online” at the moment, but hardly ever start chats with them. If a friend wants to chat with me, however, I’m usually up for it.

My Blogger Dashboard has my blog reader listed on it, so I begin scrolling through recently updated blogs for any that look interesting. I always click on the first post from A Holy Experience. That beautiful site plays the most peaceful music in the background, a soothing atmospheric playlist that can repeat for hours without growing old. It is also one of the blogs on which I will read every post until I am caught up. The other blog for which I do that is my brother’s, Silence Spoken. We’re like best friends, so I know most of what he says, though his poetry is a removed perspective, a picturesque turn of words to express the big ideas in his head and heart. Usually I will go through and open all the eye-catching blog titles in their own new tabs, so that I can read them later.

My email takes a while to download, but by this time they should be viewable. I start by deleting the emails I don’t want: updates from Amazon.com, Avon, weather forecasts from the week prior, Human Events ads and articles that I get because they are kind enough to email me Ann Coulter’s articles each week. Then I start at the earliest unread email and begin reading. Most are little Facebook notifications: someone commented on my wall. Another person added a comment to a wall-post or status on which I had commented. Friend requests and acceptances. Every month or so I collect all these into a separate file for archived Facebook notifications. The best things to read are emails sent just to me by a real live friend. Life ponderings, prayers and prayer requests, encouragement, or invitations to get together, these are my computer priority, and almost always earn a reply.

Blogger and WordPress will tell me if I have comments to approve for my blogs. I’ll read those, post them, and reply to them. On Blogger I will check out their profiles and their blogs if they have any. Then I stick in my USB thumb drive to upload the blogs I’ve written during my breaks at work. You can observe for yourself how frequently this happens. Finally I check WordPress for my blog stats, to see which posts are the most popular and if there are any surges of traffic. My most popular articles are about auto warranty telemarketers, chivalry and romanticism, making grilled cheese sandwiches Sometimes I’ll get a hit on a post I forgot I wrote, and I go see what the post was about.

Next I open an additional Internet Explorer or Google Chrome window. I use that to do my projects. Maybe I’m going to search for some information. See if a book I heard about is at my library. Renew library items. Shop. Check my Etsy.com shop, Mi-Re-Do.com website, Googleads, or ebay. I like to download “Let My People Think” at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. Maybe I’ll be researching for my blog or my business.

IMDB is the best website for information on movies and actors – unless you want to buy a movie, and then Amazon is the place. When I post book reviews, I post them to Amazon.com as well. To see a decent review of a recent mainstream movie, Plugged In is pretty good. They do have spoilers, and I don’t always agree with their assessments or interpretations, but they have accurate objectionable content evaluation. For Bible Study, I use Blue Letter Bible, which has multiple versions, an online Strong’s concordance that can cross-reference the Greek words and root words too. Del.icio.us is on my toolbar so that I can quickly bookmark any awesome but singular articles I find and want to remember. (WordPress’s widget allows you to see my recent tags on Del.icio.us.)

If I am bored or lonely, I will frequently refresh Facebook and go searching for more than status updates on my friends, looking through their new photo albums especially. The best are babies and weddings, followed very closely by scenic pictures of far-off lands. When inspired, I update my own status. It usually has to do with what I did that day, will do tomorrow, or have been thinking. For some reason movies make frequent appearances.

When it seems my favorite blogs have been insufficiently updated, when I am craving a good intellectual read or a warm, encouraging girlfriend read, I’ll go to blogs that have lots of links and start exploring. Carolyn McCulley often has good links. WordPress has a tag surfer feature to find like-topic blogs. Or I can search places like Ligonier Ministries or Boundless for interesting articles. When I find a blog I may want to follow, I do follow it, pasting its URL into my Blog Reader on Blogger. It’s an eclectic list, as you can see if you look on my Profile.

Before I turn off my computer, I refresh Facebook one more time and check for any new emails. Then I minimize any windows I want to keep open, close the rest, and put my little laptop into hibernation.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Simon says?  Exercises?  Arrests?  Hide and go seek?  Illegal hands to the face? 

 

My hands have spent a lot of time on my head lately.  Life is too big for me sometimes.  Like this week.  At my church I’ve been teaching a women’s Sunday morning Bible study on Ephesians.  Have you ever looked at a hill from a distance and thought you could get to the top in an hour or two, only to discover when you get closer that the hill is a mountain with no scalable paths?  And for a breathless, unmeasurable time, you think you’ll never make it; you wonder why you tried.  At the last possible moment, wings come in, sweeping you up like the eagles to hobbits on Mount Doom.  God’s grace comes beneath your weakness, and through no fault of your own, you’re at the top, taking down your hands from your face to enjoy the view. 

I watched a movie the other night.  It wasn’t a really good movie.  The cinematography was unique, and the acting was superb.  Anthony Hopkins, playing a familiarly dramatic role, was suppressing his emotions, and trying to hide them.  He kept holding his face in front of his eyes as if shielding them from a light, when really he was shielding tears from sight.  Even when there aren’t people to see me, I keep putting my hand over my eyes.  Actually, at twenty-three, it’s hard to cry anymore, so the gesture is an act of the will to indicate emotion I can’t express any other way.  But the emotions, even at my age, must be expressed. 

A friend and I are starting a small group for high school girls, and quite frankly, I don’t know where to start in connecting with them.  Emma describes Robert Martin to her friend Harriet (in the Gwyneth Paltrow adaptation) as a man as much above her notice as below it.  Is evangelism and discipleship like that?  Either people know they need discipleship and God’s grace because they’re that mature or because they’re that empty? And I’m looking at some of these girls seeing so much need, but they’re not quite broken enough yet to value it, and I don’t know how to start a conversation or to whet an appetite for a close relationship with God.  I guess it’s all up to Him. 

Psalm 32 contains God’s promise to guide me with His eyes.  So maybe putting my palms over my eyes is a way of getting me to follow Him, recognizing my own lack of wisdom.  Too bad God has to force me into faith. 

Then recently every time I try to get on the internet (check my library due dates, blog, check messages, look up movie times) I have to refresh a hundred times, and it still doesn’t work.  I’m so inefficient, and end up doing a fraction of the things I’d intended with a day.  That’s a cause of frustrated grasping of my head. 

Maybe excitement could explain the frequent movement, too.  This week quite unexpectedly I made my first sale on my business website: www.LadyofLongbourn.com  Another exciting find was a website about Hebrew alphabets and words that argues for a Hebrew – or Edenic (long story) – etymology for most words worldwide. True or not my mind has been spinning with possibilities, and I’m finding it incredibly easy to learn new Hebrew words.  But then I always have. 

On Monday I got a bargain at the thrift store, and spent less than $3 on a brand new CD of classic hymns sung by the amazing St. Olaf’s Choir.  St. Olaf is a Lutheran Bible College whose incredible music department was featured on TV this Christmas season.  My brother and I stayed up irrationally (but not atypically) late watching it one night.  The beauty – the gift of it so touched me that I put my hands to my head. 

Dad and I went to the Colorado Republican caucus on Tuesday, which was an experience in disorganization and disbelief you wouldn’t, uh, believe!  Do you know the actual rules stated that ties in our precinct should be decided by a coin toss?  No one had any idea what they were doing, and since I couldn’t help us out, I put my hands on my head. 

Sunday I sat on the floor in my sanctuary, which was an exciting change.  You’ve no idea how many times I wanted to sit on the floor instead of formal, uncomfortable, modern chairs.  Mary of Bethany sat at Jesus’ feet, and that is quite my preference.  I probably won’t do it all the time; I fought against feeling self-conscious.  But it was neat to experience freedom in that way. 

The Superbowl…  Ok, to stop all scorn in its tracks, I babysat for a neighborhood outreach party put on by a church plant in Denver, and then hung out with everyone for the last quarter, so it isn’t like I was idolizing football or anything.  The Superbowl was a nail-biter, quite exciting.  I couldn’t believe some of the plays I witnessed.  Nice escape, interesting throw, and impossible catch for essential first down.  Yep.  I even know what I’m talking about.  Hands over my eyes. 

Monday was a rambling day, much like this post.  How beautiful to spend unhurried time at the library, wandering around, thinking, scurrying back and forth from the movie shelves to the computers (which work!) there, as an idea of another movie to watch came to mind…  And then on Wednesday I got to go to tea with a new friend.  Tea, yes.  I had mint chai, which is just as good as the other varieties I’ve had.  With enough sugar almost any tea tastes good, I think.  I just needed to get tea done the British way, with milk, too. 

I’ve been doing much praying for a special person, name to be announced sometime after I learn it myself.  My expectations for him are so high that it’s only right I support him now, already, in prayer.  But then I miss him.  And I cover my face shutting out the vastness of the world that separates him from me – but, of course, all in God’s capable and good hands.  Um.  That was code.  It all means that I wonder where my husband is, and when he’ll come, and want him to be here sooner than later, but I have no idea who or where He is.  But God knows, and I trust God. 

This week I spoke with a few friends about honesty, and how we wish the world would let us say the truth, say what’s on our hearts without code or offense.  At least with them I’ll practice it.  I hope they will with me.  No mask here.  Which reminds me – I’ve watched several movies with masks or masquerades in them recently.  Lots of movies. 

But movies always make me think.  A movie I want to see as of today is Penelope, due to limited release on February 29.  The fantasy, fairy-tale-ish story has a message of honesty, of taking the hands from the face and being yourself for all the world to see and know – even risking the hurt. 

YLCF was a special blessing this evening, since the most recent post specifically addressed the topic of waiting for one’s handsome prince, and what to do while you wait.  I know those things.  I certainly rebel on occasion.  The reminder was important to get me refocused, to seek the most excellent and most fulfilling. 

I’m craving tea: my mom’s blackberry, which I never like.  The clock, at almost midnight after a long day, declines my craving.  In fact I even have to stop my ramble through writing.  This post is the way I used to write emails to my friends: late at night, a summary of a dozen thoughts and events that come together to form a sort of three-strand theme.  If my brother were writing, this would be a strongly metaphorical poem (trying to make sense of which would bring my hands once again to my head).  My other brother would tell a wonderful allegory.  I’m trying to get the latter to guest blog here sometime.  He has a great story about orange juice… 

Ramble away in the comments.  Feel free to put the unconcise, irrelevant, unfinished thoughts you can’t submit as an English paper, or publish on your blog, or tell your friends when they ask how you are doing.  Good night. 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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