Derek Kessler Profile picture
Jan 4, 2018 193 tweets 44 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
On the phone with scammers trying to convince me that I’ve won two million dollars by shopping at Walmart.

I don’t shop at Walmart.

I’m dragging this on by trying to get them to explain how I won this sweepstakes I never entered.

My name is Steve Trevor, born 3 February 1973.
“There are doing unscrupulous people out there, Mr. Trevor.”

“There are, indeed.”
“Don’t tell anyone. We suggest you keep this private from your friend and family until we’ve completed the transfer.”

“Yeah, that sounds smart. I wouldn’t want anybody to get the wrong idea about me.”

“You’ll not tell no one, Mr. Steve?”

“My lips are sealed.”
Robert is going to call back tomorrow to arrange delivery on the 12th of my two million dollars and my new Mercedes insured for two years with my insurance company.

Judging by his heavy Indian accent, I suspect his name isn’t Robert.
Scammers have called back twice today — 7AM and noon — after I told them they should call me in the evening. My landscaping business is keeping me very busy this winter.
Both times they called (“unknown caller”, by the way), I let it ring. As soon as it timed out to voicemail they immediately hung up and tried again.

Eagerly anticipating if they’ll call tonight as promised.
Robert called back. He’s now Brandon.

They’re stuck in California. The California Police won’t let them cross the border with this much money. Which is a check. But if we have a business arrangement…

I’m to money order him $1500 as a 20% investment in a “golden eagle stamp.”
Brandon hung up on me. He accused me of being the FBI because I was asking too many questions.
I hope he calls back.
Brandon called back. I was very upset that I wouldn’t be able to get my prize. He apologized for the trouble with their phone line.
Money order is now a wire transfer. I have an account number, routing, bank, name, address, and phone.

The manager, Mr. Foster, insisted my name was Victor. Which is not the Steve I said yesterday. We spent ten minutes going over the spelling — E T & V are hard over the phone.
Decided that the confusion must be because my father’s name was Victor. He passed 10 years ago in a tragic potato husker accident.

“Okay,” says a positively devestated Mr. Foster. Okay, he doesn’t care. These guys aren’t very good, but then again neither are their usual targets.
He’ll call me in the morning after I’ve done the transfer. I said I probably won’t answer because I leave my phone in the truck when I’m working. He should call me in the evening.

He’ll call me at 9.

I mean, he can try. I’ll be in an airplane to CES then, but whatever.
Mr. Foster had me recite a pledge that he says he recorded.

“I, Steve Trevor, will do anything to collect my prize. In the event that I cannot, I designate my daughter Julie Trevor to receive all my winnings.”

I messed it up 3 times, he accused me if not taking this seriously.
Calling the police to start the attempted fraud report. I doubt it’ll go anywhere, but it’s worth it to add to the statistics.

Obviously going to ignore Roberandon and Mr. Foster’s calls until the evening. Gotta play it cool so my co-workers don’t know I’m almost a millionaire.
Unsurprisingly, scammers just tried calling. Even though I told them I wouldn’t be able to answer until the evening — my landscaping job is very busy in January.

I’m thinking I might have broken my phone last night… or should I photoshop a fake wire transfer receipt?
Third attempted scammer call of the day. Definitely going to fake a transfer receipt so I can drag this out.
Brandon has not attempted to call me tonight. I’m concerned I may not get my two million dollars and my Mercedes.
Brandon called back! He never got a picture of the receipt for my $1500 wire transfer, without it they can’t go forward with my prize.

Alas, my phone’s broken and I lost the photo I took of it.

He’s now texting me, so I feel like our relationship is moving to the next level.
Brandon called impatient about my explanation. I tried to explain that my phone was malfunctioning… and hung up halfway through the explanation.
Unfortunately I left the transfer receipt at work and I won’t be back until Monday.
Brandon the scammer from India has called twice today to confirm that I’ll be sending him a receipt for my money transfer to his account.

I’ll definitely have to Photoshop that tonight. Hard part (mentally) will be making it look like I have a potato phone.
Fake transfer receipt for probably-not-Brandon prepped for tomorrow. Going to send it to him rotated 90° (and uncensored).
Sent totally-not Brandon the receipt this morning. He’s going to “update the system”. Haven’t heard anything for four hours. I hope it’s not causing him issues — I’ve got two million dollars and a Mercedes on the line here!
Likely-not-Brandon is concerned the funds haven’t been transferred yet into his account. But he says sometimes there’s a two-business-day processing time for transfers. He wants me to go to the bank tomorrow to check on the status.
Huh. After some texting I got a call from definitely-not-Brandon. Apparently even without the funds having been transferred they were permitted to cross the California border and are in their way to deliver y two million dollars and Mercedes on Friday! #blessed #scammed
I-don’t-think-he’s-Brandon called today for… I’m honestly not sure. Just to check in?
Perhaps-not-Brandon called several times this morning. Waited until Steve Trevor’s lunch break to answer — it seems the $1500 that I totally didn’t transfer hasn’t yet made it into their account! 😱
Yeah-he’s-not-Brandon gave me two tasks for today:

1) I need to go to the bank and verify that the transfer was completed — I already told him the money’s not in my account!

2) Send him a picture of Steve Trevor’s driver’s license. 😈
You know I am!
Perhaps-not-Brandon has not yet questioned Steve Trevor’s driver’s license.
Oh no! Logically-not-Brandon texted to say his bank still hasn’t received Steve Trevor’s money transfer and they have to push back tomorrow’s scheduled delivery of my two million dollars and Mercedes!

I am crushed.
Probably-not-Brandon finally called back! Steve Trevor was upset and confused, but Brandon was able to soothe his anger.

I’m going to withdraw $500 in cash and deposit it into his account instead. Also, they won’t be able to deliver my prize until the 20th. Sad.
Wait, no, he’s-not-Brandon called again. Apparently I’m to do a MoneyGram instead. He’s going to call to walk me through the form, so I’ve only got a few hours to get Forgery For Fun #3 ready.
No-way-it’s-Brandon instructed me to send a $500 MoneyGram to “Rosemary Barnard” (he gave me more address and account than needed) and to send him a photo of the receipt.

Well, it’s a picture of *a* receipt. None of the numbers will work, though.
Prep work for Monday morning when I’ll send Fake Brandon a fake receipt for when I fake deposit my fake money order for the fake business arrangement for the fake contest I won.

It’s a lot easier when I can just rebuild and print a thing versus photoshopping a photo.
Drat! Certainly-not-Brandon just informed me that they’re going to set up a Bank of America account (where Steve Trevor banks) to avoid the ongoing issues we’ve had with my non-transfers to their Wells Fargo account.

Intra-bank transfers should be instant. This poses an issue.
So how to drag this out… thinking a “new account hold” will happen when I attempt to fake deposit my fake money order. Bank of America has strong protections for its customers to prevent fraud — Steve Trevor is certain that not-Brandon isn’t in trouble, but thems the rules.
Considering that not-Brandon doesn’t have my name, any account numbers, or even a valid fake address (verified it doesn’t exist), I think I’ll be okay in the end.

Assuredly-not-Brandon keeps calling me during the day when Steve Trevor is at work. I established this with him on day one — two weeks ago — that my busted phone stays in the truck during work so I don’t bust it any more than it already is. Call in the evening. 🙄
Totally-not-Brandon finally called during the evening. It was the most passionate I’ve ever heard him — he *really* wants to get moving so he can deliver my prize by Saturday! But now he needs me to deliver $200 by 7PM via MoneyGram. This is going to be a challenge of my skills.
I finished earlier than planned. Gonna let not-Brandon sweat it out for a bit. After all.. this is the last of Steve Trevor’s money here.

Also: distributed organization they’ve got — I’ve fake-sent money to Wyoming, Michigan, and now Wisconsin.
Couldn’t-be-Brandon texts that he needs the MoneyGram reference number and then immediately calls.

And he needs me to spell my name (even though it’s on the receipt). That did give me the joy of spelling with a bunch of E T and V over the phone in Steve Trevor’s hilljack accent
No-way-he’s-Brandon called and yelled at me that I was supposed to SEND with MoneyGram, not to do a money order. So I started yelling back that this was the last of my money and I’m feeling like I’m being jerked around here!

I’m not on my way back to the MoneyGram.
Well, not-Brandon told me to return to MoneyGram, get a refund for the money order, then send.

Just one problem… MoneyGram refunds are processed via mail and may take up to 20 days (!) to process.

Steve Trevor has $32.17 in his account. He’s going to miss his mortgage payment.
I know, right!

I suspect that after two weeks his superiors are extra pissed that they’ve yet to get a dime from me… even though I’ve supposedly sent them $2000.

Informed not-Brandon about the MoneyGram mail-in refund processing time. And that Steve has just $32.17 left in his account. I’m going to miss my mortgage. I start stuttering all over myself. There’s crowd noise audio in my background because I’m at Wax-Mart.
Sure-whatever-Brandon’s reaction: a very real “Oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my god ohhh noooo I don’t know what to… I don’t know what to do.”

I hear angry yelling in the background.

This is going well.
I’ve been instructed to go to the Verizon store (which is on the other side of town, so it’ll take 30 minutes) and buy an iPhone 6 Plus on contract… for not-Brandon’s son when he delivers my prize?

Couldn’t get a clear answer. Not sure where this is going. Any ideas, Twitter?
Oh no! I just checked and the Verizon Store in Washington Court House, Ohio closes at 7PM!

What will not-Brandon do?

Also, it’s across the parking lot from the local Walmart, not across town. Whoops.

I hope he doesn’t notice my glaring error. /s
False-Brandon called before I was supposed to get to the Verizon store, so I had to fake rickety car sounds (got up and shook my chair so it rattled).

He wants me to… take a picture of the iPhone once I purchase it. Oooookay?
Informed not-Brandon that the Verizon store was closed with apologized profusely for letting him down — and heard more background yelling.

He said that it’s okay, providing minimal comfort, I can just go tomorrow after work.

I’m sure he’ll call and text multiple times anyway.
Still really unsure about how buying an iPhone fits into the scam.

All I can think is some sort of refund scam where they’ll try and return it and get the money, or maybe some sort of iCloud account scam.

Better register a fake iCloud account, just in case.
Fake iCloud will need a fake email, naturally.

I don’t know where Steve Trevor ends and Derek Kessler begins.
This is something I’ve considered… not sure what it’d take to pull off, though. Most money order places require you to have an ID to pick up.

I checked Verizon’s website just to be sure — the iPhone 6 Plus that not-Brandon said to get is pretty old. Verizon no longer sells it.

Told him the store rep’s giving me “a reel hard sell on a galaxys8” — and not-Brandon’s fine with that instead.

So this isn’t an iCloud thing.
Still not sure where this is going.

Side note: I’ve gotten in the habit of just pulling the phone from the box and ignoring the rest of the contents. I knew the GS8 had excellent AKG earbuds, but I didn’t realize Samsung also included USB-C-to-A and Micro-USB-to-C adapters.
And now I have my answer. I’m supposed to mail it to his house for his son, even though not-Brandon is supposed to come to my house tomorrow to deliver my $2 million and Mercedes.

Now faking a USPS flat rate shipping receipt.
Address for not-Brandon’s son is this place:…

Also, not-Brandon gave me a screenshot for the address that has numbers in the last name field. 🤔
And it’s not in the mail!

Not-Brandon has taken to calling Steve Trevor “buddy”. I think we’re going to be best friends.
Drat, in addition to my purposefully false numbers, I also typoed on “evidence”.

Will not-Brandon notice? Is the jig up? Stay tuned…
There’s also that. 😆

Maybe-not-Brandon called. He’s very sorry that they won’t be able to deliver my prize tomorrow.

But he’s covering my processing fee (the $1500 that was for a golden eagle stamp co-investment) and late fees (the unexplained $500 & $200 money orders) and will be here in 3-4 days.
Steve Trevor really appreciates not-Brandon’s generosity and patience through all of this.

Thankfully, Steve’s never really ventured out of central Ohio, so his concept of how long it takes to travel from the California border to Ohio isn’t that firm.
Okay, yes, there are a few typos in my fake receipt. I was working on a time crunch and Photoshop was lagging behind my typing, okay?

It’s not like not-Brandon cares. He loves Steve Trevor for who he is on the inside.

I’d like to thank Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer, and Donald Trump for the next delay gotr not-Brandon and Steve: the government shutdown has closed USPS (it won’t) so my package is stuck at the post office (it doesn’t exist) and the tracking number isn’t active yet (it’s fake).
I don’t even know what’s happening anymore. Is not-Brandon now my BFF? 🤔
Possibly-not-Brandon says my prize will be delivered on “Tue 22”! Steve Trevor is excited… and unaware that Tuesday is the 23rd.

Or is not-Brandon calling my bluff on the typo date on the faked USPS receipt I sent him? Seems unlikely.
Not-at-all-Brandon keeps asking me what I’m doing. Informed him that Sundays are “for praysing THE LORD and football as GOD intended!!”

I’m now an Eagles fan. And he wants a picture of the game on TV. Alright, buddy.
When this is finally over I’m going to have to reset my Gboard dictionary. I’ve inadvertently added so much crap stemming from the decision that Steve Trevor is a bad speller and even worse typist. Predictions are turning to garbage.
False-Brandon wants to be Steve Trevor's Facebook friend. I didn't set up a Facebook for Steve Trevor (this was never supposed to go this far), so, uh...

"i dont do facebook thats how the liberal media misinfornation complex gets you!"

Yeah, that should do.
Sage advice.
Impossibly-Brandon says he’ll be here tomorrow around 5:00 to deliver my two million dollars and my Mercedes! Eeeeee!!

He also has not yet received the Galaxy S8 I didn’t mail him. But he hopes it will arrive by tomorrow. It won’t.
I would gladly write not-Brandon a check for $2200 and give him my Galaxy S8.

Though he’s still not asked for my address. I know it was on Steve Trevor’s license, but he’s always asked for tracking and reference numbers separately from receipt photos.

I appreciate the concern from all of you, but literally the only accurate information that not-Brandon has on me is my Google Voice number.

Everything else I’ve fed him is false — even the sound of my voice (ask any of the Mobile Nations crew at CES).

Hey, not-Brandon, you okay man?
Prediction: I previously told not-Brandon that tomorrow is Steve Trevor’s normal work pay day, which will help with the current “$32.17 in the bank” situation.

I expect he’ll need me to make a last-minute funds transfer for some reason. Stuck at the Ohio border, perhaps?
oh no my shipment hasn’t arrived and the tracking number isn’t working let me check with my friend at the post office…
As expected, not-Brandon needs more money from me. He was too generous in covering my $1500 processing fee — his wife says there’s only $5 in their account!

Alas, my pay doesn’t deposit until the end of the day.

But I’ll gladly pay him out of the $2 million he’s bringing today
Not-Brandon is at the Michigan border, will be here by 5.

Michigan is 3 hours from Washington Court House.

But… he might not be here by 5. If not I’ll need to go to the bank and send $500 to his wife since he won’t be home for 5 days.

My money is instant. His money is slow.
Okay, with the post office back in operation following the government shutdown (USPS was unaffected), I need a new tracking number. So… let’s send something to not-Brandon.

This is a Galaxy S8 box.
And this nail-ridden chunk of dirty scrap 2x4 left over from concrete framing five years ago is just the right size to fit in the GS8 box sleeve.
Oh, hey, I’ve got a USPS flat rate box and packing materials right here. What a coincidence and what a nice fit!
Get some postage from USPS, change the return address, and hand it off to my friendly neighborhood mail carrier.

Off goes not-Brandon’s Galaxy S8! He’ll be so excited.
If you want to follow along, here is the real tracking number:…
And yes, sending not-Brandon a chunk of dirty 2x4 will bring a swift end to this charade. Delivery is scheduled for Thursday.

My hope is that the shipping center it’s addressed to will just take the name+number and ship it to the next destination (reseller?) without opening.
I’ve already dragged this out for three weeks — I never thought I’d be able to string not-Brandon along for this long!

I’m still amused by this, but it needs to end at some point. My excuse when this treachery is revealed will be simple: I’m not Steve.

Inconceivably-Brandon just called to check if I’d been paid yet. After I told him Steve Trevor gets paid around 5 at the close of business. At least check the time zone clocks, man.

Not-Brandon, I’m not sure you’re cut out for this line of work.
New instructions! After I get paid I’m to tell not-Brandon and he’ll send me the info to transfer the money to his wife.

Also, my prize delivery has been pushed back to 7 or 8 pm. It takes a very, very long time to drive the 200 miles from Michigan to Washington Court House. :(
It’s been one hour since I told not-Brandon that Steve Trevor’s paycheck was deposited. I’ve yet to receive instructions on where to send the Western Union money order.

I am standing by with the appropriate form and receipt, however.
Couldn’t-be-Brandon must be driving. The only way to safely text and drive is to not text and drive. It can wait.

Besides, he’ll be here (where he thinks here is) in 90-120 minutes. I’ll just get my checkbook ready instead.
Finally got a call from not-Brandon.

1) He’s just now at the Ohio border.
2) They’re preparing their paperwork for the border crossing. The Ohio-Michigan rivalry is fierce, but not border checkpoint fierce.
3) But he’ll be here in 2 hours!
4) I’m now not on my way Western Union.
It’s a side hustle for a little extra latinum in her account.

Brandon wanted to stay on the phone with me while I drove to the Western Union.

Since I’m not going to the Western Union, I told him I’d call when I got there. It’s not safe to drive and talk on the phone.

*cues up crowd noise video for ambiance *
Alright, just sent not-Brandon a fake receipt for a Western Union money order to Jamaica.

Today I learned that there are no postal codes in the West Indies.
Quick, Twitter, I’m suspect I’m going to need an explanation for why this supposed-to-be-instant money transfer to Jamaica hasn’t gone through.

I’ll make a bit of time, because I’m on my way home and will have to double back to Western Union for an explanation.
Thinking maybe a two-day holding period on international money orders thanks to a new FDIC regulation aimed at combatting scams.

Of course, there’s no new regulation, the FDIC doesn’t regulate money orders, and there is no money order.

And not-Brandon’s totally not a scammer.
Ooooh, I like this one. Easy to fake too — just go stand by the street and let the wind and passing cars sell it.

Oh man, absolutely-not-Brandon still has “a lot of paper works to do OK”.

I don’t think he’s going to make it on time tonight. This is distressing.
Conclusively-not-Brandon called to inform me that while they filled out all the paperwork, the IRS is not letting them cross into Ohio with this large of an amount of money. They have to get a government approval stamp, which I’m sure I’ll have to provide funding for them.
I was having trouble not laughing as he explained this to me. I passed it off as stress about this whole thing and how I just want it to be over — and so does he.

How will Steve Trevor be asked to part with money tomorrow? Stay tuned, I guess.
Honestly, I thought it was going to end tonight. Now not-Brandon won’t be calling until tomorrow to update me on bring a “government approval stamp” from the IRS. I told him to be firm with those assholes — he has rights!
Brandon finally asked for Steve Trevor’s address after being on his way for more than two weeks. Gave him the one that was on the license and multiple forms I’ve sent him.

It’s a road that doesn’t exist.
Turning off photo geotagging is always part of my phone setup process.

The IRS has informed not-Brandon that the “government approval stamp” he needs to cross the Michigan-Ohio border with my two million dollars and Mercedes is a $1000 fee. But “they” are “running on empty”, so he’s going to need some time to figure out how to get that much money.
I’m certain that Steve Trevor is going to be told he needs to send money an address nowhere near the border to cover this fee in some way.

Sadly for not-Brandon, between a late mortgage payment, the $350 to his wife, and Julie’s basketball gloves I don’t have that kind of money.
Not-Brandon: “So you’re not going to work today, right?”

Steve: “What? No, I’m going in as soon as I hang up. I already took off two days for this, my boss will kill me if I miss any more. I can’t afford to lose this job!”

Not-Brandon: “Okay, Mr. Trevor, you go to work now.”

Not-Brandon called: I’m to find the old $500 money order I that was supposed to be a money transfer.

Well, I just realized that Steve sent that in for a MoneyGram refund and it’ll probably be another two weeks before it’s done processing.

He’s gonna be so disappointed.
As expected, not-Brandon was distressed that I sent the money order in for a refund.

After covering all of Steve Trevor’s costs, there’s about $150 to work with until my prize arrives or the next paycheck in two more weeks.

I’m sending a $100 money order today after work. Ugh.
I asked: apparently the IRS has confiscated my two million dollars and my Mercedes until we’re able to secure a government approval stamp! Oh the humanity.

Text from not-Brandon: “My wife said she’s not getting the money”

I’ll check with Western Union after work, but I suspect this might be the problem. IRS is getting up in my business, too!

No comment.

Go wood block, go!
Definitely-not-Brandon told me to go to the Western Union to find out why my latest money order hasn’t gone through.

I called him back and explained, stammering and on the verge of tears, that the IRS had placed a hold on my accounts due to suspicious transfers.
Not-Brandon instructed me to go back in and get a refund.

He called 5 minutes later and I, in my distress, explained that the only way for a Western Union refund was so submit this a request form via mail and wait for the up-to-30-day processing time.

(that part is true)
I’m now not-driving to my not-bank to withdraw Steve Trevor’s remaining $150 for a MoneyGram transfer.

Not-Brandon attempted a pep talk “no more negative from you Mr. Steve” as I spiraled about withdrawing everything I have left for this.

There’ll be an IRS hold on withdrawals.
Oh no, Steve Trevor’s sobbing as he explains how the IRS froze his account and now he can’t pay for food or gas or basketball gloves!

Not-Brandon tells me to man up, get in my car, and drive to the nearest bank. I told him it’s First Fayette National Bank (doesn’t exist).
I’m to open “a ATM card account” with the $10 in my wallet, and then I will send not-Brandon the card which he will use to discretely deposit my winnings over time.

I’m also to change my landscaping job’s direct deposit to this account, just so it’s all in one place.
Right now it’s every day, but I really want to see how the block of wood plays out.

There we go, as genuine of a First Fayette National Bank ATM Debit card as you’ll ever find.

It’s not my proudest fakery, but it’ll do.
It only takes a handful, alas.

First Fayette National Bank is on the leading edge of financial and technological innovation in the Southwestern Central Ohio Region.

Not-Brandon says to take the card to the post office and give him the tracking number.

Problem #1: Post office is closed

#2: Steve Trevor has $10 left and can’t get a tracking number with that and still feed his daughter.

He’s getting a different address for first class mail.
Questionably-Brandon was very unhappy when I told him I wouldn’t be able to get him a tracking number, but I assured him that first class postage is the next best thing.

My good friend Diana Prince said so and she’s never not told me the truth.
Honestly, I wouldn’t know. I’ve IRL banked remotely with USAA for 15 years.

Probably-not-Brandon asked for the password (“u mean pin number?”), routing number, and billing address zip code.

PIN is 1701, naturally.
I’ll let it die when not-Brandon lets it die!

It is more than a little depressing to see how much of a plan they have to take advantage of people. Educate your more-susceptible friends and family about what they should look out for.

Not-Brandon says he’s trying to put some money on my card so I can afford to do the overnight delivery. He’s so generous.
Apparently I am to tape Steve Trevor’s ATM card to the inside of a t-shirt, fold it up neatly, and then ship that to not-Brandon.

“You have to do it like this because the post office likes to go through your private mail. OK buddy?”

Oh, he’s got Steve’s paranoid number!
Wait, no, nevermind. Confirmed to not-Brandon for the fourth time that first class mail doesn’t do tracking or receipts. Even though he’s going to send me money.

Apparently this is confusing for him. 🙄

Regardless, I have a worn-out old undershirt here with his name on it.
Doubt not-Brandon is going to pick up on this. They just… won’t work. Stupid irrational numbers.

Account: 314159265359
Routing: 271828182
Awwww, man. Not-Brandon says he’s gonna send me $300! Now I wish it was a real account. :(
Clearly-not-Brandon checked if I had set up an online log in to check on my account to verify the deposit.

I told him Steve Trevor doesn’t do internet banking because it’s not safe with all the hackers out there. But I do have mobile alerts set up.
Not-Brandon called this morning, asked if I had the MoneyGram money orders.

No, again, Steve sent for a refund last week. Won’t get it back for two more weeks.

Asked me if Mr. Foster (the manager from DAY TWO) had called. He has not. Apparently he was supposed to. Still hasn’t.
Meanwhile, the block-of-wood-as-a-GS8 is due to be delivered today.

Last USPS tracking update has it “in-transit” to Miami as of 12:23 pm.

I am eagerly anticipating whatever happens next.
Should’ve wrapped it in a t-shirt. Stupid Steve Trevor, you know better!

If not-Brandon discovers my deception tonight, I hope to discuss all this with him.

There are the obvious Qs:

Who are you, really?
Where are you?
Why do you do this?
Did you realize I was screwing with you?
How often does this actually work?

But what do *you* want to know?
USPS has not delivered my chuck of 2x4 to not-Brandon yet and I am sad.

But he finally called back (Mr. Foster never did). No address for my card, but he did make sure I’d switched my paycheck to the new account at First Fayette National Bank. Did it first thing this mornin’.
Asked when I’d next get paid, I had to consult the calendar. Got ‘paid’ on Tuesday, which means next paycheck isn’t until, uh, uhhhh… February 6th.

I’ve got $10 to make it until then. It’ll be tight for Steve Trevor and his daughter Julie, but we’ll get by. We always do.
Then not-Brandon has an “idea”. Remember: heavy Indian accent.

“Is there a pawn shop nearby?”

Me, aghast: “A *what* shop?”

“A pawn shop. Is there one near you.”

“I don’t go to them porn stores. They’re the devil’s work.”

“No, a pawn shop.”


“Pawn. Pawn. PAWN.”
“You mean them stores with the nekkid lady magazines? No way, not goin’ there.”

“No, Mr. Trevor, listen to me. A PAWN shop. Where you can take things and sell them for money.”

“Ohhhh, a pawn shop. Yeah, there’s one downtown.”

“Do you have anything you could sell there?”
“I… I don’t think I… well, there’s the necklace.”

“Can you take it to the pawn shop tomorrow morning first thing?”

“Well, it’s a family heirloom. Passed down from my grandmother.”

“How much do you think you could sell it for at the pawn shop?”

Oh, you’re cold, not-Brandon.
Okay, laying it on thick.

“I was gonna give it to Julie when she’s older. I shouldn’t pawn it. It’s been in my family for—”

“You know I’ll do anything in the world to get you your winnings, right?”

“I do.”

“I need you to do this so that can happen.”

You cold fucking bastard.
So that’s the next step after handing over access to the account in which my paycheck is deposited: pawning my valuables and sending them the money.

I started this whole escapade amused, transitioned to frustrated, and now I’m utterly disgusted. Have you no decency at all?
This was the first time I had trouble staying in character.

There are some awful people in this world and they will get you to bleed yourself dry for nonexistent fortune.

Keep tabs on your easily duped friends and family. These bastards will destroy them if they get the chance.
Now that I have a window into how far they can take this (and therefore have and will take it), it’s getting more emotionally draining than anything.

This is no longer fun.

I want to nail these bastards. I know there’s no way I can. But I’ll try.

You’ve got to be kidding me.

Post-dated for Sunday. Man, I can’t cash this until next week, not-Brandon!

Not sure if he’s reverse trolling me or if people actually fall for this. I’ve seen what people fall for on Facebook, so I suspect (and fear) the latter.
I mean, if this is what passes for “that’s convincing enough” for not-Brandon, then I’ve clearly been putting way too much effort into my fakery.
Found the template for that cheque in under a minute on Google Image Search.…
The current time is 11:52 AM.

This delay notice was posted today at 12:23 PM.

Somehow, USPS is posting from the f u t u r e . . .

Texted not-Brandon that the pawn shop had given me $350 for the necklace.

He called, wanted me to send all of it, then generously offered to let me keep $50 for next week’s expenses. Gave me a recipient for the MoneyGram I was to send when I got off work.

The receipt I sent. 😏
Almost-certainly-not-Brandon’s team moved fast on this one. Already texted, and then immediately called, to tell me that the transaction was not available.

Apparently he didn’t notice the line *just* above my thumb.
Texted not-Brandon about the hold, relayed that the transfer should be there by Sunday, said I was leaving for Julie’s basketball tournament.

And then I went dark.

He’s texted three times and called seven times in the past two hours. I just need a break, man.
YES! Not-Brandon’s #blockofwood delivery is set for today!

Theory: USPS knows that packages going to this address might be involved in fraud, so they give them a little extra scrutiny.
And now the waiting begins. Not-Brandon’s #blockofwood #notaphone has been delivered!

Question is if they open it, or if packages addressed and numbered as I was instructed just get relabeled and shipped to the next destination?
not-Brandon has called TEN TIMES today. I’ve not answered.

IRL reasons: I was not in a position to record because I was either A) out of the office, B) napping, or C) I just wanted to make him sweat.

Steve Trevor reason: picked up an extra shift to earn some extra cash.
#blockofwood is currently in a Schrodinger State, at least for me. I’ll answer a call eventually tonight.

We’re doing this on my terms now. I mean, we kind of have been the whole time, not-Brandon just didn’t know it.

Not-Brandon was understandably not pleased. I could’ve played off the USPS delay in Miami as “what, those post office jerks opening my mail”, but (1) that’d be a hard sell and (2) I just wanted to to be over.

Not-Brandon now knows I am not Steve Trevor.
I informed not-Brandon that literally everything I told him or sent him was fake.

Asked who he was, he swore his name was Brandon Loop from Ranchester, WY (no records of such a person; I doubt he lives in Wyoming). He claimed he was with Powerball — first time he’s said that.
Told not-Brandon that I knew all of it was a fake. He insisted on asking if I was declining my winnings.

I did not decline, repeated that I knew it was all fake and a scam, that this isn’t how Powerball works, that I knew it was a scam from the start.

He kept persisting.
“Look, man, I know this is all a scam and you’re not going to convince me that it isn’t.”

He countered that he knew I was faking him. Asked when he began to suspect.

It was when I told him the IRS has froze my accounts. That was a full three weeks in.

Asked him if people actually fell for this and he claimed that nobody had and if I’d gone through with it then he would’ve sent all my money back.

Then what was the point? Couldn’t get a straight answer.
He wanted to know how I made all of my fake receipts and cards and everything?

“I’m good with Photoshop. A lot better than you.”
Why does not-Brandon do this?

He can’t find any work. He needs to take care of his family. So… he tries to make money by scamming people. “You gotta do what you gotta do.”
Before he became a scammer, he worked in a grocery store.

Do you feel bad about this? not-Brandon: “I haven’t got any money from anybody yet.”

Derek: You need to find a different line of work.
He wanted to know how I faked all this.

“Photoshop. It might be a bit beyond your skill set.”

And no, not-Brandon, you can’t get it from the Google Play Store. You should just not try.
What was the next step after getting me to transfer my paycheck into an account that you had me give you all the information to access?

not-Brandon says he doesn’t know. He’s making this up he goes. I don’t believe him.
He says he knows I’m recording this. This is true.

But how does he know I’m recording this? He sees it.

How? Don’t worry about it.

Okay, man.
He says he knows where I am.

I ask him to tell him where I am.

He says my return address was on the shipping label.

I reminded him that everything I sent him was fake.

The line went silent.

30 seconds later he hung up on me.
I sent not-Brandon a text, letting him know if he wants to talk, honestly and for real, he’s got my number.

I just got the most amazing call from Mr. Foster (the manager from the beginning).

He was confused — I had sent a bunch of receipts and documents that seemed legit.

I faked them all.


I have skills.

He asked if I had been scammed before.
I told Foster that no, I typically work with honest and forthright people that don’t try to scam me out of my money.

He then said he was going to offer me a job.


Holy shit.

I can’t even.

I thought this was over. That it couldn’t get any more absurd.

I was wrong.
Okay, Brandon called to give me a test. I’m to fake a check for them to prove my skills.

Also, my cut would apparently be 25%, but I feel like he just made that up on the spot.

He gave me a name to use, but I’ll use a different one.
Yep. I’m giving them nothing usable, but I’ll definitely have something that I think would be actionable to take to the FBI tomorrow. Whee!

On reconsideration, I’m going to tell not-Brandon that I’m going to need the night to think this over.

Not going to get in league with scammers, even probing by pretending to be interested, until I have legal backup.
Not-Brandon called after my “I need time” text to probe how I made all the fakes (I’m not spilling my secrets until we’re in business) and to pitch the job

- He’s made $2.7 billion (ha!)
- But he’ll quit at $3B (uh huh)
- I get 25%
- All money will pass through me (sure it will)
Tonight I Learned: investigations of telephone scams like this are not handled by the FBI; they’re the FTC’s jurisdiction.

The FBI is open 24/7. The @FTC goes home on the weekends. They aren’t even set up to record messages when there’s nobody there to answer. Convenient.
Swung by the Cincinnati FBI office, just in case they’d be more interested in person in the whole “trying to recruit me to be a part of their criminal organization” part of my story than the agent assigned to answer the phone hotline.

Nobody works on the weekend.
This has taken on a life of its own. I am no longer in control.

Okay, @FTC is open on Mondays. Called and handed over all the information they would take (alas, no account numbers) aaaaand that’s it.

I guess I’ll text not-Brandon that I’m not going to take him up on his offer.
It means that I’m just another statistic. I told the @FTC agent I’d gladly give detailed testimony and gave them all my contact info, but I feel like my report is just another few data points.

Will try a few other agencies to see if they’re interested.

Not-Brandon called! Even though I sent him a text that I didn’t want to do this.

He wanted to know where my example check was.

I repeated that I didn’t want to do this.

He insisted that it wouldn’t be a burden.

I insisted I wasn’t going to. No hard feelings, man.
Not-Brandon told me to open a Xoom account and send him my login info for our business transactions.

I said we’re not going into business. I’ve thought long and hard about it, but it’s not going to happen.

He said I should open the Xoom account.

Points for persistence!
I was having trouble not laughing at this point. No, not-Brandon, I’m not going to make fake checks for you.

He switched to threatening me. He knows who I am, he knows where I live.

“Tell me,” I said.

“You are Derek, you live in Ohio in Washington Court House.”

* head desk *
Not-Brandon: “We have people everywhere. We have Scott Rainer, we purchased him a shotgun, if you don’t work with us we will send him after you to kill you and your family.”

I laughed out loud. “I don’t live in Washington Court House, you moron.”
Not-Brandon insisted he has my address, it was on my #blockofwood shipment.

I rolled my eyes and laughed, “I told you, that’s not my address. I don’t live in Washington Court House. That return address doesn’t fucking exist.”

Brief swearing in Hindi.

not-Brandon hangs up.
My voicemail: “Hi, you’ve reached Derek’s phone. I can’t answer right now, but leave a message and I’ll get back to you. Thanks, bye!”

He would’ve heard it several times on the Day 2 when I didn’t answer because Steve was at work. Never questioned it. 🙄

Law enforcement update: after telling them the abridged story of not-Brandon's scam and threats (🙄):

@FBI: contact local PD.
@CincyPD: contact Ohio Attorney General.
@OhioAG: takes names, addresses, phones, accounts; asks if I want to sign up for their newsletter.

Tell me about it. I was at least hoping to recount my story in detail to somebody in law enforcement, imagining the knee-slapping laughter down at the station, but nope, just a sad and quiet ending.

I’ll make sure the movie ends better.

Post-credits bonus scene #2: not-Brandon called this morning!

He reminded me that they "have gangsters in all cities and all states" and that if anybody "ever troubled me he would have them killed".

To prove it he told me to give him a name and location of someone to kill.
I told not-Brandon there wasn't anybody I wanted dead.

How about getting beaten up?

I don't really have any enemies.

How about "anyone you wanted to do something to a long time ago."

"I try not to carry grudges."

"I'm just trying to protect you and your family, okay buddy?"
And then not-Brandon asked… I can't believe this… if I had anybody I had any "clients" I could send him: "a friend or so — to scam!"

I laughed. Loud. And hard. "I'm afraid I'm not going to be able to give you any referrals."

He hung up.
I don't understand why not-Brandon still bothers. It should be clear by now that he's unlikely to trick me into revealing my full identity, that I do not believe any of his threats, and that I'm not going to be part of his stupid scheme.

But I'll give him points for persistence.

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More from @derekakessler

Mar 19, 2018
Stop saying “Facebook data breach” or leak. There was no breach. No leak.

The user data in question was collected legally in accordance with Facebook policies and user settings. That the database was transferred to Cambridge Analytica was a mere developer agreement violation.
Facebook policies allow apps to collect massive amounts of data from your profile. Ostensibly that info is supposed to be used for providing you with a customized service… in reality that service usually ends up being tailored advertisements.
These apps don't just hoover up your data without your looking. After all, you have to to download the app and you have to give the app permission to access your profile. It tells you up front what data it wants access to, and you have to agree.
Read 16 tweets

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