Matthew Lindfield Seager

Matthew Lindfield Seager

Scammed 😔

I think I’m pretty savvy when it comes to online scams and phishing but it turns out I’m not so savvy in the real world 😔

A “fencing contractor” came to our door and said he’d been hired by our back neighbour to replace the (very dilapidated) wooden fence. He spent a while talking about site access and where to put the skip bin and whether it was okay to cut back one of our trees on the fenceline to make sure it didn’t impinge on the new fence.

Eventually I brought up the topic of payment and after “consulting with our neighbour” he came back and told me she’d agreed to pay the bulk of it as she was getting her (much longer) side fence done at the same time. Our half of the shared portion was only $500. That seemed like a bargain to me (I’m capable of physical labour but I really don’t enjoy it) so I readily agreed!

He “started working” (pulling some palings off the fence by hand) but said he couldn’t stay long as he had to provide a quote in another suburb. He told me that his colleagues would be back that arvo to complete the demolition. At this point he finally asked for a 50% deposit and I agreed.

I should have been more suspicious when he asked for cash instead of a bank transfer but I just assumed he was a dodgy contractor trying to stay below the tax man’s radar. I almost never pay cash for anything these days so I explained I’d have to go out and withdraw some.

I was actually in the middle of filling in a doorway in our house (again, I’m capable of physical labour, I just don’t enjoy it) so I went back to work and completely forgot about him or the cash. When he came to the door a little later I felt guilty for forgetting him. “Thankfully” I remembered I had some birthay cash stashed away so I fished it out and forked over $200.

That was the last I saw of “Eddy” or my $200. I later found out he scammed a lot more money out of our back neighbour.

With the benefit of hindsight there were lots of things I should have picked up on but he was very brazen, he added some convincing little details to his stories and he was very patient. It didn’t even occur to me at the time that he was anything other than a local lad trying to earn a (mostly) honest buck while also doing a solid for our elderly neighbour.

Despite the loss (and the embarassment!) there’s lots to be grateful for:

  • I didn’t give him as much as he asked for (that felt like a little victory in the moment… “I’ll teach him to ask for cash” 🙃)
  • We don’t live paycheck to paycheck so we can “afford” this small loss (as opposed to our neighbour who is a pensioner and lost much more)
  • He didn’t come back that night and break into our house to steal the rest of our cash (our neighbour had a break in that same night and the last of her money was taken… she suspects it was the same person)
  • It spurred me into action about the fence… I might even have a crack at replacing it myself
  • The kids asked lots of questions and it gave us a chance to discuss what I did right and wrong and some possible life lessons
  • Best of all, it made me have my first proper conversation with our back neighbour which helped grow our relationship

And that’s not even mentioning the fact that, despite living in a “poor area” of Sydney, we are safe, comfortable and own our own home (some of it anyway… we still owe the bank a good chunk 😆). That probably puts us in the top 5 or 10% of the world’s wealthiest people!