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back to article Crooks sell skint fanbois potatoes instead of iPhones

Greater Manchester police are appealing for help after a number of people who thought they were laying hands on a shiny new iPhone ended up with a sack of spuds instead. The conmen approached people in car-parks and on the street to ask them if they fancied buying laptops or iPhones, but actually gave them some totally random …

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Oldest. One. In. The. Book.

The people who perpatrate this crime are utter wankers, and their victims are stupid, greedy idiots.

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JDX
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But why potatoes for goodness sake?

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To give it a good weight I assume.

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The 'victims' are hardly innocent in this. They are trying to buy an ipad/iphone from some random guy who approaches them in a car park. At the very least they must think they are buying stolen goods.

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Yup

Good weight and the hapless fools can console themselves with chips. Or a nice soup.

Mmmmm soup!

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Joke

Because they're cheap as chips? Sorry.

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JDX
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Yeah but there are heavy cheap items which aren't so obviously nothing like the shape of a laptop. Like a lump of wood.

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Indeed...

So old there is even a common English saying which evolved from the practise.

"Letting the cat out of the bag" comes from people selling a cat in a sack and claiming it to be a pig. "Letting the cat out of the bag" came to mean "revealing a secret or deception".

I'm not sure if I should be angry at the conmen for the con, or admire their adherence to tradition. Whichever it is I have little sympathy for the victims. They're either very very gullible, or willing to buy what must flag up a few "stolen goods" alarms in their head.

Another English saying comes to mind - A fool and their money are easily parted.

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Coat

Re: Indeed...

I bought a bag of potatoes but ended up with a bloody iPhone grrrr

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Re: Indeed...

That's one explanation of the saying. The other is that it's nautical. The cat in question is the cat o' nine tails. Thus an action that lets it out of the bag is one that is going to lead to Big Trouble.

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Re: Indeed...

Similarly buying a pig in a poke was buyinga pig in a bag without looking at the pig

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Coat

Re: Indeed...

"I bought a bag of potatoes but ended up with a bloody iPhone grrrr"

Well they are both filled with chips and have rounded corners

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Anonymous Coward

Obviously the work of the Irish Mob.

Who else?

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@M. Poolman

The problem with the nautical explanation is that it simply doesn't fit with the underlying meaning of the phrase ie to reveal a secret.

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Re: @M. Poolman

The phrase usually implies dire consequences from revealing the secret. e.g. Accidently allowing the wielder of authority (and the cat) to discover some breach of the Kings Regulations deserving of summary punnishment is to let the cat out of the bag.

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Anonymous Coward

plonker

But someone always falls for it. Bet he thought they were stolen. Serves him right.

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Holmes

Re: @M. Poolman

Sorry, but no. Nothing nautical about letting the cat out of the bag. You sir are labouring under a misconception.

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Re: @M. Poolman

To quote from http://www.wordorigins.org/index.php/site/let_the_cat_out_of_the_bag/

"It’s commonly asserted that let the cat out of the bag refers to the cat o’ nine-tails used on board ships as form of punishment. The whip would be kept in a special bag to protect it from the sea air and to let the cat out of the bag was to confess a crime worthy of flogging. A neat tale, except there is absolutely no evidence to connect the phrase with a nautical origin. "

AIUI there wasn't actually a "special cat" that was kept in a bag, rather someone who was due to be flogged would be given a short length of rope and they had to unravel it and actually make the device for their own punishment.

Naval ropes were made from three smaller ropes twisted together, each of which were made, in turn, from three thinner ropes, hence why the Navy Cat had nine tails.

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Because you can make chips out of them?

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Stop

Re: @M. Poolman

Sounds like another load of horse hockey from CANOE (Committee to Assign a Nautical Origin to Everything).

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Re: Indeed...

the not-so-oft-used phrase "buying a pig in a poke" derives from the same situation, where a poke is old English for a small bag (where we get the modern 'pocket').

To buy a pig in a poke means you have no idea of what you are getting.

If its too good to be true - its either not so good or its not true.

There endeth the lesson - I'll get my coat.

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Trollface

As it's always been

This con probably started in a cave somewhere.

Ogg: Want buy some mammoth meat?

Zlg: Oooooh....

[later]

Zlg: Awww &%#$, not rocks again!

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Why is it an offence to separate a fool and his money? Anyone who hands over £1400 in cash to a bloke on a garage forecourt who offers him a couple of cheap laptops doesn't even deserve a potato. They should have all their assets seized and made to starve to death so their genes are removed from the gene pool.

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Because ultimately the scams become increasingly institutionalised and appear more and more legitimate as time goes on... think insurance, pensions etc.

But in these instances, it does seem to be a case of buyer beware.

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Facepalm

But how can anyone NOT living in a cave still fall victim to this well-publicized scam? Zero sympathy for these people. Just means these bottom-feeding victims will have less money to spend on lottery tickets.

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Mushroom

"Why is it an offence to separate a fool and his money?"

Yeah - and while we're at it, why is it a crime to steal a car if it's left unlocked, or to burgle someone's house if they leave a window open when they go on holiday?

Scammers and thieves don't stop being criminals just because the mark is a fool.

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WTF?

Why would anyone think £1400 is a great deal for 2 laptops sold by someone on a garage forecourt? If they didn't even see what model laptops they were then it's even more stupid as they could have been some real cheap laptops that you can get brand new in legit stores for under £400 each. It's very hard to sympathise with victims with few brain cells than the fingers on their hands.

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And another point

what cash machine allowed a £1400 withdrawal? Unless he used multiple cards, which must cut the estimate of his brain cells to the fingers on one hand.

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Anonymous Coward

I see a legal version of this scam.

Buy 2 functional laptops off ebay for around £50 (who cares if they're 200mhz pentium II's).

Sell to idiot for £1400.

Profit.

If you find a company you could even set yourself up as one of those 'safe disposal' things and get paid to receive the shitty laptops in the first place.

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Re: "Why is it an offence to separate a fool and his money?"

"Yeah - and while we're at it, why is it a crime to steal a car if it's left unlocked"

well no one seems to think its an offence to use someones unencrypted wifi

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Gav
Holmes

dishonest fools

Because being a fool isn't illegal and some people are of low intelligence and have a right to the protection of the law like anyone else.

However, in this case these people are most likely not just fools, but dishonest fools. Unless they are of markedly low intelligence, they must have expected that the offered goods were dodgy. If so, they deserved everything they got.

Either that or the sellers are accomplished confidence tricksters who manage to get otherwise sensible and law-abiding people to make stupid snap decisions.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Why is it an offence to separate a fool and his money?"

Nope, fuck 'em. Anyone that hands over hundreds of pounds without even looking in the bag first deserves everything they get.

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Re: "Why is it an offence to separate a fool and his money?"

that's the best way to scrape usernames and passwords. I'm fine with people using my unsecured wifi as long as they don't mind me using their unsecured login credentials.

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Re: "Why is it an offence to separate a fool and his money?"

Insurers call that contributory negligence and refuse to pay out.

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Linux

Re: "Why is it an offence to separate a fool and his money?"

If it really is an offence, where do Apple and Microsoft stand?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I see a legal version of this scam.

Go one step further - have a top-end machine elsewhere in the car, wirelessly serving up the desktop by VNC so it appears to be running really quickly.

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Anonymous Coward

Were they french?

Apple = Pomme

Potato = Pomme de terre

There's a joke in there somewhere but I can't be arsed thinking of it.

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Re: Were they french?

you beat me to it, B^$%*£^!

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As the old adage goes.....

....you can't con an honest man.

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Re: As the old adage goes.....

To quote Terry Pratchett:

"If you did fool an honest man, he tended to complain to the Watch..... Fooling dishonest men was a lot safer and, somehow, more sporting. And, of course, there were so many more of them. You hardly had to aim."

Words to live by, I feel.

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Re: As the old adage goes.....

"....you can't con an honest man."

Tell that to poor old grandpa who had his savings taken by some conmen who convinced him he needed a lot of work on his roof or it would collapse.

Being gullible doesn't make you dishonest.

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Anonymous Coward

Victims? Really?

So, given the circumstances - ridiculously low price, approached in forecourts, etc - these punters know there's a 99.999% chance these would be stolen laptops or phones and still go for it?

I'd say the police should fine them for attempting to purchase stolen goods, not help them or call them victims.

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Re: Victims? Really?

Absolutely, I think Political Correctness has had it's day.

"anyone who may have fallen victim"

||

"anyone who was stupid enough to deal with two Eastern European men on a garage forecourt with obviously stolen goods"

Can someone also convince me that it is possible to withdraw £1400 from a cash machine? The most I can get is £500 (I suppose he could have used multiple cards)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Victims? Really?

Since when is £1400 for two stolen laptops a "ridiculously low price"?

You can but two pretty reasonably laptops from a shop for that.

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Paris Hilton

Re: Victims? Really?

Ridiculously low price it was! They were hexacore i9 processors @ 8GHz with 64Gig of RAM and 16Tbytes SSD! And mainly the weight seemed alright.

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Joke

Re: Victims? Really?

quad SLI nVidia 680's also ?? Hang on, let me grab some cash out!!!

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Re: Victims? Really?

Naa, he was probably just told they were entry level MacBooks.

"Only £1400? And you don't want my left testicle and firstborn son too? FUCKING BARGAIN!"

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Linux

"but actually gave them some totally random other thing in a bag" -- Quite a common item to find actually, potatoes are used [in this scam] due to their weight and cost. I also remember seeing potatoes used in The Real Hustle's Christmas gift wrapping scam.

"Why is it an offence to separate a fool and his money?" -- Fraud / Obtaining Funds by Deception. You choose.

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Do these people

not watch "The Real Hustle"

I suppose its a socially acceptable con as the victims must be rolling in dosh to manage to instantly get £1400 in cash.

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