Here’s the scam, I read it in a book by Neil Gaimen, so I won’t take credit:
A young man, dressed as a student, goes into a restaurant and eats dinner. When it comes time to pay the bill, he discovers that he doesn’t have his wallet. He explains the situation to the restaurant owner and says
“Here, this is my violin. I am a student of music at the local college. Hold on to my violin as collaterol while I run back to my house and get my wallet.”
At this point, the student leaves. A women, well dressed and older, approaches the restaurant owner. She says:
“I don’t mean to intrude, but may I see that violin?” She then examines the violin, and continues like so:
“I knew it right when I saw it… this is a very special violin! I am an antiques dealer, and I specialize in musical instruments. This is worth well over $20,000!”
Then she looks at her watch and continues “Oh shoot, I have to catch this train. Please please please give my business card to that student when he returns, I need to talk to him about this instrument!”
The dealer then departs, and the student soon returns.
At this point, the restaurant owner may give the student the card and the instrument, and the scam falls apart, but the scammers are out the cost of two meals. Where it gets interesting is if the owner of the restaurant says something like this:
“You know, my daughter was thinking about playing the violin… is there any change you would want to sell this instrument?”
and the student replies “No, not really”
and the owner continues “What if I was to give you $3000 for it?”
and the student replies “Well, I have been playing it for six years now, I really don’t want to get another”
and the owner ups his offer, and finally buys the violin for $10,000.
Of course, it is a $100 violin from a yard sale, and the student and the dealer are in cahoots and split the money.
Is there anything illegal about this, or is it just a story about a fool and his money?