Legal advice needed, civil or small claims advice.

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by synth3tik, Nov 18, 2008.

  1. synth3tik macrumors 68040


    Oct 11, 2006
    Minneapolis, MN
    Last week I purchased a new early 08 MBP off ebay. The seller did not want to do a paypal transaction since they now might hold the funds in the account. This guy seemed like he really needed the money and wanted to do a bank transfer that night. It was 8pm so that would not be happening.

    The next day I went out (in freezing rain or falling ice, which ever you want to call it) and got a cashers check from my bank (I really did not want to do a bank transfer). I then made my way to the post office to over night the money per his request, only to find out that it was Veterns day and the post was closed. I then went to Fed Ex where I spent $35 to overnight him the money.

    I checked the next day to see if he got it and he did. I asked about the computer and was told it would ship 3 days later. This kind of ticked me off after going out in bad bad weather to overnight him money only to have to wait. I made no mention of this to him.

    That was only last week but 5 days have gone by with no word from him and no responce to my emails. I am still hoping that he simply got busy and could not reply, but I have come to the conclusion that I have been dupped.

    What I have.

    I have the carbon copy of the cashers check from my bank.
    I now feel better about shipping Fed Ex as I requested a direct signure. I also tracked it myself to see he got it.
    Conformation that he signed for the package.
    I have his name and address as well as email.
    I also went and took screen shots of the ebay page as well as the Fed Ex page.
    I also have all emails between us.

    My questions.
    1. Even though it has only been a week should I see about putting a hold on the cashers check, if it has not been cashed?
    2. If it goes to small claims will I have to file where I live (MN) or where he lives (PA)?
    3. If I have to file in PA can I do it via mail (electronic or snail)?
    4. If filed in PA would I be able to include travel expenses if the soul purpose of the travel was to deal with litigation?
    5. I would have to get a sheriff or other office to serve the papers, what would this cost and how would one go about it from another state?

    My thoughts.
    The auction ended only a week ago and ebay will not let me file a claim for another 3 weeks.
    The transaction was not done through paypal so any of the buyer protection stuff is out.
    I had to take a couple people to court before, so I understand locally what happens. (I knew where the people worked and had friends serve them their papers)
    I have only had 1 problem that resulted in me losing money on ebay before this and that was in 1999 I think.

    I feel really stupid and angry at the same time. I never (with this exception) pay for anything off ebay with anything but paypal. I walking in freezing rain and spent $35 to give him my money. I am currently unemployed and am living off my severance pay until my unemployment insurance is verified (I was told 4-6 weeks). In my unemployed state I did what I feel as clever bugeting that would replace a bunch of old stuff with some new stuff (This laptop would have been paid for by the sale of my current one along with a few other things. My plan was going good until this happened.

    Any advice that could be given would be wonderful. I believe I have all the evidence that I would need. Now I just need to figure out how to go about it, or if it is even worth doing anything more then filing a claim with ebay(which would not get me my money, but at least lock out his account.

    btw his ebay account is still active, just not selling items currently.
  2. ChePibe macrumors member

    Jan 27, 2005
    NOT legal advice

    Statements below are NOT legal advice. I am not an attorney, nor does any implied or explicit attorney client relationship exist between the original poster and myself

    First impressions:
    This sounds like a possible scammer. What you are looking at here could be a criminal, not civil, matter.

    At this juncture, it may be best for you to contact the police of the city this individual lives in and tell them that you believe you have been defrauded by this person. Ask them for advice and to see if they can help with any action.

    In any case, if it's not a criminal issue and this guy is dragging his feet, the police showing up at his door will likely light a fire underneath him.

    Answers to questions:
    1. Yes. Most definitely. If he seems to have dropped off the face of the earth with your money and is no longer responding to e-mails, do it.
    2. Where he lives. Generally speaking, cases are heard on the defendant's home turf, if you will.
    3. Depends on court rules in PA. Look up their small claims system. My guess, however, is no - it will have to be via snail mail.
    4. Depends on court rules in PA. My gut instinct would be "yes", although small claims judges are loath to increase the cost of litigation beyond the amount in dispute.
    5. The court can help you here, as they generally have connections to process servers. A small claims case I did cost around $50 for personal service. PA may allow service by mail or other means, though. Again, check with the court.

    Remember that civil courts operate under a "more likely than not" standard rather than a "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard. The correspondence, receipts, and delivery confirmation more than likely meet the civil standard to prevail in your case.

    Best of luck.

    Once again, I am not an attorney. None of these statements should be considered legal advice and no attorney-client relationship exists between the original poster and myself. The only legal advice I would give would be to consult a qualified attorney who is a member of the bar in good standing in your state and/or the state of the defendant.
  3. synth3tik thread starter macrumors 68040


    Oct 11, 2006
    Minneapolis, MN
    Thanks for the feedback.

    From what I have seen at least in Minneapolis is that the police view swindle via private trading as a civil matter. It would be nice to get the police knocking on his door though:)

    His ebay feedback is not as high as the people I usually deal with, but it is not bad. A feedback rating of 14 @ 100%. 4 left from buyers. He account was opened back in March so relatively new. All his other sales were for Apple products, although they were all 32g iPod Touches. He seems to me to be less of a scammer and more like someone who works at an Apple reseller that puts a few things up they get every so often.

    If I would have to go to Philly to take care of this. I would hope I could make a short vacation out of it. I know one person I might be able to stay with in philly and a few in NYC. After all Philly is in the shadow of NYC.

    Thanks again
  4. r1ch4rd macrumors 6502a


    Aug 5, 2005
    Manchester UK
    It's only been 5 days and he said it would take at least 3 to even ship it. I would wait a few more days, maybe just fire him off another email. He could genuinely be busy.

    If it takes too much longer though then you might want to go a bit further with it.
  5. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030


    May 18, 2004
    hopefully he's just being slow about sending the computer!

    before you start spending money to travel to PA, some things to consider;

    1) you have a name but how do you know it's his real name? He may have simply given you a fake name, or it might be a stolen identity, or the name of somebody who's helping in the scam, or a lot of other possibilities. You've never met the scammer so you can't even identify him in person.

    2) You sent the check to an address but you don't really know who or what's at that address. It could be somebody else's house, or a business office, or a store, or who knows?

    3) You can show that somebody signed for a FedEx delivery, but anybody could have signed the name you were given. Then later everybody at that address can say they know nothing about a FedEx letter being delivered and claim they've never even heard of anybody by the name you were given......and if the name was fake, how are you going to prove otherwise?

    If it's a scam, then you have to hope the scammer was lazy and stupid, otherwise you're going to have a hard timing even identifying who scammed you.

    Good luck tho, I hope it's just a matter of the seller being slow shipping it to you

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