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MacRumors vigilantes nail UK teen scammer

'Max on Macs' took cash, didn't stump goods

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Other MacRumors members quickly came forward to tell their Max on Macs tales of woe, including XIII who simply said: "I have also been scammed over by Max.. long story but I did get my money back. Definitely steer clear."

MacRumors vigilantes then set to work identifying Max on Macs. It didn't take long for them to finger him as Max Tappenden of Milton Keynes, director of a company called "MTSpace IT Solutions Limited".

They also tracked down Tappenden's MySpace page, where he describes himself as a 17-year-old heterosexual with a penchant for "Computers/Internet... Water skiing... Politics, world affairs, business, other such nerdy things =]"

Skoker, meanwhile, got hold of Tappenden's address, home phone and mobile numbers "thanks to a bit of sleuthing by an informant on the forums, who shall remain nameless", and on 23 October issued Tappenden an ultimatum: "Max, just finished talking to the police, and we're giving you 48 hours to respond to me (via PM here or email) before your local police contact you."

Evidently, Tappenden did not reply, since on 25 October skoker asked: "If you've been affected by this, please send me a PM with some of the details, the dollar amount, and stuff like that. The police would like it to forward to the [US] postal inspectors, who will be looking into this much furthor [sic]."

On 29 October, skoker again warned Tappenden with: "Max, if you read this, which I know you have/will, you really need to give up the gig. Just end it now, before you face some serious legal consequences, both with the US and the UK police."

Skoker tried calling Tappenden, without success. His got his mum to call him in November 2006, but "his [Tappendens's] mom realized who we were and why we were calling and freaked out and hung up".

At this point, the thread went quiet until 13 January 2007, when a triumphant skoker declared: "JUSTICE HAS BEEN SERVED! Max has been arrested this morning, 1/13/07, after turning himself in at the Thames Valley Police Station. He has admitted to stealing my money and that of at least two other persons."

Tappenden did indeed voluntarily present himself at Milton Keyne's police station, accompanied by his parents. He was neither arrested nor charged, but received a caution. The officer who spoke to Tappenden told The Register that under the British criminal system, there was nothing the police could do to "force the money out of anyone".

Finally, on 25 February, skoker got this email from Tappenden:

Hi,

I am writing with regards to money I took in late 2006 for computer hardware and parts which were not received by you.

I would like to explain the situation fully. When I first set out to sell my laptop, I was in need of the money to pay my parents back after an investments scam that I had been a victim of, and had the intention of selling my laptop. While this was happening and it seemed I wasn't going to find a buyer, I sold parts instead and eventually lost track of what I was and wasn't selling. I still did not have enough money to pay back my parents, and even after agreeing to sell parts of the laptop I then made arrangements to sell the whole thing as well. It soon became obvious that I had sold things to more than one person, and that my laptop was going to be vital for both my school and non-school work, and that I couldn't sell that. At this point without really considering the consequences, I simply stated that I am in the UK, you aren't, and what can you do about it?

I realised immediately that what I had done was wrong, and if nothing else it was always a moral thing for me that I had to pay the money back as soon as I could. At the moment I am in full-time education and so do not work, and the monies you paid have been used to repay loans. As a result there is simply no money available at present but I hope that before the end of 2007 I will be in a position to make good your losses.

My record of these losses is: $XXX

Please advise if your records differ.

Once again I am sorry for the trouble I have caused you, and am doing my best to repay you as soon as I possibly can.

Max

We emailed Max Tappenden to ask if he has indeed repaid skoker's money, and to invite him to give his version of events. He has not as yet replied. ®

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