Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/03/02/macrumour_thread/

MacRumors vigilantes nail UK teen scammer

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

By Lester Haines

Posted in Hardware, 2nd March 2007 18:00 GMT

A British teenager who tried to scam fellow MacRumors members learned the hard way that when enraged fanboys get up a head of indignant steam, you'd better run for cover.

The story of "Max On Macs" began with this post by member skoker on 23 October 2006, and ended recently with Max on Macs interviewed by Thames Valley police and promising to refund skoker for the $500 he'd taken for "a clamshell iBook, Mac mini, and PowerBook G4", which never materialised.

The full post reads:

If you are thinking about buying or selling with Max On Macs, I urge you to think twice. He'll seem like a nice guy at first, but then he'll real you in and screw you over.

Here's my story

In the end of August/beginning of September, I posted this thread, to which Max contacted me wanting to work out a deal to trade for a busted up PowerBook. I was interested in the deal, but after I was unable to commit the xbox to him, we began to work out a cash deal for me to purchase a clamshell iBook, Mac mini, and PowerBook G4 from him, for an amount of money that I will not disclose. He told me that he was an Apple Authorized Retailer (and seemed to be able to back it up), and that he would offer me the products for a discount as he wanted to start moving them, and needed to build up some feedback. I agreed to it, and promised that I would do him the favor of giving him positive feedback to whoever enquired to me (via phone/email/PM/AIM). I sent him the money (this was on a Saturday) and he told me that same day that I would have it within 8 days, which would be the next Monday.

The Monday came and went, and nothing arrived. I asked Max where my stuff was, and he said the 'I always ship 10-14 days' and said that if I did not have the stuff by the next Wednesday, to let him know and he would look into it.

The next week and a half came and went, and nothing. At this point, I could not even talk to Max because he was not responding to my IM's and emails and PM's here on MR. I eventually got an IM from somebody claiming to be his "sexy housewife girlfriend-type thing" (I am not making this up folks!) and she said that Max was away for school for two weeks and that I'd have to wait for him to get back. She later told me that the package bounced back, and that it looked like Max never put my address on it or it fell off. She promised that she would send it out within the week, and we agree that I would send an extra $60 to cover the difference between Royal Mail and FedEX so that I could track it. She promised to send it out on a Wednesday, and Wednesday came and went, and nothing got shipped.

I eventually heard back from Max on the following Sunday (this is now mid October, for those keeping score), and he told me that it still had not been shipped, and he wanted to send me a refund, but the refund would not even cover everything that I had sent to him and the fees that I had incurred. We eventually agreed to a refund amount (that really did not satisfy me, but at this point I just wanted to get as much back as I could). I wanted him to ship me the products that I bought, but he claimed that he 'lost them', and I replied by asking why he could not just send out a new set, after he told me that he had millions of them lying around. He refused, and promised to send the money back to me within 3 days. Three days came and went (notice the pattern?) and I got nothing. Another week went by, and I got nothing. Eventually he told me that he had to go to Leeds to take a friend to a funeral, but offered no apology or explanation as to why he missed the date he said he would send.

Fast forward another 2 weeks to today, a promise from him that money would be sent on last Friday, and a $500 + hole in my pocket (I did get my $60 back), an entire summers worth of money gone.

Max, if you read this, and I hope you do, I want the money sent IMMEDIATELY to me. I've already contacted the local police as well as other agencies.

Your comments/support are appreciated.

~skoker

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. ®