How to avoid Crypto-stamp scams
A few years ago, I went to a shop in London called Ballymore.
The shop was an old Victorian building that had been converted into a coffee shop.
I paid for my coffee with a pair of old-fashioned plastic coins.
I’d heard the coins had been worth around £2,000 and that I’d only be getting one.
The coins, like the coins I’d received earlier, had the word ‘CASH’ stamped on them.
The word ‘MARKET’ had been added to it.
‘I’ve been told that you can get around 50% off of them,’ said the shopkeeper.
‘Oh, yeah, and the first 50 are free.’
I asked if the coins were for me.
‘Yes, but we’ll give you a discount on the rest,’ he said.
‘The rest, of course, are free!’ he said, handing me a box full of old coins.
‘They’re worth about £4.50, I’ve got a stack that’s worth £5.’
So I was really happy to have the coins, I said.
The first thing I did was call the shop to get a refund.
They said they’d been told I’d be getting two.
‘What are you getting two for?’
‘Two boxes of the new coins,’ they said.
It took me a while to realise that I was getting a refund, because the coins in the box were already gone.
The store was closed.
I was a bit embarrassed, I told myself.
I went back to the shop, where I saw a man on the phone.
‘You’re getting two boxes of coins for a lot less than you paid for them,’ he told me.
I called back.
‘No, I’m getting two sets of old stamps.’
The coins in my box were gone.
‘Ah, well, I guess that’s a good deal for you,’ I told him.
He was happy to sell me a few more sets of coins, but they were still missing some of the stamps.
I tried to find the shop where I’d been sent the coins.
The address listed a shop called ‘Cashbox’.
The receptionist told me there wasn’t a Cashbox in London.
‘CashBox is not the right address for the coins,’ I said, thinking it could be a mistake.
I asked again.
‘It’s not a Cash box, it’s a Money Box,’ she said.
I told her I had some questions about how the coins would be used.
‘Would you like them for my baby clothes?’ she asked.
I explained the problem.
‘Well, we don’t want to sell you any of the clothes you’re wearing because we’ll have to send the clothes to China,’ she replied.
‘Okay, so the clothes are for your baby.
And if they’re worn by someone else they’ll be used in China for other people.’
I told my story to a saleswoman at the cash box, who confirmed that there was a Cash Box in London and that she was going to send some of my coins to China.
‘How much will it cost?’
I told the saleswoman.
‘Not that much,’ she answered.
‘And I’ll be sending the money to you later.
How much will I be able to get for my clothes?’
I explained that I didn’t want my baby’s clothes, because I was expecting a son.
She said, ‘Well we don, I mean, you don’t know what you’re going to do.
The money’s going to China to be sent to your son.
You’ll be out of luck, really.’
She said I should tell her what I was going for, and then she told me she’d have to go back to London to get the coins for me and put them in a box.
I couldn’t understand what was going on, but I knew it had to be done.
I gave her my passport and told her to get on with it.
I wasn’t sure if she could have the cashbox and the coins sent to China, but she could, and she did.
The cashbox is in the middle of a busy shopping street in London, near Victoria Station.
The door is wide open and there’s a man waiting outside with a stack of coins on his shoulders.
He tells me the coins are from the early 20th century and they’re worth £4,500.
‘That’s a lot of money,’ he says.
‘There’s no way I’m going to sell this, is there?’
‘No,’ I tell him.
‘So if you’re ever in need of a coin, call me.’
The man asks me if I know where I can get the coin stamps for my Baby clothes.
I tell the man that the coins have been sent to a bank in Shanghai.
He says that the stamps are in a safe, and that the bank is sending them out to the correct people. ‘