I am the world’s biggest gullible fool. I’m kind of the reason why there are still internet scammers in the world making an instant grand while munching on Lucky Charms cereal in front of the computer all day.
You see, last week, I almost got scammed $1,200. Not that I have $1,200. But here’s what happened…and here’s who to blame.
This is Daina:
She lives in Little Tokyo:
And one afternoon, she and I met up for lunch at this sweet little spot at the Japanese Village Plaza:
Which stand across Pinkberry (Hi, Froyo Fairy!):
…and right next to a cute little Japanese rock garden, no less:
And yeah. I fell in love.
I fell in love with the idea of living by Little Tokyo at downtown L.A., with a view overlooking the Los Angeles Times building, walking my pet every morning by the quaint town of hip artists and avid foodies, having coffee every weekend with Daina.
Remember when I said I got an internship for the summer with the L.A. Times? I called my recruiter and asked if there’s anybody I could contact who can help me get prepared for the internship.
My recruiter connected me with Daina, who interned last summer at the same spot I will fill up this year. Then he added: “Daina was the best intern I’ve ever hired yet. She certainly set the gold standard for all future interns.”
”Future interns” meaning me. Oh dear. Way to set the intimidation.
But more than being intimidated, I was curious. Who was this girl of whom the recruiter spoke so highly? I needed to meet her. So I invited her to lunch.
Since Daina lives in Little Tokyo, I let her pick a spot in her neighborhood, and we finally settled on Joy Mart.
I know. The name. It pains me, too. But more on that later.
After my meeting with Daina and cruising the darling, eclectic streets of Little Tokyo, I began cyber-cruising for apartments around the downtown area. Turns out the lofts at Little Tokyo doesn’t go any lower than $1500 a month. My idyllic downtown apartment dream deflated with a pfffffft.
But then. I saw it on Craigslist:
“$600 for studio downtown. Fully furnished. Newly renovated.”
Um, hello? This is exactly for me!! I contacted the lister immediately.
The next day, the person answered as Elizabeth Ellis. “She” said she was now in the UK because of her job, and desperately needed to rent out her new place at a savvy apartment downtown. She said she couldn’t give me a tour of the place because she was in the UK. But she gave me the address of her place, and pictures of it. She also said she wants a reliable, responsible tenant.
I took a peek of the apartment building, and it was gorgeous. All swanky and shiny, with a Starbucks and a hip pub on the first floor. $600 for a studio here? It sounded too good to be true.
Well, it was too good to be true.
After I responded to “Elizabeth Ellis” telling her that I was definitely interested, and promising that I’m a good tenant, she started sounding more sketchy.
“Hi, thanks for replying,” she e-mailed back. “Now here’s what you have to do…”
And basically, she wanted me to send her $1,200 (rent + deposit) to a new account she will open on eBay, and then she’ll send me the key and contract and if I am “not satisfied” she would refund me the money.
Hmm. That made me take a second to think about the things that did not make sense:
1) First of all, she never ever addressed me by name. She was very cold and impersonal in her messages.
2) She had such atrocious grammar, it hurt my eyes to read her writing. That made me not like her from the start.
3) The most obvious: she asked for money first. On eBay…Huh?
4) $600 for a glamorous studio in downtown L.A.? Yeah. Too good to be true.
But the thing is…I desperately wanted to believe this person. I went round and round trying to talk myself into believing that she was for real. Thankfully, I forwarded my e-mail exchanges to my wiser buddy Christina, who immediately messaged me back and told me it is most definitely a scam, you IDIOT!
Well, she didn’t say the “idiot” part, but that is what I was, bluntly put. My desire for that place was so strong that it greatly inhibited my ability to think rationally.
Kind of a problem because that has happened to me too many times. But it’s also me wanting to believe in the good of humanity. Which might work against me as a future journalist. Hmm.
Ahem. Wow, I can break into so many deep and soulful tangents with this topic.
But anyway. God, was I PISSED OFF. I wanted to write back to “Elizabeth Ellis” and tell “her” that “she” is f**king busted and I’m going to report her sorry ass and make her eat ape shit.
I didn’t e-mail her back, but I did report the incident to the IC3 who probably will use my complaint as toilet paper. But I just needed to let go of some steam.
So yeah. I blame Little Tokyo for its charm, for luring me with fantasies of being part of its kawaii community.
I’m still dreaming, but for now, I’ll just stay a distant admirer.
Back to Daina, who I definitely admire. She’s definitely really personable and smart; I could see why the L.A. Times recruiter was so impressed with her.
Because her college is a small liberal arts college and doesn’t have a journalism major, she was curious about my journalism curriculum, and I curious about everything L.A. Times.
We met up at Joy Mart, a little Japanese restaurant in the middle of Little Tokyo.
I have no idea why it’s called Joy Mart, but it is a nice, casual place, sort of a gem in its own right.
But Daina and I got to talking non-stop as soon as we sat down, and it was half an hour before we got to ordering. I think we might have pissed the servers off a bit, because they had to ask us 4 times if we were ready to order.
We finally did. I got the lunch special, which came with a simple salad in some kind of vinaigrette (didn’t like it):
And miso soup (yum).
I got a combination of two dishes. One was the salmon sashimi:
The other was the Unagi Bowl:
Grilled fresh water eel, nori flakes, and egg in sweet eel sauce.
The Unagi Bowl was delicious, though nothing special. Just very basic eel you can buy from the store, drenched in sticky-sweet soy sauce mixture. I ordered it, however, because I hadn’t had unagi in years and suddenly craved it after Daina told me it was her favorite.
The egg was pathetic though. How is a few eggy hair-strands called “egg”? I could barely taste it.
As for the sashimi, I can’t be a good judge, because I have not had enough sashimi to tell the difference between a good and a average one.
All I know is that the cold, sensual, silky slab just melted in my mouth. Utter bliss. Sashimi rocks.
It definitely endeared her to me. I get slightly perturbed when someone only orders vegetable sushi or the California Roll.
And then we talked for more than an hour. We had to shout a bit because it was so loud at Joy Mart, which seemed to be a popular lunch hang-out spot.
Daina confirmed that the internship was a kick-ass job. As in, it kicks your ass. It’s a lot of work and you’re basically tossed into assignments after assignments without anyone to guide you through the ropes…but it’s also fun and rewarding and everyone is super awesome.
Oh my God. I’m so nervous. Oh my God. I can hardly wait.
After lunch, we trudged off to the Little Tokyo mall, which was just a block away, where Daina treated me to dessert:
Paulette is a macaron heaven.
If you must know, macarons are my favorite dessert. They also remind me of a certain blogger.
There is just something so…posh about macarons. They’re not meant to be gobbled down with fat-free milk like oreos. They are meant to be appreciated and savored…preferably with a small cup of espresso.
Paulette plays to that exquisite charm of macarons with its clean, elegant design.
If I lived in Little Tokyo, I would visit this place daily and do my readings or writing here…ah, if only. Enough dreaming, Sophia.Since I treated her to lunch, Daina asked if she could treat me to a macaron. As if she needed to ask! ;D
I decided to get the earl grey tea macaron, which again reminds me of a certain blogger (you know who you are!).
I saved it to nibble on during the rocky, nauseous bus ride back home, but here’s a shot of it in its dear little package:
It was wonderful. Lovely crispy shell that shatters, and that intensely rich, chewy center. Sweet and perfumed with earl grey tea floral notes, but not sickeningly sweet.
Oh shoot. I just realized another idiotic thing I did. I just told the world that I’m an easy target for scams.
I hope no scammer is reading this. *Squints eyes into suspicious glare*. But if he/she is, I hope I’m now the wiser after this incident.
Don’t you even dare, whoever you are. I’m not that girl anymore.
Question of the Day: Ever get scammed before? Or if you’re too smart to be scammed, what is the most ridiculous scam you’ve come across?