I wish that she had talked to me first. I would have gotten her one for half that price. Plus a small handling fee, of course. But like the wooden iPad that a woman in South Carolina purchased, it wouldn't have worked. According to the police report, the victim:
[...] told deputies that she was approached by two black males who claimed to have purchased iPads in bulk and were selling them for $300 apiece. After McDowell explained that she only had $180, the duo agreed to sell her the device at a cut rate.
But when McDowell drove home and opened the FedEx box containing the iPad, she instead discovered the wood with the Apple logo. The “screen”--which was framed with black tape--included replicas of iPad icons for Safari, mail, photos, and an iPod. It also had what cops described as a “Best Buy sales ticket.”
Link -via Technabob | Photo: Spartanburg County Sheriff
The wooden replica however makes it newsworthy. Therefore as far as I'm concerned this is guerrilla marketing: you get coverage in a ton of newspapers and websites (this one included) for the price of one women willing to lie and a piece of wood.
The con usually goes that the vendor shows the prospective customer a working device, indeed they often let them try it out. And then once the mark gets out their wallet the conman goes back to their vehicle on the pretext of bagging up the goods or getting a fresh one in a sealed box. They then hand over the goods in a closed bag or box and take the cash and split. Except the bag is now full of useless junk of a similar weight to the goods. For some reason it's commonly bottled water. Of course the scam works on the greed of the mark and their belief that they are somehow putting one over on the somebody. That way the buyer will get the hell out of there sharpish without checking the contents of the package, before the seller changes his mind or the police turn up. And of course since even a fool knows that a deal that good must be dodgy they will be reluctant to contact the police for fear of looking foolish or even getting into trouble themselves. And of course the seller will do what they can to enforce this belief by hinting that the sale isn't exactly cosher.
Take a look here for the most recent occurence I'm aware of http://tinyurl.com/3dtlvb7
In the days of the pig in a poke trick the seller would show the healthy piglet to the buyer. On receipt of the cash they would go round the back to stick the pig in a sack tie the top of the bag and hand over a wriggling sack. Exept of course the wriggling animal in the sack would be something worthless of similar weight to the pig.