back to article Portsmouth student peeled in potato laptop scam

A student in Portsmouth has fallen victim to the classic potato PC scam, parting with £600 for nothing more than a bag full of spuds, the Portsmouth News reports. The unnamed 27-year-old was shown a bagged Sony laptop by a "man in the back of a car" parked at the rear of Debenhams in Slindon Street, Portsmouth, on 6 March. He …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    expensive lessons learned...

    dont buy off a dodgy bloke in a car park... with a deal to good to be true

    id be be keeping quite about it myself...

    paris because even she wouldnt be so thick to get caught out

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    No sympathy

    We'll chances are he thought the laptop was "iffy" anyway. So if he's stupid and selfish enough to pay for a potentially stolen laptop, then on his head be it....

  3. Paul Charters

    Serves him right, really...

    I mean...seriously....what kind of fruitbat buys a laptop from a back of a car?

    Anyone who talks to you in the street to sell you something is going to rip you's that simple!

  4. Robert Hill
    Paris Hilton

    Absolute idiocy...

    £600 for something out of the back of a car??? Even PC World (rip-off kings of High Street) will sell you a brand new laptop, with warranty and in a box, for £600.

    People, if you are going to get scammed, at least fall for deals that LOOK worth your while!

    Paris, 'cause not even she is that dumb...

  5. Richard
    Paris Hilton


    This seems like a varient of the bloke who turns up in a van with some "high quality" speakers. Sells them to you, leaving you to discover that you have a high value brick.

    I very nearly laughed in the guys face when someone tried this scam on me.

    Paris Icon, coz even she wouln't fall for this scam.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    A real hussle

    If only they had watched this scam on "The Real Hussle" a few months back.

  7. Chris Collins


    So waht was the spec on those spuds? Desiree or Marris Pipers? Fool and his money...

  8. Matt

    @ Anonymous coward

    sounds like they had been watching the real hustle!!!

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Maris Piper

    lol, what a spud. Seriously can't believe that he went to the police though. Anyone that greedy or that stupid deserves to be parted with their cash.

    Mine's the one with the Vaio in the pocket.

  10. Dogbyte


    I'd have understood if it had been cheap as chips...

    The greasy white one with the batter stains, please.

  11. Stu

    She said WHAT!?

    "I would advise members of the public to refrain from buying high-value goods from people out of the back of cars or vans. If you do choose to make a purchase, ensure that you have the goods before you hand over any money."

    Is that an actual quote from that constable???

    This is typical police-person stupidity - I think the statement should have gone something like this -

    "I would say to the public that they should NEVER, under any circumstances, buy ANY goods from people out of the back of cars or vans, or in the pub. If you do choose to make a purchase, understand that there is a high possibility that the items are stolen, or are faked, or could actually be a sack of potatoes. Such persons should not be dealt with due to possible violent tendencies and connections with organised crime / terrorism. If such items are found on yourself they will be confiscated, and you may face prosecution for ownership of stolen goods."

    Her statements nearly encourage such nefarious dealings.

    *I Always wanted to use the word nefarious in a posting!*

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Hot potatos

    Hahaha - wonder if the spuds were stolen too?

  13. bluesxman

    hardly a new scam

    As an impoverished student I remember some dodgy geezah approaching me in a supermarket car park (blocked me in actually, tosser) trying to sell me a jen-u-wine Tag Heuer for about a ton "just like the one pictured in this BMW magazine I happen to have with me". Span me story about how he had these left over samples he had to shift, or some such malarkey.

    I pointed out I was a) a student; b) in possession of a shiny new watch I'd just been given for Christmas; c) brassic; and d) simply not fucking interested in his dodgy knock-off £10-a-go-from-some-market-stall shite. OK I didn't actually mention "d", I value my teeth.

    Anyway, this was early 1995 and I'm sure it was an old ruse even then. Point to my story? Not a great deal.

  14. Stuza
    Paris Hilton

    Far too many Darwin contenders out there

    Another example of this: This weekend I had a guys come round to buy my Gumtree advertised car. He was up for taking it without checking the paperwork, getting in the car or even taking it for a test drive.

    I had to force the guys to go for a test drive with me and practically ram the paperwork down his throat. Aparently I had a "nice family" and we appeared very "trustworthy".

    Too many people need protecting from themselves....

    Paris? She'd of looked great in a bikini on the bonnet

  15. Hedley Phillips

    Serves him right

    He was more than happy to buy something knowing full well that the method of sale made it a high possibility that the item was stolen.

    So, if he is happy with the idea of theft and benefitting from someone elses misfortune, then why is he complaining that he has been the victim of a scam/theft?

    Maybe he should have gone to the University of Life and learnt not to be such a selfish <insert word here>

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    What's the betting

    That he actually got scammed for £100, but said it was £600 to the police to try and make an insurance claim? I can't see anyone being stupid enough to hand over retail value for a back of the van laptop...

  17. Fluffykins

    Watch out

    The Peelers are coming.

  18. Ferry Boat

    At least he can...

    cut the spuds in half, carve 'I'm a fool' into them, dip spud-half in paint and press to forehead.

    Ah, potato-print the inkjet of the early 70's.

  19. Daniel Wilkie

    Real Hussle

    And way before that there was almost the exact same thing on an episode of Road Wars, only they were using bottles of water in laptop bags instead ;)

  20. cor

    In fairness to the dupe,

    It is not uncustomary to purchase second-hand goods out of the back of a car in E. Africa, where not every place has a PC-World type shoppe mall.

    It is however, unfortunate that he chose not to get ripped off by PC-World, at least then he could get them back...

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    By not letting the cat out of the bag he bought a pig in a poke.

  22. Gordon

    Oh, well.

    This is a well-known scam. Often it's a bottle of water in there.

    I tend to agree. The bloke probably thought "I'm getting it for cheap because it's knocked off". Poetic justice, if that's the case. He thought he was going to profit from someone else's misfortune - but ended up getting stung himself.

    What kind of idiot pays 600 notes for a laptop from a car boot, anyways? You can get a decent new, warranteed laptop for that from any number of retailers. And they'll be there next month if it goes wrong.

  23. George Johnson

    "Too good to be true? Probably is!"

    OK we can all get fleeced sometimes, when we get caught on the hop, but seriously? Putting aside the stupidity of buying anything out of the back of a car, regardless of price, didn't he even just open the bag after paying up to make sure it was in there? I do that with a £10 item from Argos, before I leave the car park!

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Old Trick

    A friend of mine at university thought it was a good idea to buy a bag of pot from a bloke in the street at Leeds. Ended up a hundred quid poorer and with a bag of christmas tree clippings - it still brings tears of laughter to my eyes remembering him desperately trying to smoke some of his 'pot'

  25. Robert Harrison

    600 quid!

    A fortune! When I were a student lad, I wish I was heavy to the tune of 600 quid to be ripped off me in a dodgy scam. I had to make do with just enough hard-earned[1] to get blind drunk at every opportunity.

    Mines the one with the traffic cones and pint glasses in each pocket.

    [1] back when grants were still available that is.

  26. Keith Glass

    P-p-p-p-powerbook, anyone ???

    It's far too easy to scam most people these days. Anyone else remember the P-p-p-powerbook ??

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can't believe...

    ...that there are still chumps out there that still fall for this. Caveat Emptor has never been more appropriate.

  28. bothwell


    Portsmouth is not in East Africa, however, so our student's still a dumbass.

    Actually, Robert Harrison is quite right as well - I was a student not five years ago and I certainly never owned 600 squids at a time with which to be ripped off wiv.

  29. Rik
    Gates Halo

    Technology Refresh Warning ! ! !

    Never, ever buy a bag of Jersey Royals. This old 32 bit technology was superceded years ago and the current 64bit Maris Piper is sure to be outdone soon too. In short, Jersey Royals are no longer supported. Clearly the seller in this case knew that and cleverly avoided the subject, perhaps distracting him with his stripy shirt & mask. Let this be a lesson to all of us, NOT ALL POTATOES ARE JERSEY ROYALS and NOT ALL 64bit SPUDS ARE MARIS PIPERS!!!! In the words of Shaw Taylor - 'Keep 'em peeled'!!!!

  30. Graham Bartlett

    @Robert Hill

    £400 from Tescos at the moment. And you can find new laptops (from legit companies) for £300 on t'Internet. Sure, I've been ripped off before, but never to the tune of that kind of money. What a prat.

  31. milan
    Thumb Down

    I remember

    Being stopped in the street when a car pulled up beside me, I thought they wanted directions.

    Ello mate, we just dropped some stock off at Argos for our boss, turns out he handed over too much to us and Argos signed for the lot anyway.

    We gotta get rid of them before we go back to work. I've got all this kit, Solid gold gen-uuuuine necklaces, bracelets and take a look at this corker, what a bloody diamond in that. Tell you what. Bung us 50 quid and it's yours. A few sharp words later they took off...about 20 ft to the next bloke that obviously looked like a mug.

    a minute later, said mug dips into pocket, hands over cash, has something pretty much thrown out the window at him and they screech off like a bat out of hell. Said mug was still standing there looking into a bag and looking seriously depressed when I passed him by.

  32. Reminds me of a time

    when I used to live in Lagos

    guys used to sell bottles of 'spirits' up and down bar beach that looked the real deal until you realised the bottle of bells or other whisky had been drilled at the bottom and refilled with cold tea.

    it was worth beinig ripped off just to be part of the ingenuity behind it.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    re: Old Trick

    and i've got the rest of the xmas tree if anyones interested


    school chum of mine got ripped off for a £15 bag of sage and then to add insult to injury was totally shown up when he was lifted by the rozzers who then laughed him out of maccie d's in the st johns centre

    ah sweet 6th form days at city of leeds high school


  34. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Shamed to admit

    I had similar trick pulled on me, bought 2 pounds of King Edwards from a shady greengrocer, when I got home there was an iPhone in the bag. I was gutted.

  35. Burt
    Thumb Up

    Good Deal

    The earliest Jersey Royals are currently £10 a kilo. If he got a Vaio + charger pack's weight of those bad boys then he'll be quids in.

    Get y'self down Charlotte Street quick.

  36. Markie Dussard
    Thumb Down

    Why does anyone care?

    Old adage: you can't con an honest man.

  37. Anonymous Coward

    I have bought from boot of car

    It was a nice plant at a car boot sale..

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A friend of mine....

    Fell for a similiar scam.

    He thought he was buying a bag of gold chains and watches.

    He parted with his hard earned and and ended up with a bag of flour.

    Much to the amusment of us.....

  39. Anonymous Coward

    @ AC

    ..."I can't see anyone being stupid enough to hand over retail value for a back of the van laptop"...

    Remember he was a *Portsmouth* student :P

  40. Martin Owens


    "The world seems blessedly free of honest men" - Moist von Lipvig

  41. Raymondo B
    Thumb Down

    Could have been a foreign student

    As cor says, this sounds like a foreign student who got ripped off. They would be less informed of the UK laptop market and might be used to 'back of a van' sales for exclusive goods back home. Probably someone called John Smith though.

  42. Caspah Scottorn

    Saw this for real last year in Scumpton

    I saw this happen to a pair of Chinese students in the back of East Street in Southampton. I couldn't believe my luck seeing this scam in action as I was walking by. The guys doing the sale jumped into a beaten up Astra and made a very quick wheel spin exit while the students opened the bag and found a yellow pages.

  43. J
    Paris Hilton

    All to say is

    Ha. Ha. Ha.

  44. Anonymous Coward

    the most polite mugging..

    I ever experienced was to the tune of as tenner for a bag of 'lavender' I was advised would be a good thing to purchase by three lads on Oxford Street, Manchester.

    well.. I say lavender..could have been some knock-off rosemary in there... and it was 3am and I was a student and heading home from Rockworld.. all weighed against the dentistry bills and reconstructive surgery they were very politely not mentioning whilst standing either side of me..

    overall, a simple transaction... and the sympathy from my dealer friend and the laugh afterwards over a couple was worth it..

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    grave coment on society

    1. perfectly acceptable to shout loud and proud your own stupidity while expecting people not to judge you.

    2. student (and a dumb one) with £600 to spare - just plain wrong.

    Paris because the internet needs more pics of girls.

  46. William Towle

    Strawberry! Quick!

    Did it really happen, or is it just more policemen blindly believing something from their inbox again?


    [ ]

  47. Nick Rutland


    Actually this seemed to be the preferred sales channel for this particular brand of speaker. A friend of mine (in our contractor days - too much money) bought a pair and took them home. Thye were fine: not special, but the value was about ok. We did a search the next day when he told us, and got a reference to a guy in Berlin who'd had exactly the same experience - same brand, same spiel. A bit more poking around got us to a collective site about this brand. The general opinion was that the deal was OK: you got a receipt, and people who turned up at the address to return unwanted speakers got their money back (cash, natch). No questions asked. There was even one guy who, ah, 'upgraded' the amount he'd paid, and got that back.

    Honest people get villains a bad reputation, I say.

  48. Slaine

    ha ha ha OMG - I've wet myself again

    ...and did anyone catch what subject this "Brain of Britain" is studying at tertiary level in Postmouth?... degree in fastfood cuisine possibly, MBA personal welfare and social interation perhaps, or how about ROV hairdressing?

    Oh! sorry mate - thought this was MY jacket.

  49. Edward Fingleton

    That offer...

    ...must have been appeeling

  50. Herby

    For the price...

    He could have gotten one of those EEEpc's WITH the nice model (probably only an hour, but...)

    Of course if the spuds were nice imported Idaho russets from here in the USA, it would have been a little less painful.

    My question, why potatoes? Aren't bricks a bit cheaper (easier to find "surplus")?

  51. Sam


    Should have kept his Eyes about him.

    People like that should be Fried.

    Did he get depressed and go and get Mashed?

    Did his friends Chip in to help him?

    The Jacket.

    Jacket potato.....OK, I'll fuck off.

  52. Warren
    Paris Hilton

    Could end in a Darwin Award...

    Due to being properly skint, he could try the old favourite of filling up the top drawer of the desk with oats, pour over a pint or two of milk, hey presto! flapjack diet FTW!

    Darwin attempt, because the last guy to do this after blowing his grant (remember them) on a hi-fi, forgot the limes and nearly died of scurvy!!

    [tale recounted from an old salt at Loughborough Uni]

  53. Maverick

    @ Shamed To Admit / AC

    " . . . when I got home there was an iPhone in the bag. I was gutted."




  54. Morely Dotes

    Bloody git

    Buying a Sony at any price, from any source, is a good way to get a rootkit virus.

  55. frymaster

    "You can't con an honest man"

    Yes you can!

    It's just harder; both to con them, and to find one first. Hence no-one bothers

  56. John H Woods

    never heard of ebay?

    Dell Latitude C640 from ebay: 72 quid. Another 1/2 Gb of Ram, 15, and a wifi card 10. Ubuntu. (although i actually got a windows xp pro licence with the laptop). So wtf?

  57. Simon Day

    @Markie Dussard

    Actually you can con an honest man, quite easily usually.

    The thing it its just not sporting - not to mention the severe difficulty in finding them!

    Its so much easier conning dishonest people, besides they are so many more of them!

    For those that want a crash course with a little entertainment on the side may I recommend a copy of Terry Pratchett's Going Postal - which if you have a couple of spare quid on you I can do you a sweet deal on an original signed hardback edition, if you'd just step towards the back of my car....

  58. Andy Enderby
    Thumb Up

    When I rule the world......

    Sounds like a good test case for my two suggestions for new laws. Intent to receive stolen goods, and not being in possession of a full deck. Case proved, ship the pillock off to Anthrax Island for 5 years or so.

    As suggested elsewhere in this thread, I do feel the copper should have been a tad less sympathetic and more forthright.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    27 year old student? Maybe he had to repeat a few years at school.

    That would make sense I suppose.

  60. Anonymous Coward

    May his student friends should..

    ..chip in.

  61. Wayland Sothcott

    Scams target the dodgy people

    The buyer knows the deal is a bit dodgy but greed carries it through. It's a sort of nudge nudge, wink wink between the buyer and seller. The seller does not have to come up with a convincing story and the buyer by the same agreement accepts the obviously fake reason for selling.

    Serves him right. Very brave to admit it though. I feel sorry for the government employee who lost their laptop though, it could have my data on it.

  62. jason
    Gates Halo


    spud head

  63. R. Jones

    Been there, seen that

    When I was a student there ten years ago I was stopped not far from that spot, only this time for the speaker scam. Ironically I was actually on the lookout for some decent speakers at the time, but the ones on offer looked a bit crap frankly. And, well, I don't tend to buy from geezers out the back of vans, oddly enough.

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    Remember them? They had a big presence in Portsmouth at one time.

    Except that in the case of Portsmouth it stood for In Bred Mutant.

    Jeez, it's a dump. And the locals think it's so great. Usually because they've never been anywhere else.

    Paris as even she's got more brain cells than some of the local beauties.

  65. Slaine
    Paris Hilton

    ...going postal, making money...

    ...good books - VERY good books.

    Now then, before the "urban myth" team get involved, there was a tale I heard in my distant youth, many many moons ago, of the mythical student who survived for a term on "Porrage Oats" after blowing his first grant in 2 weeks. The story I heard suggested that this student then elected to go on an oat-only diet for the following terms and thus to release the grant money for infinitely more important substances. Desk drawers were given over to the storage of prepared porrage which could then be portioned out as required. After a suitable length of time, the individual was apparantly diagnosed as the first "modern history" case of scurvy in the UK.

    I had always assumed this to be a myth. I discovered over the recent festive visits that my aunt actually studied with that very real student. And if you're reading this, "nice one!!!"

    Icon, because she keeps something nicer in her drawers.

  66. Simon Painter
    Paris Hilton

    And while you're at it...

    I have some lovely italian leather jackets for sale... no, I am italian and have been over for a trade show but don't want to pay for these samples to go back on the plane so that's why I am selling them out of the back of a rental car in a motorway service station.

    Paris Hilton because she's nearly as fake.

  67. Jay

    Wait a minute...

    "The heist was perpetrated by two ne'er-do-wells: the salesman, described as white, British, between 40 and 50 years old and 5ft 6ins and 5ft 8ins in height, and with grey hair;"

    The bastard operator hard at work? or merely an imposter? And who is this ARY? [Asian Raced Youth]

  68. Anonymous Coward

    As the WPC in question....!

    The quote from me is actually correct. The reason I put it in those words, is that there will always be some stupid person who will buy things like, irrespective of the advice they are given.

    It is not up to me (or any other police officer) to tell everyone what to do, just to try to advise them how best to protect themselves - and you never know - they might just get the real laptop out of these guys one day!

    Also, the victim of this scam is an East African bloke who is studying to be a plumber at the local college - nothing to do with university at all.

  69. Simon
    Thumb Up


    When a would-be receiver of stolen property gets stung, it brings a smile to the face of honest people.

  70. Henry Lockwood

    @Simon Day et alii

    Yes, Terry Pratchett's latest books are good examples of the "humorous conman" trope. Another recommendation: older, but still good: is Harry Harrison's Stainless Steel Rat series. Stick to the earlier ones though; some of the later novels aren't quite as funny.

    PS: what a twonk. Really.

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