Don't Fall For The Oldest Trick In The Book

Police in Ceres, Calif., have a warning: If someone comes up to you in a silver Lexus at dusk offering a ridiculously cheap iPad — don't buy it. Authorities say several people have fallen prey to the alluring low prices.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And our Last Word In Business is buyer beware. Police in the city of Ceres, Calif., have a warning, and this is the warning: If someone comes up to you in a silver Lexus at dusk, offering a ridiculously cheap iPad - don't buy it. And the TVs in the trunk? Don't buy those, either.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It may be one of the oldest scams in the book, but several people have fallen prey to the alluringly low prices. They've shelled out hundreds of dollars, thanks to some very clever packaging. The TVs, for example, were...

DETECTIVE DARREN VENN: ...wrapped in really tight bubble wrap. You could see through the bubble wrap, and there was an energy sticker. And then there was a remote and it looked like maybe a - instruction booklet.

INSKEEP: That's Detective Darren Venn, who is trying to save more people from that sinking feeling of being a sucker - because what was under all that decoration masquerading as a flat screen was nothing more than a piece of three-quarter-inch plywood.

VENN: Once you open up the bubble wrap, the piece of plywood was wrapped tightly with black, heavy, thick plastic. And even in the back, there was actually a power cord, which was attached to nothing.

MONTAGNE: Then there were the iPads, which turned out to be white floor tiles - really giving the victims there in Ceres, Calif., something to - hmm, grout about?

(LAUGHTER)

INSKEEP: Well, you know, if you get enough of those iPads, you can redo the bathroom.

(LAUGHTER)

INSKEEP: Come on, you've just got to repurpose it. Why are you complaining?

MONTAGNE: It could be cheap, actually, considering the cost of tiles.

INSKEEP: That's the business news on MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

MONTAGNE: And I'm Renee Montagne.

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