Don Breeze and the Mormon Missionaries

PREFACE:
Internet scams. They’re everywhere. It seems like every time I hop online I see one. That could be because I actively seek them out, but you know what I mean.

While some scams can be quite intricate, a good majority of the ones I come across are a copy + past job, with a few key words changed here and there (like most of the papers I wrote in college, now that I think about it).

Most housing scams I’ve seen follow the same basic backstory; someone is looking to [RENT/SELL] their property after recently moving to [INSERT STATE HERE] to care for their sick [INSERT RELATIVE HERE] and will be gone for [INSERT NUMBER OF YEARS HERE].

I give this latest scammer an A+ for creatively tweaking that backstory, and at the same time, an F for having any understanding whatsoever about the backstory they created.

This scam involves someone trying to convince me that they’re a Mormon missionary (for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints). Unfortunately, this person (who you’ll soon see knows nothing about Mormonism) decided this was the best backstory to tell here, in the state of Utah, where nearly 63% of the population is Mormon.

Even more unfortunate for this scammer, they met me, part of that 63%, who also spent two years abroad serving a mission just like they claim in their scam.

I decided to have some fun with my newfound missionary friend and quiz them on the religion they’ve dedicated their life to, while dispelling a few common misconceptions along the way.

And now…

THE SCAM:
While browsing Craigslist’s housing section I found this 2-bed/2-bath home for rent and immediately noticed that both images were clearly watermarked from another website. I was also drawn to the line in the description reading “60 in TV incl.”. I assumed this meant that a 60-inch TV was included in the house, which seemed weird, if that really were the case.

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I plugged the house address into a Google search and immediately found the real listing on another site, which was actually a 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom home for sale. This listing had 20+ images and was selling for $260,737, which was a little more believable than the $700 per-month the Craigslist ad was asking for.

I knew I had found a scammer so created a fake email address under the alias Don Breeze and sent them a message…

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A short time later the scammer responded…

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So Mr. Pratricia is a Mormon member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints who left the United States and is living in the country of New Jersey, where he’s SERVING IN MISSION, for 2-3 years with his wife.

What Mr. Pratricia didn’t realize was that ALL members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are Mormons. It’s like saying “a Catholic member of the Catholic Church” or “an Applebee’s manager who works at Applebee’s.” It just goes without saying.

He also made the mistake of misspelling his own last name (Pratricia), so I decided that’s how I would refer to him from that point on…

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I had several people ask me if Mormons are allowed to use electricity while I was serving a mission in the United Kingdom. My guess is they were mistaking Mormons with the Amish. That or it just looked like I woke up and got dressed in the dark… But yes, Mormons are allowed to use electricity.

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It looked like a pretty standard rental application, except I was still worried about the electricity situation…

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If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked “so, how many wives do you have?” I could pay for all 11 weddings to my 11 wives. I joke. The Mormon church outlawed polygamy in the early 1900’s and it’s no longer practiced. Most men I know are lucky if they can find one woman to marry them, let alone 11. Again, I joke.

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Something told me Mr. Pratricia didn’t really understand all the explanation I made but I  was glad to see “the house has a electrical and everything is in good condition.”

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The application called for a current address so I listed that of the Ogden City Police Department. I also gave Mr. Practricia the phone number of my Google Voice account. My previous scammers grew suspicious of me when I told them I didn’t have a phone (I didn’t want to give out my real number), so I hoped by giving him this number I could drag things out even longer while keeping my actual identity concealed.

I was curious to see how Mr. Practricia would answer my question about water. Although Mormons do in fact abstain from tea, coffee and alcohol, there’s no regulations on milk or ice water. I wouldn’t suggest mixing them together, but I mean, you wouldn’t get kicked out of the church if you do.

A few hours after submitting my rental application Mr. Pratrica text me on the Google Voice app.

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I felt I could drag this scam out longer through email instead of text so I told Brother Pratricia that I was forbidden from texting at work. He quickly replied with an email letting me know my application had been approved…

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“And I promise I will always be a good friend to you too, Mr. Pratricia.”

Mr. Pratricia was asking for pictures of my wife and I, so I needed a face for Mr. and Mrs. Don Breeze. I decided that Kevin Malone from NBC’s The Office would make a great Don Breeze. After a quick Google search I found several pictures of Kevin with his coworker Angela Martin, and although not together in the show, decided they would make a great couple in this scam.

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I was really pumped about the house being wired for a wetbar…

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Mr. Pratricia didn’t look like your stereotypical Mormon missionary, but maybe the rules and requirements had changed over the years…

I took the pictures Mr. Pratricia sent me of his family and plugged them into several reverse image search engines online, but had no luck figuring out where they stole them from. The only image that came back with results was the FedEx package, which came from an online tutorial on waterproofing packages.

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Before Mr. Pratricia even read my email he sent me a text, asking if I got his last message…

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Mr. Pratricia quickly replied to my text with an email…

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I was honestly surprised this was even an option. Poor scam management if you ask me. Luckily for Mr. Pratricia, I was willing to pay for everything upfront.

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MORMON FACT: Mormons do indeed use air conditioning, even if it’s not mentioned anywhere in the Bible. I keep my home at a cool 70º in the summertime and like to think that Moses would have done the same thing if air conditioning existed in his days.

Mr. Pratricia sent me three quick scatterbrained replies in a row…

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I was thrilled to learn the house had “Air condition.” There’s nothing worse than serving a bunch of minors alcohol from a wetbar in a house with no AC.

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Utah wedding photographers, am I right? If you’re offended by this, please stick with me. We’ll take a nice jab at all the Utah bro’s here in a minute.

MORMON FACT: Missionaries don’t get paid for their service. In fact, it’s just the opposite; they pay their own way. Crazy, right? No wonder Mr. Pratricia was so anxious to get my money.

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I didn’t reply to Mr. Pratricia that day and the next morning he text me…

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Things were pretty crazy for me at the time (the real me, not the Don Breeze me) and I didn’t reply to Mr. Pratricia for the rest of the day. The next morning he text me three times in the span of 10 minutes.

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Before I could reply to Mr. Pratricia’s text he sent me an email…

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I could smell the desperation oozing from his dishonest little fingertips…

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I really hoped Mr. Pratricia would pick up on my scriptural reference from the Book of Mormon, but something told me he wasn’t familiar with anything that had to do with Mormonism.

I could tell he was getting frustrated with me so I emailed him, explaining why my wife didn’t send the money the day before…

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I couldn’t find a good RIA counter to Photoshop so converted an old Walmart customer service counter from a previous scam…

Hopefully Mr. Pratricia would understand why the money wasn’t sent the day before and would give me another chance…

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“You have our family pictures and we can never tarnish our image because of money…”

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I’ve asked a few scammers to fill out a questionnaire/application of my own and it’s easily my favorite part of the scam. I couldn’t wait to see how Mr. Pratricia answered my questions and luckily for me, he couldn’t wait to answer them…

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Mr. Pratrica’s answers did not disappoint. I read his email over and over again, laughing harder and harder each time at the thought of him wetting the couch.

He had earned my trust with his honest answers so I had no choice but to send him and his wives the money. Unfortunately for him, I was about to encounter another problem when making the payment. First I just needed to do a little Photoshop work to this RIA storefront picture I found…

Ria Store Picture

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Would Mr. Pratrica correct me and tell me that Mormon church services run for three hours on Sundays, not 10 hours on Saturdays? Probably not…

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That right, don’t text me. Send me an email…

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Now that the Saturday sabbath marathon had ended I could send Mr. Pratrica the money. Surely nothing would go wrong this time…

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If you’ve never seen The Office episode where Kevin spills his famous chili please check it out. It’s one of my favorites.

Hopefully Mr. Pratricia would be understanding of this messy situation…

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Luckily for me, Mr. Pratricia appreciated my effort and willingness to rent his house. Unluckily for me, I wasn’t able to clean the spilled chili out of Applebee’s carpets and had to pay the cleaners to come do it…

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Those non-Mormon fee’s are killer. Mr. Pratricia responded with another text immediately followed by an email…

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30 minutes passed and I hadn’t replied to Mr. Pratricia so he text me again…

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I finally emailed Mr. Pratricia back from the MoneyGram err… RIA store…

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Baptism is a BIG commitment, but Mr. Pratricia responded right away, not thinking twice about whether or not we should join his church just to save $170.

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Look at Mr. Pratricia doing electronic missionary work, telling my wife and I to get baptized into his church!

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2.5 hours to the nearest Mormon church was quite the exaggeration. I could drive to seven different Mormon churches in 2.5 minutes if I left my house right now, and that’s not an exaggeration, but I doubted Mr. Pratricia would call me out on that. I was fairly confident he wasn’t really from Utah at this point.

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Apparently Mr. Pratricia didn’t quite understand the scenario here…

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Simple enough, right?

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I didn’t respond to Mr. Pratricia again that day so once again, he text AND emailed me first thing the next morning…

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I’m not sure but I think Mr. Pratricia might be disappointed in me…

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WHO’S DISAPPOINTED NOW?!

Mr. Pratricia quickly replied to my email with another text/email combo…

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Mr. Pratricia was apologetic and still wanted my money so that was a good sign.

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I still wasn’t convinced the house had electricity AND a wetbar. It sounded too good to be true.

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“Make the payment without your wife knows…” 

I wasn’t replying as quickly as Mr. Pratricia would have liked so he sent me four text messages over the course of 20 minutes…

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Text-happy Mr. Pratricia was getting desperate but we had bigger issues at hand…

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I was anxious to see how Mr. Pratricia would explain these 10 polygamists BBQ’ing in the front yard. His answer didn’t put my mind at ease and led to an argument…

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Mr. Pratricia was at his breaking point so it was time to send him the money before he gave up on me…

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Mr. Pratricia responded faster than Napoleon could take the chapstick out of his pocket…

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Leave it to Don Breeze to act like a babe.

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An hour later Mr. Pratricia text me again…

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Five minutes later he text me again…

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30 minutes passed and Mr. Pratricia sent another text…

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Mr. Pratricia text me three times over the next hour, desperately trying to get my money…

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15 minutes later I received two more texts from the desperate criminal…

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Finally, my turn had come to send Mr. Pratricia the money. I emailed him all the details of the transfer right after I left the old RIA store that was now converted into a Latter Day Savings store.

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This was a very typical Latter Day Savings transfer but for some reason Mr. Pratricia wasn’t happy…

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Simple enough, I wasn’t sure why Mr. Pratricia was making this so difficult…

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Mr. Pratricia was so mad that he used the one word in the English language he knew was bad, even though he wasn’t quite sure how to use it in a sentence…

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Mr. Pratricia sent me three quick replies, first telling me to go resend the money, then quickly catching himself after realizing it’s not worth it, and instead telling me to go look for another house to rent…

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I decided to text Mr. Pratricia the next morning after we had both listened to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and our tempers had cooled down…

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Mr. Pratricia didn’t reply right away so I hit him with three quick texts like he’d done to me many times before…

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Finally he responded…

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An hour or so went by and Mr. Pratricia hadn’t apologized so I text him again (and again, and again).

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It was beginning to look like Mr. Pratricia was really sorry for the way he treated me..

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A day went by and Mr. Pratricia still hadn’t apologized so I text him again…

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Another day and another text…

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And another…

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And another…

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It had been more than a week since Mr. Pratricia last replied to me with “I can’t apology for what reason?” I thought I might be able to trick him into apologizing with a little reverse-psychology but when that didn’t work it became clear that he wasn’t going to apologize or reply to me ever again.

I decided to send him one final email like I had done with each of my previous scammers to commemorate the end of our turbulent relationship…

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I’ve said it at the end of my first four scam encounters and I’m saying it again; IF YOU FIND A DEAL ONLINE THAT SEEMS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE OR SOMETHING FEELS A LITTLE OFF, THAT’S BECAUSE IT PROBABLY IS. Please be smart when dealing with money & strangers on the Internet.

IN CONCLUSION:
I’ll never know what happened to brother and sister Pratricia (and Maria) and why he couldn’t apologize. “I can’t apology for what reason ?”  Perhaps Mormon’s don’t believe in apologies? (Note: they do.) Maybe the Pratricia’s fulfilled their service in Texas and returned to the country of New Jersey to finish out their mission and didn’t have an international texting plan? It will always be a mystery.

As for me, I’ll just have to move on and start looking for someone else trying to [RENT/SELL] their property after recently moving to [INSERT STATE HERE] to care for their sick [INSERT RELATIVE HERE] and will be gone for [INSERT NUMBER OF YEARS HERE].


If you would like to learn more about the missionary work Mr. Pratricia claimed to be doing, please CLICK HERE. You can even arrange a FREE meeting with the missionaries and ask them all your burning questions about milk, water, electricity, air conditioning or whatever else your heart desires.