What about the shoes?

It all started on Craigslist with this, the ad I’d placed once I finally admitted to myself that I’d no longer be riding fast or far:



It continued with this exchange of texts, first from Moses Helster:

December 6

Hi there! I am very interested in buying your bike and willing to pay your asking price. I’m currently working at sea as an oceanographer for NatGeo. Due to this I will not be able to come pick up myself. I can purchase a cashier check and mail it to you to cover the final asking price and I can arrange for a reliable shipper to come and pick it up once the check has been cleared by your bank. Let me know who to make the check to and where to send it.

Regards Moses Helster


To which I responded on December 7

Mr. Helster we have  deal! Make out the cashiers check to Richard Goldberg (at my address). When the check clears the bike can be picked up at my address. Additionally I have an almost unused 8-8 1/2 shoes for the bike. They’re free. If you want them they’re yours.


On December 7 he wrote:

I am glad you agreed to sell to me and also the final price is alright by me so i will go head and mail you the payment..I will send you the usps tracking #after mailing it   Regards Moses Helster


To which I re-inquired: And the shoes?


Two days later, on December 9, I received this:

Good morning Richard, Sorry it took so long to get back to you. I want you to know i sent you the check as agreed. It was shipped via USPS with tracking number XXXXXXXXXXXX. After  reconciliation of my account, I discovered that somehow my assistant must have overpaid you. The payment meant for my daughter’s school fee’s was sent to you! Please help me fix this error! I’m so sorry for the confusion this has caused. Regards Moses Helster

Please when payment is received in the mail, I would like you to deduct your money as agreed, and send the remaining to my daughter’s school., The shipping company will be responsible for the pickup. Regards Moses Helster


On the same day, December 9, I answered:

Mr. Helster–I will not cash the check but rather return it to you. Please have your assistant make out the proper checks. we will do our business when I receive a check for the correct amount.


On December 10 I received this:

Good morning. The payment I sent to you will deliver today..I want you to be on the look out and get back to me once you are in possession of it..

And then, later on the same day, this from him:


Richard, Information reaching me from usps l have it that the payment had been delivered..All you need to do is to have the Check cashed at your bank and get back to me once you have the cash with you so that I can update my daughter’s school..I look forward to hearing from you.

Do you have the cash now?

I need your response


Not hearing back from me, on December 12 I received his final text.

what’s going on Richard,…you have been quite since you received my check…i need you to keep me updated


OK, so on December 6th I received a text from someone who wanted the bike at my price without first looking at it or having someone he trusted look at it. Hmm…  Nonetheless, being eager for the sale, I agreed to his terms and sent him the address at which his trusted shipping company could pick up the bike. So delighted was I that I offered him the shoes as well.

On the 7th he confirmed the agreement but ignored the shoes. Hmm number two.

On the 9th he testified that, indeed, the check was in the mail, then acknowledged that his “assistant” had made an easily corrected error, that I was to receive a check for vastly more than the meager $400 to which I was entitled. He also noted the simple action I might take to correct this and reconfirmed that the bike would be picked up.  [Now we are well past the hmm stage.]

This was quite enough to overcome my eagerness for a sale, hence my reply saying I’d wait for the proper check before going any further. [My evaluation and approach were both confirmed in a visit to the 20th Precinct of the NYPD and by my wife’s unfailing common sense.] This not fitting into his plan, he ignored my text and, on December 10th, texted only about the check’s imminent arrival. By this time the USPS envelope had been delivered and I refused delivery and sent it back to the return address in Ohio.

The following day, the 11th, he again texted regarding the check and again mentioned his daughter’s school. His concluding “Do you have the cash now? I need your response” was clearly geared to get the money fast.

The next day, the 12th, the eagerness and pressure continued, this time with a hint of feigned desperation. Nothing has followed. It’s now been eight days. I still have the bike and the shoes.

Anybody want to buy a light, fast, wonderfully geared bike?


Published in: on December 20, 2015 at 4:32 pm  Comments (11)  

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11 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Richard, I think your buyer wasn’t an oceanographer–he must have been a Nigerian prince.


  2. This is one of the most common scams on the internet. They offer to buy something then send a check (very official looking) for more the the amount and hope you will refund the difference before you see how high the check bounces.





    • Dmitri, I’ve not given up bike riding. I have stopped riding long and fast enough to merit the Klein.


  4. Some more comments sent to my email address:

    from shimon
    Hi Richard.Wish you a wonderfull time in the Big Apple, and hope to see here …

    from Beverly
    Hi Richard Hope you Are well ! What an interesting story you posted. The bicycle…[Is it still available?]

    …and my reply:
    Hello Beverly, Yes, I still have the bike and would very much like to sell it…

    From Cousin Leslie
    Good luck with your bike sale and wishing you and Bobbie a happy, healthy New…

    From Johanna
    Happy holidays to you too Richard and thank you for the amazing photos at Ric…\

    From Ronald
    I will buy the bike, the shoes and whatever else you may want to include, per…

    From Susie
    still laughing, and yes, Bobbie is very wise!!! Love to you always,


  5. And from Marian:
    What is the cost of one free shoe?


  6. Dick what size are the shoes? And are they laced left to right? The check is in the mail..I think! Happy Holidays to you and Bobbie. Healthy Prosperous 2016. Love you both- Lew Brown.


  7. From David:
    Happy Holidays to you, Richard!

    May each acquire what they need. Shoes and all.




  8. Dear Dick,

    I only buy gently used shoes because they are already broken in and so comfortable. I just might be interested in those shoes. Can you send a picture?


    • I won’t be able to photograph the shoes for a while since I’m currently on satellite high above the earth documenting day-to-day activities among the astronauts for an upcoming PBS special. Since the shoes are free, however, you might just send a voided check to my assistant.


  9. What a rigamarole! Luckily you smelled a rat before parting with your bike or your (hard-earned?) money! Good luck selling it in 2016!


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