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A Heartwarming Christmas Story

May 11th, 2003

Here’s a story you won’t want to miss. A college student in New Orleans sold his Macintosh Powerbook computer system for close to $3000 on eBay, and got cheated–the man he sold it to sent him a forged check, putting him in a very bad financial position.

Sounds like all too many stories you hear about online fraud, right? Except this guy decided not to be a victim; in his words, “you just shouldn’t mess with Mac people.” So he went into high gear to catch the con man who stole his computer. Not only did he go to all sorts of amazing lengths to catch the culprit, but a great many people in the Mac community who read his story on Mac web sites and discussion groups volunteered their help. Despite having done all the work and practically serving this criminal up on a platter, the Chicago police, FBI, and Secret Service, all who could have claimed jurisdiction, brushed him off. All seemed to no avail, until…

Well, read the story here. [ Editor’s update : the site seems to have been sold, so I reproduced the story here.] It is a lot of fun. And there is a happy ending, too–although this guy will probably never see his computer again, an authorized Mac seller called General Cybernetics gave him a 12″ iBook gratis, the computer he wanted to buy after selling his Powerbook. And an indie producer has bought the rights to make a movie about his experience.

Update: As the site the story was hosted on seems to have been reset, and perhaps sold, I reproduced the story, sans a few things. One thing I could not find was a copy of his driver’s license, which was originally in the post on the web site of the guy who tracked him down.

However, I did find a mug shot for a Melvin Christmas from Chicago—from 2011. He seemed to have been arrested in March 2011, and convicted several months later, on multiple charges of forgery, theft, and credit card fraud. Sure sounds like the same guy.

The report cites his projected parole date as having been 9/19/2013.

Interestingly enough, his name also turned up a Facebook page—one that was active until January 2011, and then stayed quiet until July 2013, when he started posting again. He looks like the same guy in the mug shots. Considering that he studied computer repair in college in 2000, it kind of fits that this was the guy who was stealing computers as reported in the story from 2003. The charges in 2011 are fairly similar to what he was apparently caught doing in 2003. In 2010, he mentioned being back in school to be a computer technician. Then the 2011 arrest on theft, forgery, and credit card fraud. After getting out in summer 2013, he posted in August that he “fell,” but it “wasn’t my fault.” Um, OK. He posts all the time about Christ and God–but more recently posted a photo taken of an overweight person from behind with a less-than-kind comment. So, go figure.

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  1. Joni Brandt
    December 13th, 2004 at 19:56 | #1

    Hi… It’s a whole new year, and when I googled “heart warming Christmas story” I got your site, and a great story!
    So I thought I’d pass on this site which has a new story for this year… and a video of the Christmas surprise! If you wanna see it? It’s at… gojotv.com
    Enjoy it, and Merry Christmas!
    Oh, yeah, and it’s not a commercial site, so there are no ads or pop-ups.

    [Editor: nevertheless, this is little more than a promo for an outside site–and it does have commercial links. This is very borderline… But so long as there’s no link (I also truncated the address to the base domain), I’ll let it stand.]

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