OAK FOREST, Ill. (CBS) — The Sony PlayStation 5 video game system sold out quickly, but it’s still on holiday shopping lists all over Chicago.
And one Oak Forest family learned the hard way – the market is rife with scammers. CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas reported Wednesday that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Brothers Eddie and Paul Etayem are gamers.
“I grew up on the PS1, the PS2,” Eddie said.
“I also like the superhero games too, and Call of Duty of course,” Paul said.
So when the PS5 came out last week, Paul, 18, tried to order it online.
“I sold my actual PS4 to get, to pay for half the PS5,” he said.
But Paul said Target’s website crashed under the high demand. So he tried Walmart – and that didn’t work either.
“I just had to press the check-out and it kept crashing,” Paul said.
Frustrated, Paul logged onto Instagram and saw someone with the handle “Medokicks” selling the console. The Instagram salesman even had dozens of comments calling him “legit,” even though his oldest post is from weeks ago when he posted some Air Jordans for sale.
“He said I can get it shipped out tonight,” Paul said.
Mendokicks convinced Paul to Zelle him $425, and then stopped responding – and even eventually blocked him.
“Just bummed out, like I just wasted $400, bro! Like, why?” he said. “I was rethinking all to myself, rethinking all the red flags – like, how did I not see this?”
Video game bloggers across the web are sharing similar stories of scammers capitalizing on high demand.
Experts said you should never transfer money to someone you don’t know – even Zelle said you should only use their service with trusted family and friends. The Etayem brothers learned that the hard way, and then their mom learned from the family’s online bank records.
“After we contacted Zelle and the bank, no one had any solution for us other than there’s a claim,” said Maria Etayem. “I understand that, but somewhere, somehow, these people need to be held accountable.”
McNicholas wanted to know more about that Instagram seller, Mendokicks. So he messaged him on another account.
Mendokicks told McNicholas he is still selling the PS5, now for $450 via CashApp, Zelle, or Apple Pay.
McNicholas asked him how he is selling it cheaper than Sony.
Mendokicks replied: “My wife is a manager at Walmart. Gets a huge discount on them.”
“I think if the guy didn’t seem so trusting, and if I wasn’t so trusting from the beginning, this probably wouldn’t have happened.” Paul said.
McNicholas then told Mendokicks he was a CBS 2 reported, and asked him why he ripped off the Etayem brothers. Mendokicks quit responding at that point.
Now, McNicholas and the Etayem brothers have something in common – Mendokicks has ghosted them all.
“Be careful who you trust online,” Eddie said.
The family has also filed a police report in Oak Forest and has notified the FBI. Zelle said it is investigating and will try to block the seller from using it in the future.
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