BuzzFeedVideo recently released a video on YouTube where a woman describes a truly bizarre series of events that occurred to her and made her think she was accidentally part of a scam:

  • In college, she was invited to an event where you would be paid $20 if you show your ID. She attended and was indeed paid $20.
  • She later got a phone call informing her she was selected to move on in the process (no specifications of what process) and attended a similar event where she was given $100 for showing her ID.
  • After that, she got a phone call where she was informed she was selected out of everyone else. She was then informed to meet at a certain street intersection at a specified time.
  • She went to the designated place at the designated time and was given an envelop filled with $7000 and was told she was about to attend a meeting where exclusive tickets to upcoming sports events were to be sold. She was given a list of dates to buy tickets for with the money.
  • She went to the nearby sports stadium and was taken to a secret room, where lots of men in suits were also buying tickets.
  • She was the only one paying in cash.
  • The fact that she was paying in cash appeared to raise some red flags for those selling.

I feel like I can usually identify how scams work when hearing the details like this, but I cannot understand where the scam is here, why the person in the video was needed or how she was selected, or even what was going on with the seemingly shady sale of sports tickets. I was hoping someone could describe how the events are at least plausible by explaining:

  • What was going on with the tickets? Why were they being sold in a shady way?
  • Why did the people need to select someone to go for them to the meeting?
  • Why was their selection process so bizarre? It seems they invest a lot of money in the selection process itself, why was it necessary to vet so many people?
  • Why did the fact that she was paying in cash raise flags?

(Note: I had posted this to Skeptics SE, but they helped me realize what the question I was trying to ask actually was and better suited for this site, so if you think you had seen this question before over on that site you probably had.)

  • 2
    I feel that you could have learned the answers to your questions by reading through some of the (admittedly few) insightful comments on YouTube video that you linked to. Basically, the woman may have been a front/mule for ticket scalpers.
    – ender.qa
    Aug 27, 2018 at 22:42
  • 1
    I did not watch the video but perhaps the woman was recruited as money mule to convert counterfeit money to assets easily sold? Aug 27, 2018 at 22:56
  • @ender.qa, yes but that doesn't explain why so much money was spent recruiting her, vetting her among other candidates. Aug 28, 2018 at 2:19
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    @Joshua - So much money was spent recruiting her? $120 is peanuts to get a mule to shoulder the risk of laundering $7k. Vetting her? The only qualification for being a mule is to be wiiling to do the job either knowingly or gullibly. Counterfeiters are willing to take a fraction of the face value in order to be at an arm's length away from distribution. Aug 28, 2018 at 4:01
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    @joshua We don't actually know she was the only one selected, that's just what the voice on the phone said. Perhaps everyone at the $100 level got a similar phone call telling them they were the lucky one. This might serve to reduce any suspicions the target might have. It isn't weird that these people are giving away so much money, I'm just lucky!
    – Eric Nolan
    Aug 29, 2018 at 14:02

2 Answers 2


If the groups fronting her the money and selling the tickets were linked, there could be some money laundering going on.

Suppose the first group was a group of criminals and the second was their 'legitimate' (but perhaps not normally profitable) business. By using the girl to transfer money across, the business can now claim that they have witnesses showing that the money was earned from an innocent party.

Then again, as Dheer says, it might be some kind of psychology experiment. For that matter, this PF&M question might be some kind of psychology experiment. :)


where a woman describes a truly bizarre series of events that occurred to her and made her think she was accidentally part of a scam

I wouldn't believe everything on YouTube. There are enough interesting videos created to increase views.

Can this be true:
To an extent yes, there are quite a few research institutions that try to understand human behavior and run similar kind of stuff. Maybe in this case it was to understand how the ticket sales would work with someone who is new. However spending around USD 720 [plus 20's for quite a few individuals] is quite a lot of spend for research. There will be very few research companies spending this kind of money on a single event / single person. There are quite a few research that spend USD 5 to 20 per person and overall 10K. And more often after the research is complete, the participants are advised that they were part of a research [more often in beginning, at time after completion]

Can this be a scam:
If so the only motive seems that you want someone who has a clean record participate in some kind of auction to book tickets on behalf of you. You can then sell the tickets in black market and make tons of money. However the efforts required to do such kind of stuff seems quite high. They could easily find friends / relatives who can participate in the scheme and get the tickets. Giving our $20 for first screening to tons of individuals is not exactly how scams operate. Plus they were not sure if this lady would show up on the specific day and buy the required tickets. It is too risky to had over 7K to someone without guarantee they will be able to buy the exact tickets that are needed.

Is the story made up:
The story is quite sketchy in some places. If the buying of tickets was auction and the date and place by invite only; then there was no checking of people and how this lady got in ... if it was public invitation; there are quite a few sporting fans and one would expect quite a few youngsters [not few people clad in suites]. Plus if the lady asked "who are you buying" and if there was a suspicion; there is no way someone will throw the cash and snatch the tickets and make a run. The ticketing counter has quite a few checks and balances. The cash is taken first, counted and then tickets handed over.

To me this looks more like some parts of real story taken and added a good deal of fiction to make it sound interesting.

  • The original question I posted to Skeptics SE was actually "can this thing even be true?" They then suggested I post here to see if it's even plausible that something like this would happen. Thanks for answering my question and not just referring me back to Skeptics SE! Aug 28, 2018 at 20:39

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