Story time! Let’s fire up the time machine and take a look at a younger DJ Roodz. I was about 18 or 19, I was playing gigs left and right, and I had a couple extra bucks in my pocket. So, I did what any DJ would do, and I fed my gear addiction: I wanted a complete vinyl setup.
I still had my Numark M6 mixer from my CDJ days, so all I needed was two turntables and a Serato interface. Serato had just announced the supported hardware for their new DJ software. The SL1 wouldn’t be compatible, so people were selling theirs like hotcakes in an effort to trade up. I figured I could get a steal on one and just use the older Scratch Live software.
I found a guy on Facebook willing to let one go for cheap, so two hours later, my two roommates and I hopped in my car and met with the guy at a gas station parking lot. The guy was legit, the transaction was smooth, and we parted ways like ships in the night.
Sounds easy enough, right? Here’s where the story gets interesting.
The next weekend I had planned to meet up with another guy to get my “new” decks. Again, I contacted him on Facebook. He was offering to sell me a pair of turntables for $200. With cases. And needles. And slip mats. And 4 vinyls. What. A. Steal.
I should’ve known it was too good to be true.
This guy wasn’t super responsive to Facebook messages, but he did send a couple of pictures and was more than ready to get rid of the gear. He also wasn’t really willing to travel – I had to meet him at his place. I really didn’t think twice about it. I was getting the deal of a lifetime. The next day, two friends and I were en route to Brooklyn, cash in hand.
We pulled up in a pretty sketchy neighborhood. The building on the corner had boarded up windows. The streets were quiet and empty, save for one guy hanging around, minding his own business. Everything felt a little…run down. I approached the guy on the street with a smile. The seller was expecting me. This had to be him.
“Hey man! You Nick?” The guy didn’t really look my way, until I got closer and repeated myself.
He leaned in. “Who’s Nick, bro? You need somethin’? You tryin’ to get some bud?”
I froze. Then, all the alarm bells went off in my head.
“Look, I’m just trying to get here,” I showed him the address, and after he pointed out the building, we went our merry way.
I had no idea he was following us until about ten or fifteen minutes later, when my friend muscled up to him with a gruff “We’re good, bro.” He turned and walked away, until he was out of sight.
Five minutes passed…
The seller on Facebook kept us waiting for over a half hour on his stoop. Three phone calls later, he finally let us in…to the apartment building’s hallway. I was definitely more aware of my surroundings at this point and couldn’t help but notice the mail. It was addressed “Protected Mail: (some name that wasn’t what he told me it was).” Was this dude in WITSEC? Needless to say, we checked out the decks, handed the cash over, and hightailed it out of there.
Sometimes, a deal can be too good to be true. Looking back, I let my excitement take over and completely wipe away my commen sense. We all see the evening news reporting “Craigslist Killers” every other day, and to be honest I consider myself so lucky that I’m still here to write this story.
So, to all the DJs that are buying secondhand gear online, make sure you follow these few guidelines:
- Arrange to meet up in public places.
- Take a buddy or two.
- Get as much information about the seller/item beforehand as possible (pictures, why they’re selling, etc)
- Print up a receipt of sale for you two to sign as the exchange is being made. Make sure every party has a copy.
- Use your street smarts/common sense: if it’s too good to be true, there’s more than a good chance it is.
Have you ever been in a crazy situation like this one? Let me know in the comments!
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