The History of the White Van Speaker Scam

This has happened to me a couple of times. I’m heading back to my car in a shopping mall parking lot when a van pulls up next to me. A guy jumps out and says “Buddy, can you help me out? I’ve got a truck full of speakers that someone ordered and they won’t take delivery. I need to get rid of them so I’m selling them at cost. They’re really good.” You look inside and see a stack of boxes from what appears to be major brand new manufacturers.  The deal seems impossibly good.  ”

“Want a pair?”

I know a couple of people who have fallen for the sales pitch. When they hand over the money–the amount varies–they end up with either (a) cheap speaker enclosures with super-substandard components; or (b) a box of rocks.

This is the classic “white van speaker scam.” It’s been going on almost as long as guys have been trading cows for magic beans. Digital Trends takes a look.

You walk out of Home Depot with a new faucet for that bathroom project you’ve been putting off, and as you head to your car, two guys in a windowless van roll up. At this point, your instincts should tell you that nothing good could come of the situation, but then the friendly guy behind the wheel tells you he’s got the deal of the century for you. Suddenly, you can’t help but take a closer look at what might be a potential steal to be had.

We feel for you if you’ve fallen for the scam, but the fact is, you no longer have any excuse with today’s technology being what it is. You have a lengthy Wikipedia entry on the subject and dozens of caught-in-the-act videos on YouTube at your disposal, not to mention a general cavalcade of consumers on forums, blogs, and watchdog sites, all ready to warn you about what’s become known as the white van speaker scam. Yet, as you read this, someone, somewhere, is falling victim to the hoax.

The white van speaker scam is a global phenomenon. According to Scam Shield, the scam is currently active in 24 cities, four countries, and three continents. It subsists because of the avarice of those who conceived of it, the cunning of those who sell it, and, most of all, the ignorance of those it ensnares. Fortunately, a little information can go a long way in helping you see the scam for what it truly is.

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “The History of the White Van Speaker Scam

  • August 31, 2015 at 11:22 am

    Kind of surprising this scam is still going . Who’s buying speakers these days?


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