The typical white van speaker scam involves one to three individuals, who are usually casually dressed or wearing uniforms. They drive an SUV, minivan or a commercial vehicle (usually a white commercial van, which may be rented inexpensively) that often displays a company logo. To find suitable targets, the van operators set up their con in moderately trafficked areas, such as parking lots, gas stations, colleges, or large apartment complexes. Alternatively, they may target people driving expensive cars and wave them down. The marks (victims) are usually affluent, young people, college students, or others thought to have large amounts of disposable income. The marks may also be foreigners or people who are unfamiliar with typical business transactions in Western countries.
The operators often claim that they work for an audio retailer or audio installer and that, through some sort of corporate error (warehouse operator mistake, bookkeeping mistakes, computer glitch, etc.) or due to the client changing the order after supplies were purchased, they have extra speakers. Sometimes, it is implied that the merchandise may be stolen. For varying reasons they need to dispose of the speakers quickly and are willing to get rid of them at “well below retail” prices. The con artists will repeatedly state the speaker’s “value” as anywhere between the equivalent of $1800 and $3500, prices often purportedly verified by showing a website, brochure or a magazine advertisement. Speakers are often given a fictional brand name, sometimes intentionally similar to a well-regarded speaker manufacturer in order to mislead the buyer. Some of these fictional brands have reputable-looking websites which list customer service telephone numbers and support e-mail addresses, but these methods of contact are often dead ends.