Dear Scooter Hacking Enthusiasts,
I desperately need your help. A certain (fluorescent orange) eScooter rental company in my city has blatantly and falsely accused me of "receiving stolen property" because according to them, "If anyone is in possession of our scooters without being rented, then certainly their stolen." -Rental Scooter Regional Operations Manager
To be very clear, I sourced ALL of my inventory through legal methods and i swear this on my wife, and my honor as an eScooter enthusiast, and member of the scooter hacking community. I am a father of 3, I don't have a criminal record (outside of speeding tickets, improper lane changes, or driving with an expired lic.). I swear this to be true- with my right foot on my flashed Max G30, my left foot on my flashed ES4, and I have NEVER used scooterhacking.org for purposes of rental scooter theft. And my scooters are more important to me than any bible..
Here's the backstory (and I promise to keep it as short as possible):
I started a small side hustle trying to earn a little scratch last October (after a failed attempt at Bird charging) offering to flash Segway Ninebots ES1-4 and Max eScooters for people who I knew were buying them from impound auctions, wholesale sites, and even retail places like Wal-Mart, Amazon, etc.. I bought the ST-Link, I trained myself to use it, I knew how to solder already, and I'm a broke struggling family man worried about the upcoming holiday calendar. So I set out to advertise using the local classifieds offering my flashing services as well as custom paint jobs, and general repair to other Ninebot owners.
Apparently, our orange colored rental fleet regional operator has a hard-on for catching scooter thieves and bringing them to justice. I guess he didn't like that I knew how to fix, and flash and even customize eScooters. I believe this man is dangerous, as I have caught him and his affiliates on my security camera watching my house.. -more on this later.
One week in Nov, I managed to buy 2 SNSC scooters the owner had stated were from an auction in L.A.. I wanted to fix, flash, and flip these so I could buy more. That was essentially my hustle. I painted and advertised the scooters as being for sale. I posted using the local classifieds and sold them quick. Through those original 2 SNSC, I managed to get very interested people who wanted my services. My issue then was that I needed inventory to flip. So I made a "ISO" or "In Search Of" ad looking for more broken, non-working ES1-4 so I could refurbish and sell them. I keep busy doing this through the holidays.
Fast forward to Jan 8 (approx) when I realize that I need more chargers to include with my finished scooters. Being a former Bird charger, I already gave away the original 3 they sent me. I decide to ask other current and former Bird chargers if they were selling surplus chargers so I could buy them and include them with my finished scooters. I make a "ISO chargers" post in my local Bird Chargers Fb Group. I received a few replies for $10-$15 bucks ea. but one stood out: "I have tons of em $5 ea!" Immediately I replied to this person.
After several direct messages he finally gives me an address and without hesitation- I'm off.. (this is where things get interesting)
I show up at the address he provided and sent him a text "I'm pretty sure I'm here" and he steps out the door of this industrial warehouse building and waves me over. After I park and follow him inside, I suddenly notice he has a friend with him and a camera setup recording me. He goes on to introduce himself- "I'm So and So the Regional Operations Manager for Orange Color Rental Scooters and based on your classified ads, I believe that you are stealing my rental scooters from the street and selling them online"
Guys, I shit you not my jaw dropped...and I laughed.
He went on to say- "I have been looking into you, and i think you are the No 2 scooter hacker here in town." I'm still speechless at this point. I didn't expect to be ambushed or accused for something I very seriously would not do.
Still speechless, all I could say was "well your'e wrong."
Still stunned, I managed to get my thoughts together, and get defensive; "I buy my scooters from auctions, people online, and have even had a couple people trade me parts and scooters for custom work and flashing."
We go back and forth like this for a bit and suddenly it dawns on me "I've just been accused, AND theres no chargers I can buy!?"
I get pissed off and tell him "thanks for wasting my time" and I leave.
Fast forward to May 2020, COVID is in full swing, Wife laid off, cash is tight, but I have supplemental income doing scooters for people. My stimulus money comes in, so I decide to purchase a couple Max Scooters and a few SNSC from someone I met in the Bird Chargers forum on Fb. I basically spend my ENTIRE stimulus on SNSC, G30 and accessories ie; external batteries, dashboards, grips, etc..
3 days later, I'm driving to my grandparents where my workshop is located (cuz my garage was a storage unit) and right when I pulled into the neighborhood I see a orange rental scooter. Knowing it was way outside of its operating area (I'm sure we've all seen this from time to time) I think to myself, "meh, workshop is a block away, I can call them to pick it up, or take it with me when I go home."
Guys- this is where being kind bit me in the ass.
Since I live downtown within the 3 rental fleets normal boundaries, taking it home with me that night would've been no problem, and I'm sure no one would've noticed -especially not my neighbors since I would've spared them from any loud alarms. With my (Grandparents) neighbors in mind, I stick a piece of masking tape over the speaker to deaden the sound and wheel it over to my Grandparents house and stick it out front of the garage (so if rental co decides they want it before I bring it back, they can easily get it).
After a busy day in the shop, my wife and I decide to stay the night there- and go home in the morning.
The next day, I wake up to pounding on my door, 7 cop cars outside, and Mr Regional Ops Manager and 2 of his vans with employees all in front of my house, including all the curious neighbors scattered around.. It was a goddamn CIRCUS.
Apparently, the GPS tag brought Mr Ops Manager right to my shop (which I had no idea he'd been looking for) and obviously, I know they're tagged (which is why I left it where they could grab it) but what I didn't know is that this dude would tell the local PD that I'm some big scooter hacker (without any evidence to back it up) and that the cops would take his word for it.
Cops decide to detain me- even though I offered my receipts and bills of sale several times, they start questioning my wife - who is hysterical at this point, they somehow get a search warrant (I can go into detail about this in the comments if anyone is curious) and decide to allow orange rental fleet employee inside my shop where he cherry-picks everything he decides might have been owned or carried by them at any point in time. The weird part is, the cops don't take anything into evidence. They take pics and give everything to orange rental fleet employee. They charge me with receiving stolen property and take me to jail. I make bail and go home the next day.
Now, I can't afford to retain a real lawyer just yet. My stimulus is gone and I haven't received my tax return yet (this is another story).
But I have done some research about my accuser (Mr Regional Ops Manager)- turns out he has 7 arrests pertaining to theft. The one lawyer I did talk to (friend of the family -doesn't handle criminal stuff) suggests that even tho I may not have kept the best records for where I acquired my inventory- all I need to do is prove that they have been auctioned all over the U.S. and that should be enough to get the charges dropped. This is where all of you, my friends here at scooterhacking can help.
Please DM me, or email me with whatever places you have purchased auction scooters in the past. Please help out a fellow hacking enthusiast and keep rental companies from dragging or names through the mud.
I thank all of you especially Lothean and everyone here who does good work keeping up this site.
friend & fellow eScooter hacking enthusiast
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