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If there is a sure way to triple your money in less than a week, buying a PlayStation 3 could be it.

At least that’s what thousands of enterprising console scalpers hope.

Supplies of two highly anticipated game consoles — Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Nintendo’s Wii — have fallen well short of demand. As a result, the market prices for the systems, especially the PS3, are more than double the retail price in some places.

“I think this is a classic case of supply and demand coupled with a ridiculous amount of hype,” Ryan Christianson, who has advertised a PS3 in the Stars and Stripes classifieds for $2,500 or best offer, wrote in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes on Tuesday. The retail price for a PS3 is between $499 and $599 depending on the model.

Christianson’s brother-in-law, a college student, waited outside a Best Buy in Harrisburg, Pa., for three days to get his hands on the console, and Christianson is selling it for him.

He doesn’t expect to get the full asking price, but “I am in no hurry to sell it, so I’ll just take the best offer when it comes,” Christianson wrote.

The lowest asking price for two other PS3 consoles for sale in Stars and Stripes’ classifieds is $1,500. A single Wii console is listed with a price of $500. The retail price for a Wii is $250.

Craigslist, an online classified site, has 20-gigabyte PS3 consoles listed for as little as $675 — $176 more than retail — but that’s in New York. In Frankfurt, Germany, the cheapest PS3 listed has an asking price of 1,100 euros, or about $1,500.

But money isn’t all these entrepreneurs are looking for.

One Craigslist posting proposed to swap a 60-gigabyte PS3 for $3,000 or a “half pound of some great bud … haze and better pleez.” Another wanted to barter for a 40-inch or larger LCD television with a high-definition multimedia interface.

Perhaps the most unorthodox opportunist wrote in his Craigslist ad, “Feel free to offer anything you think might catch my attention.” Among possible swap ideas in the ad was, “A date with a daughter, cousin, sister (I am in my 20’s so a little older or younger 18-26 or thereabouts) and the opportunity to purchase the PS3 at cost … just for kicks.”

Though demand for the inflated consoles is still high, those willing to pillage their wallets for them are relatively few.

“So far I haven’t had any legitimate offers to buy it, only spammers who are looking to scam unwitting sellers,” wrote Christianson. “The real die-hard PS3 fans were the ones in line to buy them on November 17th. Those that are willing to pay the premium after the fact are more likely parents trying to satisfy their children.”

Sgt. Brian Crump, a member of the 32nd Signal Battalion, has no plans to pay a premium for a PS3, though he wants one. Crump has waited through the numerous PS3 launch delays and didn’t flinch when Microsoft delivered its Xbox 360 last year. “I’ve been holding out,” he said, adding he has no intention of spending more than $600. He’ll just wait a little longer.

“I don’t think there is any reason for anyone to be angry with my price because I’m just trying to capitalize on an opportunity,” Christianson wrote. “They can always offer a lower price, and I’ll consider it.”

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