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clean cut person wearing nice clothes approaches you and unfolds his tale of
woe. Often the person has luggage
or carry on bags that will add to his credibility.
You'll hear something like "I was robbed and must get to the airport. Can you drive me there or give me money for a cab." or "I'm from out of town and mistakenly thought the subway could get me to (name of distant location). I need to be there in a hurry, can you take me or lend me cab fare?
Out The Smart Way
If it is cold or dark outside, walk with the person
to a location that is warm and safe such as a nearby store or
restaurant. Do not bring the
person into your house or car unless you
feel exceptionally lucky. Remember,
your sincerity is no protection against
being robbed or carjacked.
Don't be rushed into making quick decisions.
Con artist will rattle off distracting information and make rapid suggestions to keep
you busy. Ask the person to quiet
down and let you think.
Distractions are used to keep you from
seeing the holes in their stories. Don't
be afraid to take a ten minute break and
assess the situation. If the
stranger is for real, he'll understand you’re just trying to
help him. Call a friend for
advice on how you can help this person
without giving out money or endangering your safety.
Ask the person to show some picture identification.
If he’s for real he'll
understand your concerns and won't be angry.
Anyone who doesn't have picture identification is
most likely conning you. The
most common excuses for not having such
include "I was robbed." "I have a new wallet...",
or "I left my wallet
Get the person to give you the phone numbers of at least two
other people who know him.
Write down these numbers and call
them in front of him (call collect for long distance).
Honest people have friends who will understand your reasons for calling collect and they will be glad to vouch for him.
But con artists will make excuses or give you the wrong
numbers. They know such
information could be given to the police
and used to track them down.
If a live person picks up the phone, explain the situation
and ask if this guy can be trusted.
Even if they know the name, he
could very well be an impostor. Have
them describe his race, height and hair color to see if he is
who he says he is. If you're
dealing with an answering machine, make
sure you hear the name he said would be there.
At this point, if you're not sure if he's sincere, call the
police for guidance. Let the
other person know what you intend to do
and watch his reaction. If he takes
off, describe him to the police so
he’ll never have a chance to do this to
others. Provide the police with
details about his race, height, hair and
eye color, identifying marks (if any) and
what he was wearing.
If you don't want to involve the police, consider calling a
cab and paying for his trip by credit card.
If this person is scamming you,
then all you’ve done is given him a free ride to
a place he doesn't want to go! Phone
the cab company yourself and ask if they
accept credit cards. Make the
person you're assisting step away so he
won’t hear you giving out your credit
payments should be handed directly to the driver with the
understanding that no money should be given back to the
passenger under any circumstances.
Make sure to get the cab's medallion
number and license plate. If
possible, give the driver your name and
number as well. The driver may be
needed later to identify this person.
Man Who Needs Gas
But the most common line of all is the infamous "I ran out of gas. Can you spare a few dollars so I can get back to my wife and family."
How To Help The Smart Way
scams prey upon people's honest desire to help those truly in need.
If you think the person might be sincere, here's what you can do:
Ask to see the car. If he's lying he'll tell you it's two or three
miles down the road. If he points to one nearby have him
open the doors.
Still not sure? Then get him some gas. If he's for real he'll be grateful. If
he's not, he'll be stuck with something useless.
Ask the gas station or nearby
store for a "gas can" or any container
approved for gas and fill it up. Note:
filling up a milk jug or non approved container is in most states against the
Walk the person to a nearby police station.
The police are always there to help
people in such cases. If he's conning you he'll
gone before you get there.
Scams-The Trusting Foreigner
A stranger with a thick foreign accent approaches you and asks you to hold his money and store it in a safe place. Briefly, he flashes a bag of bills which then vanish into his jacket. To gain your sympathy, he'll tell you he's been robbed or victimized.
Suddenly another "passer by" sees what's happening and warns the stranger of the perils of carrying that much cash out in the open. Then, a story is told to get you to a cash machine or so you can put your money in the bag with the stranger's. All the while, the stranger and his accomplice weave an atmosphere of tension and anxiety. They may even argue with one another to keep you off balance.
These people are con artists for sure. They will either rob you once you get to the cash machine, or take your money some other way. Politely remove yourself to a safe spot and call the police. Do not let them know what you are doing or they will run away.
If you feel bad about calling the police, ask yourself the following:
this stranger is so paranoid that he won't trust the police, why in the world does he trust me?"
could I possibly do for him that the police could not do?"
this stranger's actions appropriate given the circumstances? If
I were in a foreign country, would I act this way? "
the police if you cannot resolve each and every one of these issues.