[Reprinted from The Richmond Police Station Newsletter of October 17, 2014. To be added to the station's mailing list, email firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Don’t Get Taken by Con ArtIsts
Con Artists are persuasive and persistent. The schemes described here have many variations, but they all have the same goal:
GAINING YOUR CONFIDENCE AND TAKING YOUR MONEY
This information is provided to help you identify fraudulent schemes; ways to avoid becoming a victim and whom to call if you believe you have been swindled by a con artist.
Earthquake Relief Fund:
This scam involves receiving a phone call from the suspect who identifies himself as calling from an official government office in San Francisco. The caller solicits donations for the “Earthquake Relief Fund”. There has been a recent reporting in these crimes occurring in the Asian community.
This scam involves receiving a phone call from a suspect pretending to be a “grandchild” in distress. The suspect says that they are in Mexico (or another country) and in trouble. They ask the elder to wire them money, often through Western Union. Although employees at Western Union have tried to dissuade the seniors from sending the money, these employees are rarely believed.
This scam usually involves 2-3 suspects working together to con you into believing they have found money, diamonds, gold bars, etc. They want to share it with you, but someone must hold the found item for a while before splitting it. You are convinced to withdraw ‘good faith’ money from your bank account to be combined with the suspect’s good faith money in a bag or handkerchief. The suspects switch the bag or handkerchief and disappear. They leave you with nothing but torn paper.
Very similar to Pigeon Drop, but with a slight variation: You are approached by suspect-one who claims to have recently come to America with a large amount of cash to be delivered to a church or a charity. Suspect-one then says he must leave the country soon and asks you & suspect-two to deliver the money for him. You are asked to put up ‘good faith’ money to show you are honest. Suspects switch the money and disappear.
This suspect approaches you or may call you on the phone claiming to be a police officer that is investigating a bank employee for embezzlement. You are asked to go to your bank and withdraw cash so the officer can watch the bank employee. You are told to give the money to a “detective” who will return it to the bank for you. The suspects disappear with your money.
This scam often involves an elderly man (70+) who is befriended by a young woman. She convinces him that she truly cares about him and implies a romantic interest. She tells him she needs money for rent, food, furniture, and her business or that she needs surgery. She may swindle him out of his life savings, often causing him to file bankruptcy.
You may be approached at stores, hotels, restaurants, etc. or when you go to a ‘psychic reader.’ The psychic convinces you that you have an evil curse or evil spirits that must be ‘cleansed.’ Cleansing is an ongoing process that requires you to pay thousands of dollars in cash, jewelry, clothing, vehicles, etc.
Lost Pet or Lost Property:
You place an ad in a local paper about a lost pet or lost property. You then receive a call from a long-haul truck driver who found your missing item but he is now hundreds of miles away. He will return your property (or advise of the location of your pet) after you send a “reward” by Western Union.
A ‘police officer’ calls you to advise he found your purse (often before you realize it is missing or have reported it). The ‘officer’ needs your personal information for his report. You, believing a police report is being taken, provide your information and take no further action.
Both incoming and outgoing mail may be taken from your mailbox. Your checks are ‘washed’ to remove payee and amount and altered so the suspect can cash them for more money. Your ATM and credit card numbers are picked up from your bills and used for purchases. Your credit card applications are taken and altered so the suspect receives a credit card in your name.
These suspects go door-to-door offering you a great deal on yard work, roof repair, chimney sweeping, house painting, etc. They may have ‘extra’ supplies left over from their last job so they can save you money. At the completion of the work they claim they used more supplies or there was more work than anticipated so they demand more money from you. They can be very intimidating.
These suspects can include women with children. A suspect comes to your home and engages you in conversation while other (unseen) suspects enter your house through another door and take cash and property.
A suspect comes to your house claiming to be from a City or County agency or a utility company employee. He needs to come into your house to check for problems. Once inside your house, the suspect distracts you and takes cash and valuables.
You receive a call from someone who says you have won a Canadian sweepstakes, but you must pay Canadian taxes before the winnings can be claimed. You are told to send a cashier’s check or wire money via Western Union to them in Canada.
Purchase of Lottery Tickets:
You receive mail or calls from a company ‘representative’ who will purchase lottery tickets in another state for you (usually Florida) and send you photo copies of your tickets. (They keep the originals so they can collect for you if you win.) You may write them monthly checks, allow them to debit your checking account or provide them with credit card numbers so they can purchase lottery tickets for you on a weekly basis.
WHAT CAN I DO TO PROTECT MYSELF?
One of the biggest problems facing law enforcement in identifying and apprehending con artists is that the victims are reluctant to report the crime because of embarrassment. This is what the con artists count on. Don’t help them get away with their crime.
MAKE A REPORT
The only way we can stop these criminals is if you report it. You weren’t their first victim and you won’t be their last!
WHO DO I CALL?
San Francisco Police Department: Emergency 9-1-1; Non-Emergency (415) 553-0123
Postal Inspector (Mail Theft): (415) 778-5900
Contractor’s License Board – Home Repair Fraud: (800) 321-2752
Find out more at: www.scambusters.org | www.fraud.org | www.truthorfiction.com | www.urbanlegends.miningco.com
Do-Not-Call: You can register your telephone number at www.donotcall.gov or (888) 382-1222 for the Do Not Call list. This should stop telemarketers and telephone solicitations.
Financial Crimes Unit: 415-553-1521
Officer Juan Gomez: 415-553-7311
NOTEWORTHY ARRESTS & INCIDENTS
On 10/09/14, at 4:00 am, Officers responded to the area of Washington St. and Divisadero St. regarding a reported fire. On arrival at the scene SFFD was able to determine that the fire was arson and not an accident. The SFPD arson unit was notified and the investigation continues…
On 10/09/2014, at 8:57 am, Officers responded to the area of 2nd and California St. regarding multiple complaints of a male being a problem. On arrival at the scene the officers contacted the male, who when asked was unable to provide identification. The male told the officers that when he had last been released from jail his identification was not returned. The male told the officers that there was probably a warrant for his arrest somewhere. The officers conducted a computer query and confirmed the outstanding warrant.
On 10/10/2014, at 8:15 am, Officers responded to the area of 9th Ave and Geary regarding a report of an auto burglary. Officers who responded found the husband of the victim in this incident had detained the culprit prior to their arrival. The victim had earlier exited her house and observed the male sitting in her truck going through the cab. When the female victim started to scream, the suspect was alerted and fled on foot. The husband chased the suspect down after hearing his wife scream. A computer check revealed that the suspect was on active probation for burglary. The suspect was booked at county jail.
On 10/12/2014, at 9:45 am, a male walking in the area of 5th and Geary was approached by a suspect with a handgun who demanded he empty his pockets. The victim in this incident was compiling when the suspect reached into his pocket and removed in excess of $1600.00 in U.S. Currency. The suspect fled towards a waiting motorcycle which was being driven by a second suspect who sped away west on Geary Blvd. The victim in this incident was not injured. The investigation continues…
On 10/13/2014, at 4:37 pm, Officers on patrol in the area of Spruce and Geary observed a vehicle with an expired registration. The officers initiated a traffic stop and contacted the driver. A computer query revealed that the driver was driving while never having had a license issued to him. The driver was cited for both violations.
On 10/13/2014, at 10:51 pm, Officers on patrol in the area of Fulton and Arguello observed a vehicle with an expired registration. The officers initiated a traffic stop and contacted the driver. A computer query revealed that the driver was suspended/revoked. The driver was cited for both violations.
On 10/13/2014, at 2:11 pm, Officers responded to the area of Anza and 32nd Ave. regarding a reported robbery in the area. The victim was on her way home from school when she was approached by two females who attempted to grab her phone. In the struggle to retain her phone the victim was pushed to the ground. At this time on of the females produced a knife and said “give it up bitch.” The victim complied and released her phone. The victim in this incident was not injured and refused any medical attention. The investigation into this incident continues…
On 10/13/2014, at 11:06 pm, Officers on patrol in the area of US101 and the Park Presidio transition ramp observed a vehicle driving with no headlights activated. The Officers followed the vehicle and initiated a traffic stop in the area of Park Presidio and 14th Ave. The officers contacted the female driver who was showing the objective signs of driving under the influence. The officers conducted standard a battery of standard field sobriety tests which resulted in the female driver being arrested. The driver was booked into the county jail for DUI.
On 10/14/2014, at 1:14 pm, Officers on patrol in the area of Anza and Arguello observed a vehicle which was displaying expired registration. The officers initiated a traffic stop regarding the violation and contacted the driver. A computer check revealed that the driver was suspended from driving and was also unable to produce any proof of insurance. The driver was cited for multiple violations.
On 10/15/2014, at 10:59 am, Officers on patrol in the area of Geary and 11th Ave. contacted a male who was known to them through numerous prior contacts. The Male started yelling at the officers and was in possession of a variety of items which he claimed were not his. A computer check revealed that the male had multiple outstanding warrants for his arrest. The male was taken into custody without further incident and booked in to county jail on the warrants.
On 10/15/2014, at 5:29 pm, Officers on patrol in Golden Gate Park observed a vehicle fail to stop at a posted stop sign. The officers initiated a traffic stop and contacted the driver. A computer check revealed that the driver was suspended from driving. The driver was also unable to produce any current insurance and was then cite4d for multiple violations.
5:40 pm | Posted under Crime
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