Another Warning for Joggers – Scammer Alert

Photo by PoPville flickr user philliefan99

“Dear PoPville,

I’m sure this is another one that’s been around for years, but just thought I would pass it along for any runners in the area so they could keep alert. I was leaving the food truck corral by Farragut Square around 1PM headed across K St when I saw an altercation between two men, one a runner and the other just a seemingly average pedestrian (although further inspection revealed some pretty dated, ratty clothing). Since I had actually seen them run into each other it was obvious the pedestrian jumped out in front of the runner, then accused him of running into him, causing him to drop and break his watch.

The runner was pretty fit and probably quite familiar with his route and surroundings and therefore very assertive that the other guy had jumped in front of him, so he eventually left with a “F you man”. I can only assume the goal was to coerce money out of the guy for the broken watch, unless he just really likes to fight strangers. I won’t bother getting into the race and description of the scammer, since really it could have been anyone, but thought folks might like to know about yet another thing to look out for in the city.”

31 Comment

  • Damn occupy people

  • Actually, in this case a description would be helpful. This seems to be a pretty specific “scam” and really with all of the pedestrian traffic in that area, a runner could run into someone pretty easily or at least think he/she ran into someone.

    • justinbc

      Black male, mid to late 40’s, about 6 foot tall, very thin with full facial hair and at the time wearing all brown (clothes had obviously been on for a few days, or not washed before).
      ((I submitted the OP))

      • A similar act was described as happening near the Zoo on the Cleveland Park Listserv. I believe the description of the person was similar too.

        Sounds like this guy makes his way around town.

        • justinbc

          Yeah, I regretted not taking a photo as it was going down, which is why I didn’t want to bother with another “tall, skinny, black guy” description.

  • This scam is pretty common in places like Russia and China.
    People will jump out in front of your car or bike and then demand compensation. This is one of the reasons for the popularity of dashboard cams in developing countries. Similarly, people will run into you, pretend that they dropped their already-broken camera, and then demand compensation from the “white foreigner”. I’ve seen the arguments get pretty heated in China and the tourist definitely feels intimidated when 50 Chinese pedestrians circle around to watch the confrontation.

  • I’ve heard of someone repeatedly pulling off a similar scam just a few blocks north of this. Please do post a detailed description of the scammer. I think it would help the community.

  • Never understood the people who run downtown. I guess if you live there…

    The scenery sucks. It’s crowded. Maybe more smoggy. Go to a park or tree-lined quiet neighborhood.

    I wonder what the Venn diagram of runners/outdoorsy people and those who like urban apartment living looks like. Would think there isnt much overlap.

    So nice out, gonna run around some office buildings and pedestrians

    • Well if you jog at night downtown is pretty well light and I think safer than running in some of the neighborhoods in DC

    • Some people run during breaks at work or run to/from work. If you work downtown that means you have to run downtown, at least in part.

    • I agree or ok I understand if that route is convenient still dont do it from 7-9am or 4-7pm I mean common sense people! I don’t try to run through U st or Adams Morgan on Saturday night!

      • Come with me one day as I run to or from work and you’ll see that generally the problem is not that the sidewalks are too crowded, but that people don’t always share well. There’s plenty of room on the sidewalks IF people are courteous and attentive. It’s not like all of downtown is as crowded during rush hour as U Street is on a Saturday night.

  • I really don’t get this. Does the scammer think runners normally carry wads of cash? I never have any cash on me when I’m out running.

    • I usually carry a small amount but I don’t think most runners do. Certainly not enough to replace a decent watch.

    • If it’s really hot/icy/something not good out and I’m going for a long run, I’ll bring emergency cab fare. I’ve never used it, but I did see a woman using hers to catch a cab while out for a run.
      It’s not enough to replace much of anything. I assume this guy also targets pedestrians.

    • I’ve definitely seen this guy up by the Courtyard Marriott near Farragut Square, and I’m pretty sure there was another posting about him on popville a few months back. He doesn’t just target joggers-he scams commuters, tourists, and whomever. I think he targeted the jogger because it would have been more believable that he was bumped.

      He also approaches people for change, and pulls some scam relating to that. I also missed the chance to take his photo. But, if someone does, I think it should be posted for all to see.

  • This is a Classic “Charlie-1-2”.
    Jump in front of a car (preferably a nice one) and demand their tickets to the Phillies game in exchange for not calling the cops. Oldest trick in the book.

  • “I won’t bother getting into the race and description of the scammer…”

    In other words, he was black but you just have white guilt and are too PC to say it. Got it.

  • I got the my wife is pregnant on the other side of town and i need cab fare to get to her and her to the hospital. I said nope and good luck to ya buddy, you had 9 month to plan for this so i’m sure your gonna be a great dad.

    white guy, 40’s, scruffy, skinny and dirty.

  • + 1…

    PoP, do you ever wonder what purpose these ‘scam’ posts ultimately serve? I suppose they’re useful to those easily swindled, but all too often this stuff comes off as an outlet for not-so-thinly veiled racism/classism.

    • I have to respectfully disagree on that. I think I’m usually pretty sensitive to racism/classism (or at least I try to be), but all of the “scam-alert” PoP posts I’ve read have pretty narrowly described a specific individual and their specific scam-ish behavior or m.o. And I haven’t really come across reader comments that run wild with generalizations and stereotypes about how a whole race or income-level of people are scammers. (Unlike some discussion threads about crime and housing, where I *have* seen these sentiments creep in.) I personally have been the target of scam attempts by white people, black people, and pretty much any demographic you can think of; it’s pretty universal. And yes, a lot of scam alerts come down to common sense…but still, there may be some readers who are younger or newer to the city, or whatever, and *don’t* know about some of this stuff. Plus, scammers like this rely on the likelihood that a victim will either be a) timid; or b) caught off guard, and thus more inclined to hand over money. So reminders are always useful for keeping us aware and vigilant.

    • I also disagree. These postings are enormously useful to warn us about the folks that, frankly, prey upon District residents regularly. There have been a number of folks who have been outed on these pages–the fake soldier outside Verizon center who begging for bus fare to rejoin his unit comes to mind as well. It is true that some posters can be racially insensitive if not racist, but I for one don’t think that we should stop calling out specific crimes, committed by specific people with specific descriptions, when they happen because some people in the community may jump to racist conclusions, or because others in the community fear adding to a general societal stereotype. We all have a vested interest in safety, even if some of us may be assholes or prudish about the news.

    • I too disagree.
      I encountered the scammer from Stafford (or at least claiming to be from Stafford — the one who says she’s in her first week at a new job, was in a car accident, and needs cab fare to get to Stafford) outside my work a while back, and thanks to PoPville I knew right away that it was a scam.

    • Disagree. Good to know what’s going on for yourself and to give a heads up from the out of town guests who don’t live in the city. Like the good posts, need the not so good ones.

  • There was a report in the Cleveland Park Listserv of a pedestrian matching this description who pulled same stunt on a runner near the Zoo. Jumped right in front of her after looking to see if anyone was coming.

  • I had a guy physically bump into me in Dupont Cirlce, who then dropped his “take out” food all over the sidewalk, and then tried to get me to give him money to “replace” his food, saying I ran into him. Upon further inspection, the food he dropped was just an amalgam of scraps of food probably taken out of the trash and thrown together. It was really weird and unnatural the way he tried to bump me as there wasn’t anyone else on the sidewalk. Guy was dirty and looked down on his luck shall we say..

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