Scam Alert – Woman Going Door to Door Looking for Donations for a “Deceased Neighbor”

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Photo by PoPville flickr user Nikoo’s Photos

“Dear PoPville,

I happened to read about this scam on Frozen Tropics the other day. Then tonight this woman showed up at my house in Brookland (2900 block of 10th St NE). So she’s certainly not sticking to the H St. area. Same description (She is an African American women, probably in her forties or fifties. She is around 5′ to 5′ 3″. She had her hair braided and pulled back into a ponytail. She wasn’t wearing glasses or any makeup) and a similar story, but this time it was someone who had lived on my block, but had been killed at the Family Dollar. Since I had just read the FT post, I simply told her no, but I wanted to send word your way since she’s apparently not isolated to the H St area anymore and may be headed elsewhere in the city.”

16 Comment

  • I knew my neighborhood had finally improved when I no longer got visitors like this.

    • I’ve run into cons like this everywhere, from sketchy urban neighborhoods to some of the nicest suburbs. Scammers will go wherever they think there might be easy marks. OK, in the tony ‘burbs, they probably don’t use that “neighbor killed at Family Dollar” hook, but still, I’ve heard all the alternatives: people collecting money for a mentoring program, a sports team, police/fire widows, a kid with a heartbreaking terminal disease, and of course the old standard “somebody stole my wallet and I’m stranded and need $X to get a bus/cab/whatever home.” My favorite part of that last one is that I’ve had more than a few grifters who were clearly banking on suburbanites being clueless about public transportation, with lines like “I need $5 for bus fare.” (Nice try when bus fare is $1.60.)

      • Yeah – a “stranded” scammer was knocking on doors in CH 2 nights ago. Worst part was that his loud knocking scared the lap-dozing kitties into clawing alarm. I was especially merciless when I answered the door with blood dripping down my legs.

      • Yeah, my grandma’s had scammers like this come to her door before and she lives out in the ‘burbs. Though the scammer then was pretending to be an exterminator. Even brought in his own bugs to show people they had an infestation! She called the police and the guy got arrested. It was ridiculous…

  • Oh she is working alright. There is a sucker born every minute and it is hard work sometimes weeding those suckers out. I mean she has to walk door to door in this oppressive heat, while I am in this cushy air-conditioned cubicle. My hat goes off to her.

  • Seems totally legit.

  • Came last year in Columbia Heights as well.

  • Is there a reportable crime here? If so, you could stall her long enough to get the police there maybe?

    • It’s not against the law to knock on someone’s door. I’ve had kids come to my house to sell tea, collect for sports events, etc. Whether or not it’s legit or not, I am much more likely to give a kid $8 for a box of bag tea than I am an adult who says they are collecting money for X. Or don’t answer the door. That’s what I do.

      • Actually, it IS against the law to collect money for a false cause. it’s called fraud. the police are very interested in this woman’s activity. if you see her, call the po-po and shut her down. she could be cheating old people out of money!

      • It’s called theft by trick. Call 911.

  • pworthy

    Now that it’s fall, the gutter-cleaning scammers will be out as well. Will knock on your door holding something they found clogging your gutter while they were working on your neighbor’s roof. For $30/40/50 he’ll clean yours out while he’s up there. He came to our door twice in a month last year.

  • We actually do this on my block. Obviously never give money to someone you don’t know but if you are new to the neighborhood don’t automatically assume that it’s a scam. It seems to be a common ritual in my community.

    • saf

      It is very common in the black community. On my block, Betty Jean is the designated person to collect these days (so many of our little old ladies are gone now. She used to share the job with Ms Culpepper, Ms Peoples, and Ms Mary.)

      Also, she only goes to the older folks now. Too many of the new folks haven’t been interested in meeting the neighbors, and of course it wouldn’t be right to try to collect from people who don’t know the families.

    • Yeah, there are a few legit ones, but it’s hard to know which. Some men (who are allegedly from a local church) come by my neighborhood a few times a year and offer to do light gardening/sweeping up leaves/clearing of spiderwebs (I’m in an English basement, so leaves gather in the area near my door) for a donation. It may be a scam in that they’re not actually from a church, but they do the work. One reason I trusted them is because they did the work after I told them I would give a donation (I gave $10 and I am lazy, so it was worth it have someone clear the leaves), but before I actually handed over the money.

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