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From the Forum – Beware of Scam

by Prince Of Petworth March 21, 2014 at 2:15 pm 34 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user grit and whatever

Beware of Scam:

“This is embarrassing because I should have known better but…. A 50-55 year old weathered face, 5’5″ light-skinned man without an accent, wearing work clothes, including a wool hat and red/tan scarf came to our door (Keefer Pl) saying that he was working on our neighbors construction project and noticed that our gutters needed clearing out and screens (which they do) and he and his “Mexican guys working up on the roof” could take care of that for us for $45+tip. He looked at our backyard, he supposedly phoned the guys on the roof, said that he preferred cash to the check we offered. And I gave him the $$ before confirming the job was done. He said he had to go pick up his grandkids and would be back to bring by a biz card cuz “He wanted our business.” Needless to say, no clean gutters, no biz card, no come back, no $$. Made a couple of rookie mistakes but willing to embarrass myself if keeps others from having the same problem. Local police “notebooked” it (i.e., civil case is out of their jurisdiction as this was not robbery but a “breach of contract.”)”

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  • Bloomer

    So some random guy essentially told you he would clean your gutters, told you he only accepted cash, looked shady, and you still believed him and gave him cash up front? Genius.

    • Anonymous

      People should be required to live in NYC for at least one year.

      • Anonymous

        so they could get really ripped off?

    • Phoebe

      Come on, they’ve owned up to it.

    • Anon

      They owned up to it, jerk.

    • L

      God forbid a trusting individual sheepishly alerts others to the mistake he made so as to save them from the same misfortune. That’s messed up that you feel high and mighty insulting someone who misjudged his fellow man as being a better person than he actually was.

    • Curious Tourist

      Of course this is the same forum where, not too long ago, when people complained about others not shoveling their snow, posts were made encouraging other people to hire people who knocked on their doors offering to shovel their walkways.
      I appreciate the post. If it even saves one person the hassle of being duped, that’s a good thing. At the same time, there are legitimate folks who are willing to work for cash doing things like yardwork and odd jobs. It all comes down to knowing your neighbors, trusting your instincts, and deciding what your own tolerance for risk might be.

      • Anonymous

        But with the snow-shovelers, you pay them after they shovel. Also this exact scam was discussed on this blog a few years ago.

    • Guy Jones

      I guess you’ve never been a the victim of a fraud, you’re far too smart for that. You are so astute and so aware and so savvy that nothing bad in life has happened to you, nor will it ever will. You see all the angles, have all the answers, and pass speedy, objective judgment on others.

      You should write a book; you might have some real wisdom to offer people, judging by this pearl of insight that you’ve offered up, here.

  • N.

    Not sure if this qualifies as a scam…seems like OP realized that it was stupid. Doesn’t really seem like there was much cunning involved here.

    • N.

      “From the Forum – Beware of the Giving Money to Complete Strangers for Goods/Services That Were Not Verified to be Delivered/Rendered In the Agreed Upon Manner”

  • M

    Good lord, the OP admitted to his mistake and is just trying to help people, give them a break, people!

    Thanks for the reminder that anyone can easily get scammed, OP, sucks that it happened to you.

    • +10

    • textdoc

      +1. I think posts like this are helpful, especially for people who are new to PoPville and/or might have missed past scam-related posts.

    • N.

      Not trying to be a dick here; I just think it was a question of whether this was valuable enough advice to draft an email to share with the community email. Seems fairly commonsensical. “Hey PoP, I was running with my headphones in and stupidly crossed an intersection without looking thoroughly and nearly got hit by a car. Just wanted to put out a PSA that people should probably pay attention when running across the street.”

      • Anonymous

        Ugh, just go away! You sound like such a jerk with no patience for your fellow human beings.

        • Anonymous

          you go away

  • Mike

    They’ve been doing this for years. I can’t believe the cops haven’t caught this guy yet. If he comes to my house, I’m going to keep him on the line for few minutes and call the cops. I hope others do the same.

    • Anonymous

      What good is that going to do? It sounds like the cops can’t arrest him since this is actually considered breach of contract. If the cops show up, all he says is “Oh, I’m about to start cleaning” or he just give back the money (no harm, no foul).
      I got to admire the hustle; this is agrey area of the law this guy is exploiting. A K Street lobbying firm should hire him and get him off the street.

      • Anonymous

        Good lord, I hate people who say things like “I admire the hustle” almost as much as I hate people who cheat and swindle.

      • dat

        This is not a “gray” area of the law.

        This guy is engaging in criminal fraud and could be arrested and charged.

        • Guy Jones

          Yeah, the cop needs a lesson in criminal statutes 101. This is criminal, not civil, fraud. I’m sure the D.C. Criminal Code contains an entry for fraud and confidence games.

    • mona

      Don’t think it is one guy. Think lots of people pulling this one.

  • MRD

    Light-skinned black or Hispanic man?

  • Anonymous

    There was a whole thread about this scam a few months ago. Someone with better PoP search skills than me might be able to turn it up, but as I recall a lot of people reading the blog had fallen for it.

  • jf

    i don’t open my door if a stranger calls on me.

  • Anonymous

    He was here (in Columbia Heights/Petworth) last year — and if I had to categorize, I’d say he was a Traveler.

  • Anonymous

    Some people are just wired differently. While I enjoy the services of door-to-door handy types (to shovel or mow or whatever), I would never pay up front. I never stop to listen to the pitch of the charity muggers. Never buy candy to support the marching band.
    My husband, though…. he always donates $1 at checkout. He pays the not-quite-girl-scouts up front for those cookies they’re going to deliver in 4-to-6 weeks. And he’s not ever upset when it turns out to be a scam. He just figures they needed it more than he did and moves on.

  • Anonymous

    Not everyone is a scam artist! I live in the 14th / U street area with two other girls in their mid-twenties. A man named Jimmy came to our door about a year ago and offered to help clean up our front and back yard. We’ve known him for a while now, and while he frequently disappears for a few weeks, he always comes back offering to help. In the year that we’ve known him, he’s sodded our grass, purchased tiki torches, cut our bushes, and helped with general yard maintenance. He usually asks for money, $15 or so each time – sometimes asking before he performs the work, and other times asking after. He always does what he promises / says he will do, even if it isn’t right away.
    Sure, we understand that you can’t trust everyone, but we do realize that he probably just needs the money a little but more than we do.

  • Guy Jones



    And, the cop who told the victim that this was a “civil” matter really doesn’t believe that the scam that transpired here was a criminal offense? The dude is either not the sharpest tool in the shed, or, doesn’t want to file a report on a Friday. Very disturbing.


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