On Sunday 9/24 we were hit by the ‘Neighbor Bruce’ [Also has gone by Gene] scammer at about 9:15pm at our home just off H Street, near the new Whole Foods. He introduced himself as our neighbor ‘Doug’, provided an address for where he lived and a few names of neighbors he knew. He said his employee just dropped him off and he left his coat with his wallet, phone and keys in the backseat and asked to use our phone. I initially was skeptical and tried to turn him away, but (as con artists do…) he continued on with his narrative and convinced my husband to call a number he provided.
‘Doug’ eventually tried a few numbers, and upon my husbands prompting of whether he had spare keys, came up with an idea that he had spare house keys in his work truck on River Road in Bethesda. He could take the metro there and take a short cab ride, but he didn’t have any money and asked to borrow some. He said that he has an expensive grill in his backyard and would drag it to our house as collateral, which we of course said wasn’t necessary. We gave him $25 and he went on his way. Fortunately, we recently installed a security camera and applied for the grant through the new DC program, so three photos of ‘ Doug’ are attached. As described in prior posts on this scam, he was a white male, 6’2″, mid-50s, 180 lbs, male pattern baldness with dark grey hair on sides/back, wearing work clothes with a tie.
I realize that the readers of this blog might read this and think, “GEEZ, this scam is all over the blog and the news, why would they fall for it!”. I’m writing to today to say that while we are generally cautious of scams, we are also committed to being good neighbors to the community we have lived in for almost 7 years, and as con artists do to most people, he was able to explain away our initial skepticism in the short period of time we interacted with him. Here are some reasons why – 1) he spoke very very fast 2) he provided specifics when we questioned him about where he lived 3) he told us he worked for a catering company Ridgewells in MD (which is a real place, and one of the numbers he called was the Ridgewells Numbers – we engaged this company today to confirm that he doesn’t work there, our contact says this happens every 3-4 months) 4) he waited for us to come up with the idea of the spare keys before he came up with the idea to take the metro and cab, for which he needed money 5) his ‘collateral’ idea was insane – who would drag a grill somewhere in exchange for $25 – no one 6) he honestly played the part of a friendly neighbor who needed some help very well and in the moment, we believed him.
For us, its not so much the $25, as the feeling of being duped…hopefully this post and the pictures will help others to see through this scam in the future.”