Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Door-to-Door Grifters

I don't know if this is common around the country or just a Southern California scam. I used to see it every two or three years but we've been hit three times in just the past few months.

A young person comes to your door and engages you in conversation. They claim to be in high school but seem older. They say they are on some sort of school project that requires them to meet and talk to a lot of people. They guy yesterday claimed he was learning the art of public speaking. The conversation is engrossing, they are extremely friendly, and they are very solicitous of your opinions. They are very likeable.

Then comes the hook. They need money for a scholarship (the last guy), for a trip to Europe, for the school band, for something. They hand you this laminated piece of paper that has obviously seen many hands. It has no actual identifying information on it but there is a list of magazines on the back.

They need so many subscriptions to get that scholarship or trip and they are close. It's okay if you don't want any magazines. Buy a couple anyhow and they will donate the magazines to a nursing home or soldier overseas. If you still say no they suggest giving cash. If you keep refusing to give they turn heel and leave without a thank you or good-bye.

I've seen this many times. I've never swallowed the hook so I don't know what comes after you hand over the cash, check, or (heaven forbid) your credit card number. I suspect there is another step to the con after you identify yourself as a sucker but I've never stuck to the game long enough to see it. I did, once, almost buy into the con. The girl was cute and effervescent, it was extremely hard to refuse her.

The tells are that they are too slick - more like the Sham-Wow guy than Velma Dinkley. They always keep their connections vague. There is never a contact number or some place you can verify their story. And they ask for cash. No one legitimate (not even the March of Dimes) solicits cash door-to-door anymore.

These door-to-door grifters are a simple breed but they are good practice for the Long Con (Republican campaign politics) that is coming.

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