Here is a follow-up to Sara's earlier post about a scammer who has recently made the rounds in Bloomingdale and LeDroit Park.
Other area residents have reported their encounters with this same person.
== Scott Roberts, Bloomingdale list moderator ==
See this 4/24/2008 message from a resident of 1st Street NW near the McMillan Sand Filtration site:
"We had a sketchy dude knock on our door at MIDNIGHT last night. He was the passenger in a beat up, white, 80's era van, like a chevy or dodge. He started by saying he and his wife, who was a doctor, drove from Tulsa Oklahoma and recited a
phone number, etc. He said they were moving in down the street and needed money to square something with the police. I asked where he was moving. He pointed south and said 2507, in the condo. He was pointing the wrong way. I should have called the cops. He may have been casing the joint. The dogs were looking at him and he asked if they were friendly. I told him they were trained to tackle and subdue on command. Description: Male, black, thin, medium height, (approx 5'6", 135), articulate, improbable. Opened my gate, knocked on my front door twice at midnight while his companion, whom I didn't see, sat in the driver's seat of the van parked in front of the hydrant. I really should have called the cops."
See these responses:
a) From a Flagler Place NW resident:
I think I encountered the same man on Flagler during the day last week. He too was saying that he was my new neighbor and was from Tulsa, Oklahoma. He drove for two days straight. His rental-moving van broke down just outside DC and he needed $15 to pay for the ticket he got from the cops, otherwise they were going to tow him. There was no van with him at the time. He looked very believable and distressed, though I was suspicious and did not give him any money. In addition to his description, I would add that he was missing a few teeth in the front. If you are approached by him, call the police immediately!
b) From a Thomas Street NW resident:
The same guy approached me and my wife on Thomas st. with the story that he and his wife had just come from Tulsa and were moving onto 2nd st. but their car had broken down near the McDonald's on Georgia Ave. I
got a little in his face and he insisted that it wasn't money he wanted but a phone book so he could call for a tow. Last time we saw him was a few days ago at Simons. Sketchy is right!
c) From a resident of the 1900 block of 1st Street NW:
Regarding the sketchy dude, I too encountered him in the neighborhood while I was out walking my dog late one night last week. I didn't see a car or truck, he was walking and approached me on the sidewalk, but he had a similar, very elaborate, detailed story to explain that he needed a few dollars.
d) Some tea-and-sympathy from a Franklin Street NE resident:
Strangers in the Night: It's getting really scary in Bloomingdale with strangers knocking on doors late at night. Calling the police won't help. Perhaps opening the door with an AK-47 might be a deterrent. I read that a group in Ohio, started an armed patrol. First they posted signs of warning. Needless to say, they've not had to shoot anyone because the signs said it all. Maybe Bloomingdale should do likewise. I feel badly about the problems over there.
e) From a 1st Street NW condo resident:
Regarding the "sketchy dude" from Tulsa was around pulling the same story last weekend. After I spoke to him on our condo buildings call box and did not offer him any help, he went off knocking at other houses very randomly. If he returns, I will call the police.
f) From a Bryant Street NW resident:
Shakedown artist in Bloomingdale --- we live on Bryant Street NW near McMillan and had a similar incident a few weeks ago. A man fitting the same description came to our house around 9 p.m. and spun a tale about a car accident involving his aunt, whom he said lived a few doors down from us. He wanted us to lend him cab fare to Sibley Hospital, not to get to the
hospital but to bring his aunt home. He said his aunt asked for us specifically and told him to assure us that she would repay us. Nothing about his story added up. We had no idea who this fictitious aunt was and we sent the guy away. He disappeared pretty quickly down 1st Street NW on foot and we never saw a vehicle. We had similar scams tried on us when we lived on the Hill. Makes you want to keep your doors closed to people who may in fact have a legitimate emergency and need help. It's a shame.
g) From a LeDroit Park resident on the 500 block of Florida Avenue NW:
On Monday morning (4/21/2008), that same guy caught me as I was leaving my house on the way to work. He gave me a very similar story about him--a pastor--and his pediatrician wife (who was about to start work at Howard U. Hospital) having just drove in from Tulsa, seventeen hours straight. The first question out of his mouth was, "Please tell me I haven't moved my family to a bad neighborhood!" He then launched into a story about his van breaking down (with his wife and all their furniture in it) by the McDonalds on Georgia. The police called a tow truck who wouldn't take credit cards and was charging him $130-something cash. He just needed $17 more in cash, could I please help out, and he would pay me back by leaving the cash in my mailbox later that day. I know it was naive of me, and a big part of me didn't believe him--but that he started out the conversation asking if the neighborhood was bad . . . well, I thought that if the story WAS true, maybe I could make him feel better about moving here by being a gracious neighbor. Of course, when the money didn't appear after a few days, I knew I had been taken. Lesson unfortunately learned.