Scam Artists Back; Currently Working Orinda

Fast-talking scam artists are spinning their yarns on doorsteps in Lamorinda. Don't fall for it.


We've written about these guys more often than we can remember but they keep coming back and people keep falling for their patter -- which may explain why they keep coming back.

The following is from "Sandy," a Patcher whose last name we're holding back for her security:

"I live in Orinda and just turned away a lady who rang my doorbell.  She claimed to be a student from UC Berkeley, practicing her public speaking skills and gathering points and money for a trip to San Diego.  She showed me a pass (or rather, a piece of paper in a plastic holder) that is supposedly a UC Berkeley student pass (it wasn't).  She had cigarette breath and cigarette-stained teeth and a nose-pin.  She claimed that many of my neighbors have signed up for books from her already, and all except for 1 family chose to pay for the books but have the books sent to Children's Hospital directly instead of getting it at their home.  I told her that we are already involved with other charities  and politely turned her away."

Sandy was wise to do so. Groups of these folks are currently working Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill and they cruise through Lamorinda from time to time, usually brought to the area by groups who feed them a bogus story to repeat to unsuspecting homeowners.

We've heard a million different variations of the con, but there's always the same "hook."

"We have driven by your home a million times but keep wondering who lives here," or the time-honored "we just live up the street, you know us, my mom walks the Golden Labrador up your street every morning."

If you are brave enough to have some fun with these people and you want to see an interesting shade of pale, play along with the game and say: "Yes? How is your mom? You know, I haven't seen her in a while... Let's go see her now!"

This, of course, is not recommended.

These people don't like to have their stories challenged and, of course, they're here to build an instant familiarization and get your money.

Don't do it. Thanks, Sandy.

Sylvia March 13, 2012 at 01:13 AM
Just had an encounter with a pair of "youts" who fit this description, casing Fernwood Dr. in Moraga. They are looking a bit too closely at the homes through windows for my taste. Suggested our PD check them out. About 22, on foot, caucasian, one shortish, with brown hair and taller blond guy.
TMoraga March 13, 2012 at 01:30 AM
I've seen Moraga PD stop and ask them to leave town a few times now. They need permits to do door to door solicitations giving the PD the leverage they need to ask them to leave. I try not to open the door when they do come but some times I do and it helps to have a large dog sitting shot gun on your side. They back off and step off the porch and seem to tone down their pitch a bit. There isn't a single door to door solicitation anyone should ever be buying from today other than your neighbors kid selling Girl Scout cookies!! The people who purchase magazines or books from these door to door people are FOOLS learn how to shop on AMAZON for christ sakes!!!! Geeze
Kitty March 13, 2012 at 05:15 AM
Just had them come by today in Fernwood area. I normally would not have answered the door, but my daughter was getting picked up at the same time so I went to the door expecting it to be friends. I asked them if they had a permit and they said they've had no problem selling for 5 weeks. Then they got out their raggedy magazine thing and I said I wasn't interested. "Thanks for being so neighborly!" was their sarcastic reply. About 1/2 hour later, they were sitting on the next court over, waiting to be picked up. I went on to the police website and contemplated calling, but honestly did not want to use the emergency line. Is there another option? Anyway, I told myself that if they were still sitting out there, I would call, but they weren't so I dropped it. Interesting that I just saw this article!
TMoraga March 13, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Just a quick note don't confuse the Dispatch number with 911. Dispatch is essentially the communication hub for all the police officers on duty. If a family member needs to contact Dad and he's working - its dispatch who they call and then Dispatch tells Dad to call home... Same goes for things like this you can call and say hey a large group of non-magazine sales people are gathering up and clearly waiting for their ride and they have been pretty rude to home owners - they are located at X etc. Dispatch simply passes on the news to the officers working and they may decide its worth swinging by and seeing what sort of trouble these folks are up to etc. Without that the officers may never even know the non-magazine sales folks were in town till after they hear people complaining about them days later.
TMoraga March 13, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Orinda 24hr police dispatch office number is non emergency 24 Hour Police Dispatch (925) 284-5010 put it in your cell phone phone book. Website is http://www.ci.orinda.ca.us/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC={B7C9FC74-5440-4274-BA91-7B9206C8411F} Lafayette is http://www.lafayette.in.gov/police/ non emergency number is Non-Emergency: 24 Hour Dispatch: (925)284-5010 Moraga PD is http://police.moraga.ca.us/ Non emergency number is Dispatch: (925) 284-5010


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