Distraction Burglary

Schemes, Scams, Frauds.

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Bogus Caller Impostor and Deception Theft or Distraction Burglary by Traveling Criminals


Distraction Burglary

Distraction Burglary is often called "bogus callers", "burglary artifice", "deception theft", "imposter burglaries" or "imposter type residential burglary" depending on the country in which it occurs. It is a crime primarily targeted at vulnerable older people living alone, although mothers at home with young children have also been targeted. 

Doorstep fraudsters pose as officials (including council, police, utility workers, door-to-door salesmen, contractors, real estate agents, volunteer service groups, medical examiners), to gain the targeted victims confidence, enabling them to gain entry into the residence during daytime hours.

Once inside, one keeps the victim busy or distracted while the other steals valuables from another part of the residence.

Some groups consist of family members and on occasion even their own small children are used to frequent residential areas to both locate the elderly and as a means of gaining the confidence of intended victims while accompanying the adults.

One individual in Florida posed as a sub-contractor hired by the town house association to inspect doorframes. He gained the confidence of elderly victims by posing as a contractor and having a child with him at the time he gained entry into the residences.

In one instance he stole a ring valued at approximately $10,000 and made good his escape. In another, where over $40,000 in jewelry was stolen, he used a two-way radio to converse with another unidentified subject who was on the scene.

In 1998 there were 16,000 known offences in the U.K. but recent research shows that it is likely to be 4 or 5 times higher for three main reasons:

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goes unreported due to shame of admitting that they trusted someone enough to let them inside in the first place;

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victims often don't realize for some time that they have actually been burgled as it can take hours, days or even weeks to realize that something is actually missing; and

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there are differences in how the crime is recorded and reported by police.

The average age of victims is 81 years of age and 60% are female, with the majority living alone. The crime can have a devastating effect upon its victims. A number have suffered heart attacks, strokes and worsened mental instability after the burglary has taken place.

Rural elderly are the most sought after victims because they may live alone, are easily intimidated, make poor witnesses due to failing eyesight and memory capability, keep large sums of cash either on their person or in their homes and cannot physically make necessary home repairs or improvements.

These groups of roving scammers or "Travelers" have developed many various scams over many generations and for each fraud and theft there may be different variations in structure and implementation.

For example, victims may be approached by a person posing as a termite or electrical wiring inspector offering a "free" inspection. Once inside the victim's home, money and jewelry will be stolen. The "inspector" may be accompanied by a companion and while the victim is distracted, the companion will steal the valuables.


Bogus Callers

Burglar Posing as a Tree Service Contractor

It was recently reported by police in Connecticut that a local residence was burglarized while the homeowner was falling victim to a scam wherein a man knocked on the door and identified himself as a tree service employee.

He told the resident that his company was contracted to remove and trim some trees along the homeowners property line and requested that he step outside and show him where the property line was so they wouldn't cut down the wrong trees.

After leading the man to the edge of the property in the rear, the con man told the resident he wanted to get a tape measure from his truck and that he'd be right back. After several minutes, when the con man did not return, the homeowner returned to the house and found it had been quickly burglarized using a simple ploy to get the resident out of the house and out of sight of the unlocked door.

Burglars Posing as Rug Salesmen

They are also engaged in rug sales which misrepresent the quality of goods. A variety of this scam requires that four Travelers be used. A distracter, who diverts the victims attention, two carriers (two Travelers hold up an open rug by the comers) and a fourth crouched behind the rug, whose presence is unknown to the victim.

The rug is carried open into the house; the distracter keeps the victim busy while the fourth Traveler (shielded by the rug) is able to survey rooms for money or other small valuables. If the victim decides to purchase the rug, the distracter tells the victim that the rug is a demonstrator model, but they have another just like it in the car. In this way, the Travelers are able to smuggle the fourth man out of the house, unseen by the victim.

Burglars Posing as Medical Examiners

Other very profitable techniques are the Social Security and health scams. Though there are variations of these scams, one type involves two well-dressed Travelers posing as doctors working with the Social Security agency. They offer to give free physicals with the understanding that if the victim passes the examination, their Social Security benefits will be increased. While the doctor is conducting the phony exam, the assistant is going through the house stealing what he can.

In the other type of health scam, the Travelers pose as health department workers offering a free EKG (heart exam) for the elderly. At that point a phony heart machine with attachments is placed on the victim and the victim is told to lie still. During the so-called EKG, one Traveler stays with the victim while the other attempts to steal money and other valuables.

Burglars Posing as a Charitable Service Group

In one scam, they approach a homeowner and tell them that they are volunteers workers for "Senior Services of America", or some other senior services group which is offering free house cleaning services. They befriend the homeowner and enter the house, explaining all the services that they have to offer. While one suspect talks to the homeowner, the other suspect walks through the house, stealing money, checks, jewelry, and anything else that they can conceal.

Violence Generally Avoided by Distraction Burglars

Offenders are highly organized, committing this nasty crime through their choice of victim: vulnerable older residents. Violence is,  however, rarely used and offenders are discouraged if challenged either by relatives, home helps or neighbours. Organizations that send people for home visits have an enormous role to play in combating this crime.

Attempting to call police, if the crime is discovered onsite, has resulted in victims being subdued, and on occasion injured.

One group of four traveling criminals were observed and reported trying to sell Avon products in a residential neighborhood without having any equipment or product to do so. They were stopped and investigated as possible burglars and individually could not come up with the same answers as to why they were in a residential area.

A search of their vehicle produced burglary tools described as a police baton and two carry bags which contained other empty plastic bags, pillowcases and tablecloths which are often used in burglaries.


Rug Burns Sting

One traveling con with prior arrests which include Burglary, Theft, Resisting An Officer, Possession Of Burglary Tools, Burglary To A Dwelling, Possession Of Forged Instruments and Forgery, phoned an elderly male that he had sold a rug to in the past and then went to his residence.

The con distracted him long enough to steal his jewelry worth $14,000 from the residence but an observant neighbor had prompted a police visit prior to his departure.

Caught showing the police false ID, it was discovered that this scammer has used at least seven different names in the past during confrontations with law enforcement, as well as different dates of birth and addresses. He even claims to have been born in at least three different countries.

He also claims to be a traveling salesman, though his rug sales follow-up indicates that he targets elderly persons and keeps track of them in order to re-contact them at a later date for other scams.


On the Road Again

One vulnerable victim was hit with a double whammy in December of 2000. A female traveling con along with a black male companion committed the "Pigeon Drop Scam" on her as she walked to her vehicle in a parking lot. She was conned into withdrawing money as good faith to place as collateral against a larger amount of money found by the scammer.

They took her money in exchange for the found money, which was in a locked metal suitcase type container. The victim went home with the found money and awaited further instructions. She eventually notified authorities when the perpetrator never re-contacted her.

Later in the same month, the female perpetrator actually came to the victim's residence with another unknown black male and produced identification as agents for "The Prevention Of Scamming Senior Citizens".

The victim was again conned into placing all her valuables onto a table for identification purposes. They then asked her to furnish them with a recent phone bill, and, when the victim went to get it, the perpetrators left the residence. Discovered stolen was a couple of diamond rings and the victim's checkbook.


Scamming Season is Here

05/08/03 By RAGHURAM VADAREVU STAFF WRITER  - North Jersey.com

She didn't trust banks, so the 83-year-old Carlstadt woman kept $63,000 in cash in a bedroom safe. Two weeks ago, she lost it all.

While a stranger posing as a window repairman distracted her, two accomplices entered the woman's house through another door and stole her life savings. "It's really horrendous," said the elderly victim, sitting in her darkened living room just hours after the theft.

With spring here, authorities expect to hear more stories like hers, as scammers, flimflammers, and con artists return to North Jersey to prey on the gullible or defenseless. Already, manipulative crooks have struck in Saddle Brook, Wallington, Fort Lee, and Clifton, posing in each instance as water repairmen and targeting the elderly. In Paramus, men speaking in foreign accents passed off cheap imitation suits as Armanis, collecting thousands of dollars from unsuspecting buyers.

Each year, scammers swipe tens of billions of dollars from victims nationwide, said Les Henderson, author of the book "Crimes of Persuasion."  "No one will escape being scammed at least once in their lifetime," said Henderson, who operates a Web site that aims to combat con artists. "But no one will ever admit that possibility."

Common cons involve "impostor burglars" who pose as utility workers, tree trimmers, rug salesmen, or driveway contractors. Once inside the house, they distract residents, steering them away from the door to a secluded place. Impostor tree trimmers, for instance, will try to draw out the resident under the guise that they will point out the proposed work. In each instance, accomplices ransack the house. Other scams become more prevalent as warmer weather draws more people outdoors.

Some flimflammers pose as contractors, approaching homeowners with offers of discount repairs. One of the more common scams involves resurfacing a driveway: The work amounts to little more than spraying the area with black oil. When rain washes it away days later, the "contractor" is long gone - along with the duped homeowner's money.

Not all scams occur at home, however. Police say con men and women also find their victims on the street, at the malls, and in parking lots. When they do, experts say, a major part of their success is their ability to take advantage of human nature.

A few months ago, a swindler who spoke with an Italian accent played on a Bergen County man's better nature to pull off a con. The stranger stopped the 40-year-old victim - call him John - in a Paramus mall parking lot and asked for directions to Newark Liberty International Airport. John, who is Italian, actually suspected a scam at first. But then he thought: "How could I get hurt by telling him how to get to the airport?"

But it didn't stop there. Before long, the men were chatting about their families and common ethnic heritage. After nearly 40 minutes, John thought nothing of shelling out $1,000 for nine leather jackets from the back of the stranger's car. And although the salesman said they were Armanis, all were fake.

"I fell for it - hook, line, and sinker," recalled John, who did not want his real name used. "I teach my children not to do exactly what I did do. I feel like the world's biggest dope." In hindsight, he can see several moments when he could have recognized the con. For one thing, the non-native stranger spoke flawless English.

John's advice? "Trust your instincts." Some people do. This year, three women approached a man on an Englewood street and tried to persuade him to give them cash for what they said was a winning lottery ticket. He wouldn't be hoodwinked. He told them to wait in a nearby parking lot while he got the money from his brother.

Instead, he summoned police and the would-be scammers were arrested. In many instances, victims detect the scam. Still, they somehow fall for it anyway. Chalk it up, in part, to the scammers' ability to manipulate others, the victims' inability to say "no" to authority figures, and a somewhat natural attraction to getting something cheap - or free.

"The person who is scamming is good at bending people to their will," said John Suler, a psychology professor at Rider University. "They are very good at reading people. They detect people's needs, people's fears, and people's desires."

Sometimes a scammer will begin a conversation with a small request, such as asking for directions, Suler said, and advance to larger and larger requests, until the victim is soon parted from his or her money. Other times, he said, impostor burglars use the authority of uniforms they wear to dupe their mostly elderly victims, who tend to be socially isolated and reluctant to challenge them. What's more, the older the victim, the less likely that he or she will be able to identify the thief.

They also may be afraid of speaking up for fear that their family will place them in an assisted-living facility, experts say. "They mostly target seniors because the senior can't ID them and doesn't know what's missing sometimes," said Steven "Two Bones" Mitchell, a self-proclaimed "king of the Gypsies."

For decades, Mitchell served as a liaison between authorities and members of New Jersey's Gypsy community, arranging surrenders and restitution by those who ran afoul of the law. "Gypsy" is commonly used to describe those with an itinerant lifestyle, but it also is associated - often derogatorily - with a group of traveling artisans, musicians, and tinkerers, some of whom Mitchell said consider scamming "a way of life."

The scammers he has known selected their elderly victims by riding around neighborhoods, spotting them when they go out shopping at supermarkets or catching them doing yard work, Mitchell said. They also seek clues from the house: Old-styled curtains, for instance, are a giveaway that the homeowner is elderly, he said.

"I don't condone this," Mitchell said. "I had a mother and father, too. I've been to the courtroom and seen these old ladies they robbed."

Victims lose more than money. They may no longer trust themselves or the people around them, and they suffer a host of emotions - "from [feeling] just stupid to suicidal," said Henderson. In the hours after she lost her life savings, the Carlstadt woman sat in a chair near her front window, next to a small table that held her blood-pressure monitoring machine. She wanted to be close to it.

A few years ago, a friend of hers had been swindled out of $4,000 by men posing as water meter repairmen, the woman said. Still, when the man was inside her house last month, the Carlstadt victim said, she never thought he might be trying to steal from her. "I was afraid of him a little bit," she admitted. "That's why I was trying to push him out the door."

"I don't understand it," she said, shaking her head between sips of bottled water. "I never trust people, and I don't let people in ... "I hope I get some of it back," she said.


Roof Repair Distraction Burglars

03/04 - NJ - Police in Easton and Palmer Township are warning residents to be watchful of a man and woman who claim to be roof repair experts but are really thieves.

The man and woman scam team was first spotted by an elderly woman who told police the duo stole several thousand dollars in jewelry from her home.

Police said the man knocked on the victim's door and said he was there to inspect her roof. The victim, whose roof is inspected annually, let the man and woman in her home and stayed in a bedroom with the woman while the man was supposedly checking the roof.

When the couple left, the victim realized the man did not inspect her roof but took her jewelry, police said.

About an hour later, the couple knocked on the door of an elderly woman in Easton, and the man asked to inspect the roof.

The homeowner refused to let the couple in her home, but the man later convinced the homeowner to meet him in her back yard.

While in the back yard, the woman asked the homeowner for hot water, police said. When the scam artists realized the home was equipped with an alarm, they suddenly left, police said.


Police warn elderly of Bogus Caller robbery scam

BY KEIKO MORRIS - STAFF WRITER -newsday.com

04/08/04 - (NY) Citing three incidents in the past month, Nassau police are cautioning the elderly to be aware of con artists posing as utility workers to gain entry into their homes and then rob them.

Three elderly women have reported being the target of scams in which two men pose as workers for the water company. The men insist that they need to check the pipes or water pressure because of a problem in the area, said Det. Lt. Kevin Smith, a police department spokesman. While one of the suspects distracts the victim, the other raids the victim's bedroom and takes cash and other valuables, Smith said.

On March 18, two men used the ruse to steal an undisclosed amount of cash and jewelry from an Elmont woman.

On March 31, two men wearing green clothing knocked on the door of a 79-year-old Albertson woman about 3 p.m., Smith said. They pointed out some water beneath the sink, told her she had a leak and then had her tap the faucet with a spoon - a ploy to distract her. Smith said that while one pretended to check the pipes the other went into her bedroom and took cash and other items.

The most recent incident took place Tuesday in North Massapequa at 2:45 p.m., when two men again claiming to be water repairmen targeted a 91-year-old woman.

Smith said the women could only provide vague descriptions of the men and it's unclear whether the three burglaries were committed by the same two men. The similarities, he said, are in the way the women are approached.


Miscarriage of Justice - "My Water Broke and I Need Some More"

04/30/04 - Arkansas - A warrant was issued Thursday for the woman police believe stole from an elderly woman’s home last week.

Authorities said Tina Marie Reynolds, 37, of Fort Smith conned her way into a woman’s residence in the 1700 block of South U Street on April 22 under the guise of having a miscarriage.

The suspect asked to use the bathroom and then stole money and credit cards from the woman who was gathering clothing items to help her.

About an hour later, police believe Reynolds tried to get into a residence in the 1200 block of Bluff Avenue by asking a man for water. The man told her to wait outside while he got her a glass. She left before he returned, police said earlier.


Beat Her with the Meter

BILLERICA, MASS -  Two men scammed an elderly woman out of about $5,000 when they talked their way into her home last week, according to police.

"These people are heartless," Police Inspector Bill West said.

Two men approached the woman claiming to be employees of the town's Park Department who had to put an electrical meter on the back of her home on April 28, West said.

One of the men said the work cost $50, so he handed her a $100 bill and asked for change.

When the 92-year-old woman went into her living room to get the money, the men commonly referred to by police as gypsies because they go from town to town scamming people knew where to look, West said.

One of the men led her to the back of the house while the other one stole her money, according to West.

JACK MINCH - lowellsun.com 05/05/04


Scammer Flush With Stolen Goods

Pittsburgh - 05/18/04 - Police are warning residents to be careful who they welcome in their home after a recent con hit. A man posing as a water company worker told the victim he had a $35 rebate to offer on his water bill. The resident allowed the fake worker inside and was told to flush the toilet. Meanwhile, the scammer took cash and valuables and ran off.


Headache Leads to Heartache

Missouri - 05/22/04 - A white male and female driving a gray or green pickup truck are attempting to defraud elderly people in Raytown. The suspects contact the resident, normally an elderly male or female, and tell them they are due a rebate on a roof that was installed in the last few years. The suspects then ask for a deductible to be collected up front and ask to be invited into the residence.

Once inside the home, the suspects distract the resident by asking for pain medication for a bad back or headache. While the resident searches for the medication, the suspects take wallets, purses and valuables from the home.


Brush Cut Leaves Victim Trimmed

06/05/04 - PA - Police said scam artists are at it again in Lackawanna County. Authorities said two men stole $2,000 from an 85 year old woman near Mount Cobb Thursday.

One man got the woman out of the house by claiming he was there to trim some brush. When she went back into the house the cash was gone. Police suspect this case is connected to a similar crime earlier this week in Scranton.


Police caution about water inspector scam

06/04 - Leavenworth police are cautioning local residents about an alleged thief who has been posing as a water department employee.

The Leavenworth Police Department received reports Thursday of incidents in which the man told residents he needed to work inside their homes as a result of a water main break.

Once inside, the man has taken money, according to Leavenworth police Lt. Pat Kitchens.

The man has been described as a white male in his late 20s or early 30s. He has a thin mustache and sandy-colored hair. He has tattoos on his knuckles and earlobes. He also is missing four upper teeth.

The man did not make threats, Kitchens said. But in one case he asked a resident to check a water heater in another part of the house, giving him an opportunity to search the house.

Kitchens said he contacted the Leavenworth Water Department and was told employees generally do not go into homes to perform work.

The employees also drive blue vehicles with water department logos and wear clothing that identify their department.


Flooring Offer Scam - Possible Distraction Burglary / Advance Fee Fraud

By John Lyon - times record - Arkansas

06/24/04 - A flooring material that supposedly is guaranteed to prevent falls is the latest product being offered by scam artists in Van Buren, according to police.

An 82-year-old Van Buren woman reported that she was approached Monday by a man who offered to sell her a type of laminated flooring that he claimed is guaranteed to prevent elderly people from slipping and falling, Van Buren police Cpl. Rob Rogers said. The woman told police the man said she would receive a $400 credit from Social Security if she had the flooring installed in her home.

The Social Security credit offer the man described does not exist, Rogers said. Police suspect the man’s entire proposal was bogus, he said.

The woman told police the man approached her outside her home and claimed he recognized her because they go to the same church. The woman did not recognize the man.

“Nobody at the church knows who this guy is," Rogers said.

While he was making his sales pitch, the man called to a younger man in a vehicle, and the younger man produced a flooring sample for the woman to inspect, Rogers said. The older man told the woman he would need $60 in advance, and they could discuss the rest of his fee later.

The man also offered to carpet the woman’s home for $100, Rogers said. The woman became suspicious and did not take him up on either offer.

Rogers said the woman was wise not to make a deal with the man, who may have been seeking to swindle her or to get into her house to rob or assault her.


Sneaky thieves scam pensioners through burglary then impersonating officials and police

By RACHEL GRUNWELL - stuff.co.nz

01/05 -New Zealand - Eighty-year-old Shirley Scott feels duped, angry and "absolutely tormented".

She is among a string of female pensioners targeted by a gang of girls operating a sophisticated scam, which involves the thieves sneaking into pensioners' houses to steal credit cards.

They later phone the victims as bogus bank workers, asking for pin numbers, getting a friend to pretend to be a police sergeant to convince the victims to release the details.

The thieves strike when the elderly leave their doors open while they hang out washing or do the garden. Police say many of the burgled elderly, living throughout Auckland and Hamilton, are terrified to live alone.

Police have released pictures of two of the suspects to the Sunday Star-Times, hoping the public will lead them to the offenders who have taken tens of thousands of dollars. In one case, it was a pensioner's entire savings.

"I think they're scum for targeting the elderly," says Takapuna police constable Troy-Marie English.

"The thieves are also stealing significant things like jewellery which makes them upset, and that makes me upset."

But Shirley Scott says she's mad, not sad.

"If I got hold of them, I tell you what I would like to do . . . I would be up for assault," she said.

"It's not so much the stealing, but the torture they put you through by ringing up later and pretending to be someone they aren't."

Scott's Auckland home was burgled on November 30 about 3.30pm. She left her front door open while weeding her garden, allowing thieves to sneak into her bedroom and take her handbag. A tin box containing a gold ring, passport, marriage licence and her dead husband's seven World War II medals were also stolen.

When Scott went inside for a cup of tea about 4.15pm she answered the phone to a woman who said she was from the Bank of New Zealand. She was in fact a scam artist.

She told Scott the bank was concerned someone was trying to use one of her cheques without authority. Scott looked for her cheque book and discovered her bag missing.

Scott asked the "bank worker" to cancel her credit cards and cheque book as they had been stolen. The woman then said she required Scott's pin number.

Scott told the woman she should not do this over the phone, but when she put a pretend "police officer" on the phone to confirm it was OK, Scott believed her.

"They sounded so believable and polite," said Scott.

Later another woman rang and purported to be an officer, saying police had recovered Scott's stolen goods. She said not to worry or do anything as her items could be picked up from a North Shore police station the next day.

The criminals used the afternoon to spend $3700 on perfume, clothes, Lotto tickets and getting cash from ATM machines. More than $1000 was spent in a clothing store.

The next day, when a real bank worker rang Scott about her out-of-character spending, Scott knew she had been duped. "Oh I felt sick. I'm still mad and angry with myself that I was duped like that."

The BNZ has refunded half her losses and an insurance company reimbursed the remainder, but her husband's war medals can never be replaced.

She has also lost her trust in people and is paranoid about locking doors - even when hanging out her washing.

"I used to be so trusting. But I was taken in . . . they were just so professional," said Scott, who wants to warn the public they should never give their pin numbers over the phone to anyone.

English said Scott's case was one of four connected North Shore burglaries in November and December, on women aged between 70 and 80. Police suspect at least another six burglaries could also be the work of the same gang.

"These are the only numbers I know about. There are bound to be many more elderly affected," said English.

The suspects sometimes wear dark-coloured trucker caps with white writing on the front, are casually dressed and could pass as students aged in their late teens to early 20s.


UK Pensioner praised after foiling distraction burglars

01/07 - Police have praised an 84-year-old Taunton man after he thwarted distraction burglars by following the "doorstep code."

The man was approached by offenders who claimed that they were from the water board.

But the wary pensioner refused to let them into his Coronation Close home in Ruishton, demanding to see their identity. They declined and he then called the council, refusing them entry. They eventually gave up and left.

DCI Martyn Triggol of the Somerset West policing district said: "The pensioner did everything we advise people to do when they have callers to their home, purporting to be officials from various organisations. We encourage them to use the Doorstep Code, when responding to unexpected callers.

"You should look through a window or door viewer to see who is at the door first. Then consider opening the door on a chain. Genuine callers will carry identification cards, and will not mind waiting outside whilst a phone call is made to verify their credentials.

"You should only let people into your home if you are completely satisfied concerning their identity.

"We also encourage people to keep an eye elderly and vulnerable neighbours," said DCI Triggol.

However police are concerned about burglaries in the West Somerset area between Monday January 22 and Wednesday January 24,

In the first incident in Dulverton an 83-year-old woman disturbed three men who were in the sitting room of her Haddon View home, in Brompton Regis. They were looking through her writing desk. After a brief conversation the victim starting screaming and waving her walking stick at them. They then fled taking with them a quantity of cash.

The offenders were described as two men, aged between 30-40 years, clean-shaven of average height and stocky. They were wearing matching navy blue overalls of smart appearance. There was also a third man but no description.

On January 24 in Laxton Road, Taunton, at about 4.10pm an elderly man disturbed three men in his hallway. One of them pushed past the victim and ushered him back into the kitchen, saying that they were workmen and asked him to turn the taps on. One of the men searched the living room and all three offenders were ordered out of the property.

Police have released the following descriptions. The first offender is described as a white man is 6ft tall of medium build, aged 25-30 years, with a sharp jaw line, possibly a light moustache. He was wearing a small knitted dark blue or black hat and a long sleeved dark blue or black zip-up jacket.

The second man is described as a white man, 20-25 years, 5ft 5ins tall, of medium build, having a round boyish face with chubby cheeks. He was wearing a dark brown flat cap and a long-sleeved blue coat.

The third offender is described as a white man about 5ft 8ins tall, aged 25 of solid build with short dark hair sticking out of the back of a flat cap. He was wearing a long-sleeved top.

In another incident on the same day between 4-4.30pm at Ilminster Road, Taunton (which was only about 100 metres from the previous incident) a 92-year-old man was disturbed by a breathless man, claiming to be from a company called "DV9 water services." He told the victim to flush his upstairs toilet. The victim agreed but told the offender to follow him, asking him questions. The suspect left a short while later. It is not believed anything was taken.

The offender was described as a white man in his 30s. He was wearing what appeared to be a boiler suit in a khaki or brown colour.

The other incident reported happened between 4.30-5pm in Mill Bay, North Petherton when a 91-year-old woman heard tapping on her kitchen window. When she opened the door she was confronted by three men, who claimed they were from the water board and had come to do work on her water pipes. They then proceeded to push their way in, again claiming to be from the water board, asking for loan of a screwdriver or knife. While one of the men kept the victim in the kitchen another used the knife to force open a bureau and take a significant amount of cash and leave. The other men then left the property.

One of the offenders was described as a white man, 30-40 years old, between 5ft 4ins to 5ft 8ins tall, with a round face, of hubby build, wearing a knitted black hat and a navy blue, dark brown or green coloured boiler suit.

A second man was described as a white man, about 6ft tall wearing a boiler suit, while the third offender was described as being in his 30s, about 5ft 4ins tall, with short light coloured hair and wearing a boiler suit.

Anyone with any information about the incidents is asked to contact the burglary team at Taunton police station on 0845 4567000.


Life Savings Lost to Repairman Burglary

Milford Daily News

07/06 - NORTHBRIDGE, MA-- A man and woman posing as roof repair contractors yesterday stole a safe and other items from a local homeowner, police said, the same scam in which an elderly Natick woman lost her life savings earlier this week.

The team approached a Rockdale resident, suggesting the roof of his home needed repairs, according to police.

According to police, the man left the homeowner and the woman in a rear room while he went "outside" to "check the roof." Soon after, police said, the man returned with an estimate and offered to reduce the price if the resident paid in cash.

After the man and woman left, police said, the homeowner noticed he was missing a safe and other items. He called police around 1:30 p.m.

The resident described the man as having dark hair with a goatee, and wearing a dark T-shirt and jeans. The resident described the woman as having long, dark hair and wearing make-up, police said.

According to police, the resident said the couple left in a black van.
Anyone with information should call police at 508-234-6211.

On Monday, a similar incident happened in Natick. An elderly widow had her life savings stolen from her house by a pair of roving scam artists who conned their way into her home, Natick Police said Tuesday.

The woman, in her late 70s, discovered the $17,000 in cash she kept hidden in a box was empty, and investigators believe the pair who were in the house Monday took it, Detective James Ordway said.

On Monday, the homeowner, whom police did not name, answered a knock at her door. There, a man and a woman -- his daughter the man claimed -- were at the door and told the woman that it appeared the roof needed repairs.

The woman let the pair into the house. The "daughter" went into the living room to sit with the homeowner while the man went to inspect the house, Ordway said.
"He's free around the house, and he's making it sound like he's working on it -- he's banging on the walls, he makes some noise on the roof," Ordway said.

After about a half hour, the pair left, and the woman discovered her hidden life savings was gone, Ordway said.

The traveling thieves are not new to the MetroWest area, Ordway said. He said they migrate north from Florida and look for elderly people to scam. Ordway said people should call the police if anyone they do not know comes to the door offering home repairs. He also said large amounts of cash should not be kept in a home.


Scam artists now posing as utility workers

7/06 - (South Carolina) There are scam artists at work and their targets of preference seem to be the elderly.

The Lexington County Sheriff’s Department has reported two instances of scams against the elderly that are strikingly similar to one used against an Orangeburg County woman about two weeks ago.

In each of the cases, the scam artist used the same ruse, asking the elderly person to walk outside in their yard with him. One of the scam artists posed as a cable installer. In two of the cases, the scam artist posed as a representative from a utility company.

In all the instances, while the person was outside with the scam artist, another person entered the home and stole items.

Times and Democrat


Roof Repair Burglary Scammer Steals Cash from Elderly Victim

09/07 - CROMWELL, CT - Police are warning local senior citizens of a scam perpetrated by a man and a woman who stole more than $3,000 from an 82-year-old man Thursday afternoon.

The victim, a Ledge Road resident who recently had the roof on his house replaced, told police he was approached by the pair Thursday about 2 p.m.

The couple said they worked for the contractor who had installed the resident's roof, Police Chief Anthony J. Salvatore said. They claimed the contractor had overbilled the resident and said they would pay him $50 a week until the amount was repaid.

The pair then tricked the resident into revealing where he kept his money. Then, while the woman distracted the resident, the man went into the house and took more than $3,000. The pair then left.

Police are investigating.

Salvatore also said he did not think the pair knew beforehand that the man had more than $3,000 in his house.

Similar incidents may have happened in other towns, Salvatore said, though he declined to elaborate. He advised all residents not to allow strangers into their homes and to ask for identification from anyone they are uncertain about.

The victim told police that the man and woman were around 40 years old. He described the man as Latino, having dark hair, 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing about 150 pounds. He described the woman as white, 5 feet 8, and about 130 pounds.

Police ask anyone with information about the incident to call 860-635-2256.

Hartford Courant


Victims Flush Away Valuables in Utility Worker Distraction Burglary Scam

09/07 - SAN DIEGO, CA – Police identified at least two more victims in a burglary scam involving a man who poses as a wastewater district employee to gain entry into homes and then steals valuables.

The first incident happened at a home on Aragon Drive in the Redwood Village neighborhood and the second and third occurred a week later in Serra Mesa on Amulet Street and in Allied Gardens on Glenroy Street.

In each case, victims reported that a man wearing a mechanic's uniform came to the door claiming to be an employee with the city of San Diego Metropolitan Wastewater Department or the city's sewer department, San Diego police said.

He told the residents that he needed to check the plumbing or water pressure inside the home. While they were distracted, he took valuables, including jewelry, wallets and cash, police said.

In the Serra Mesa case on Monday, he told a 75-year-old woman to go to a front bathroom and flush the toilet three times on his command, police said.

In the Allied Gardens case, he told the residents, a couple ages 79 and 84, that he needed to check their home's drains.

The exact age of the first victim was not released by police although a spokeswoman said the woman was at least 50.

The burglar is described as 35 to 40 years old, 5 feet 6 inches tall and clean shaven. The man does not show any type of identification or paperwork. Victims described him as polite.

The victims told police they did not see him driving in a vehicle.

Police want the public to know that city wastewater employees rarely need access inside customer's homes because most of their work involves public property.

Residents can verify whether a person works for the wastewater department by calling (858) 292-6484 during business hours or (619) 515-3525 after hours.

Additionally, all city employees carry photo identification with them and must show it if asked.

Anyone with information about the series is asked to call police at (858) 495-7900 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-TIPS.

A police spokeswoman said you should never let someone you do not know inside your home.

SignOnSanDiego.com


Unexpected Caller Fraud - article

Burglary Robbery

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