West Seattle door-to-door alert: The pitch without a point

April 5, 2011 at 10:43 pm | In Door-to-door alert, West Seattle news | 28 Comments

About a block east of Lincoln Park, Eric had a visitor tonight who raised his suspicions – read on for his story:

This is what Eric wrote to his neighborhood mailing list, and WSB:

Tonight around 7:30 a guy in a red ski jacket knocked on our door. … He had a pitch for something. It went on for about a minute and I couldn’t really tell where he was going with it, but it seemed like a scam. I told him that if he didn’t have a leave-behind brochure or a website, I didn’t want to talk to him any longer. He made remarks to me as he left and at that point I realized he was definitely not legit. People who legitimately canvas neighborhoods are trained to be polite, never offend their prospects. A minute later, he was at (neighbors’) house. I watched him through the window approach (neighbor) in her driveway. After about 3 minutes of this I could tell (neighbor) was uncomfortable so I went out to the front porch and told him the same thing I had told him at our back door. He argued a little, then made a threatening comment and quickly made his way down Hemlock and south on 46th. I called the police.

Eric did take a photo of the man in case it’s needed for reference. In a followup note to the neighborhood list and WSB, the neighbor he mentions added:

He was talking in circles and never really got to the point of what he was trying to pitch. The only thing I got out of it was that he was trying “earn points” for something. He said a bunch of folks in the neighborhood had recently signed a petition. He showed me a page and I didn’t recognized any names. Plus I noticed the dates were from back in January. Definitely fishy… I have a feeling he was casing out the neighborhood.

28 Comments

  1. I had one of these guys come to my door yesterday (4/4), shortish, braided hair, African American… it’s the magazine pitch for “points”, from the “inner city of Chicago”.

    I no longer got the words, “I’m not prepared today to….. ” and he was off, mumbling all pissed-like down my front steps. I even listened to him for about 5 minutes.

    (I’m just north of Lowman)

    Comment by jissy — 10:55 pm April 5, 2011 #

  2. This guy came to my door in the admiral district two days ago. He was trying to pitch magazines and said he was a former drug dealer from chicago. The magazine subscriptions were around 40 dollars and he wanted cash… SCAM! He was a early 20ies black male with a red ski jacket.

    Comment by ng — 11:05 pm April 5, 2011 #

  3. It seems obvious to me that any benefits from door-to-door sales are outweighed by the negatives. It’s time to ban the practice.

    Comment by marty — 11:46 pm April 5, 2011 #

  4. Why are people even opening their doors?

    Comment by Neighbor — 11:59 pm April 5, 2011 #

  5. That guy was in my Seahurst neighborhood with the same line of bull last summer! Flashed a wad of cash saying that cash donations got him more points than magazine subscriptions. I chased him off my property and called the Burien police and gave them a description. At the time he was driving a white Camry with Virginia plates.

    Comment by chilly — 12:21 am April 6, 2011 #

  6. The same guy was working the
    Gatewood neighborhood yesterday afternoon. He knocked on my door (California and Southern) and, when I told him I wanted to see some proof of a legit charity that I could verify on the Internet, he said he didn’t have it with him. He came back again around five o’clock Tuesday afternoon. When I asked him for charity verification, he said he thought I just wanted him to come back another day and promised to being it tomorrow. I get the distinct impression he’s casing out different houses that might look promising. Any idea on a safe but effective way to discourage this guy from prowling around our neighborhoods?

    Comment by Jay — 1:40 am April 6, 2011 #

  7. You are under no obligation to answer your door at any time.

    Comment by valvashon — 2:35 am April 6, 2011 #

  8. Whether related to the above or not: there was a gentleman going door to door yesterday in the Admiral neighborhood around 2 pm (Admiral and 46th), who I spotted three doors down and watched as he knocked and left after no reply at our neighbors homes.

    Black man, late 20′s-early 30′s, black ski jacket, nice tie sticking out and sporting a black and white wide-stripped stocking cap.

    We have long ago decided to not answer our door to knocks or rings if we don’t recognize the person out front (video surveillance installed), and have worked out with neighbors to please call prior to coming to the door for just this reason.

    After his third straight ‘no answer’ at our place he proceeded east on Admiral all the way to Calif. where I lost sight of him.

    Nothing negative or suspicious, just another observation to report and stash away in the memory banks.

    However I am very aware of the line of thinking that this could be disguised as an act of canvassing a neighborhood, noting the day & time of the no-answer and plan to return, either that day or another.

    Stay aware and prepare. We have long ago began the practice of hiding our laptops, digital toys and such whenever we leave the house. Just in case!

    Comment by sbre — 5:20 am April 6, 2011 #

  9. This same guy was at my door yesterday, (4/5/11) on Beach Drive/Jacobson at 1:00 PM. I didn’t answer the door and I watched him look thru my kitchen window, very scary. But he left and went to all the other neighbors houses.

    Comment by Michelle — 6:51 am April 6, 2011 #

  10. Not opening your door or at least going to look out the window (so they know someone is home) can backfire too!!!! We had someone try to kick our back door in when we didn’t answer! My neighbor didn’t answer her door and the next thing she heard was her bathroom window being broken, she let her dog go and the guy shot back out the window!!!

    Comment by Concerned Citizen — 7:37 am April 6, 2011 #

  11. Braided hair fella got a $20 donation from my very sweet but gullible wife. Same scam as above selling magazine subscription for inner city kids in Chicago. California Ave a few blocks South of Admiral (4/5/11 @ 6pm)

    Comment by gullible — 7:49 am April 6, 2011 #

  12. The same fellow knocked on our door Sunday about 5:00. Live near Frontenac and California Ave. My husband answered the door. After about 30 seconds it was clear this was not legit– could not understand what he was saying, saw no identification, and would not be interrupted. Closed the door.

    Comment by Elma — 8:20 am April 6, 2011 #

  13. Fear mongers. We live in a world unfortunately riddled with fear. Practice prudence. Have a wonderful day WS. : )

    Comment by DF — 8:22 am April 6, 2011 #

  14. I have a nice 138 grain welcome for anyone who tried to kick down my door while I’m at home.

    Comment by Tony S — 8:40 am April 6, 2011 #

  15. Okay, this scares me. If I don’t answer the door they’ll kick it in and if I do answer the door they’ll case the place.

    I’m getting a chupacabra to help protect me since my cats haven’t volunteered to help.

    Comment by desertdweller — 8:53 am April 6, 2011 #

  16. Same scam, but by a young lady saying she was trying to turn her life around by learning positive behaviors. It didn’t look legit to me, so I told her I couldn’t help and she left with a smile. This was 4/5/11 near 59th and Charleston.

    Comment by terrie — 9:24 am April 6, 2011 #

  17. Ok, well, I bought a magazine from the “scary” African American guy with short braided hair. Yes, it was overpriced, and maybe I got scammed, maybe I didn’t. I read the fine print and checked the website. I will post again if I got scammed or if anything happens. My salesman was not scary and was not demanding cash. He wore a nice jacket with a white shirt and purple tie. I encourage people to go to the inner city or even the suburbs of Chicago. (Not that these guys are really from there.)We are blessed here. I prayed for him.

    Comment by Angie — 9:42 am April 6, 2011 #

  18. I love the religious ones… where they come up despite the signs and say “This is not a solicitation, it’s an invitation.” when I open the door to ask them not to litter on my doorstep with their pamphlets. Semantics?

    Comment by MargL — 9:43 am April 6, 2011 #

  19. Not opening the door is NOT a good way to discourage door to door solicitors, but is of course merited if you don’t feel safe. The police department recommends placing a -NO SOLICITING- sign on your door to discourage door to door sales/casing/scams. If everyone does this, then we can eliminate door to door casing/sales/scams. I have had a sign on my door for two years and have only once had anyone illegitimate ring the bell, and she was a Christian who thought she was above the sign. Again – PUT NO SOLICITING SIGNS ON YOUR DOORS TO PREVENT CRIME!

    Comment by NO SOLICITING — 9:44 am April 6, 2011 #

  20. These folks seem to come by once a year – the first time I bought the magazine despite feeling that it was probably a scam. Of course, the magazine never came. The past two years I have declined, they argue, they suggest just giving a donation. I feel bad for these people, if they really are criminals I’m sure there are much easier ways to make money than this so I tend to think they really are people who are trying to do a legitimate job but who have been scammed themselves into carrying on the criminal work of a someone else. too bad. I don’t think (in my case) they were “casing” my house.

    Comment by Dawn — 10:04 am April 6, 2011 #

  21. I think the days of door to door anything need to be over…To much weird stuff out there and I don’t need it standing on my porch.

    Comment by dancingcat — 10:58 am April 6, 2011 #

  22. It has nothing to do with fear. I don’t like being interrupted. Same reason I don’t answer telemarketer calls.

    Comment by datamuse — 11:20 am April 6, 2011 #

  23. Makes me feel like I don’t want to leave my kids home alone! And they’re teenagers! It does seem like a lot of work for someone to scam but as long as people give them money – any amount – they will see it as a viable choice. (No judgement – just stating the obvious)

    Comment by DBurns — 12:25 pm April 6, 2011 #

  24. Door-to-door sales was really something back in the 1950s, but in today’s world it’s nonsense. I’d rather have them spam my inbox; it’s gotta be cheaper for a legitimae business to do that than pay people to pound the ground. But I also think a lot of people have developed a “fortress mentality” about their yards and front doors (I know I have a touch of this). But it’s not a crime to knock on my door- I’ll answer it and tell them no thanks with a smile. As far as casing and robbing my house goes, if they are smart enough to do it when nobody is home I’ll be glad I have good insurance. If they try it when we are present we will be exercising our time-honored 2nd Amendment Rights. Fear is never a good substitute for mental preparation, professional training and reliable equipment. :D

    Comment by Cascadianone — 6:23 pm April 6, 2011 #

  25. I am at home alone all day with 2 children under age 4. I do not answer the door. My husband just happens to be home when these scary men do come by, and I am so glad too. We never see them men more than once. My husband loves when they come and Knock on our door (after they passed 2 No Solictors Signs, and a No Trespassing Sign). My husband harasses them to say the least (not the other way). He asks them so many annoying questions (for like 10 minutes) and they really think he’s crazy so they leave. He has even followed them in his car for blocks and continued to question them and make it known his is watching. I don’t believe anyone should do this. I just think it’s kind of funny, that they get harassed and never come back.

    Comment by Mindy Bowler — 11:14 pm April 7, 2011 #

  26. The people “getting points” are usually accompanied with a driver and a van and these “kids” check in with the driver block to block. I saw that last summer in N. Admiral.

    DON’T OPEN YOUR DOOR. I believe they’re checking out the homes to vandal later.

    Comment by Dianne — 9:39 am April 8, 2011 #

  27. The same person many have described above was at my house yesterday and I only made note of it because his behavior was odd and concerned me. He went to my next door neighbor after me. I looked up door-to-door magazine scams and they do exist. The BBB has information.

    Comment by Jennifer — 10:02 am April 8, 2011 #

  28. Youngish black man in tie and sweater vest showed up on my doorstep (38th & Findlay) at 1:40 this afternoon with a big phony smile and a line of blarney calculated to ingratiate. When I told him “I can’t buy anything today,” the smile disappeared and he turned on his heel, saying “That’s the LAST thing I need to hear today.”

    Comment by Sherry — 1:48 pm April 9, 2011 #

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