West Seattle woman scammed: Friend warns, “Be watchful”

Desiree is not only upset about something that happened to a friend of hers, she wants to make sure it doesn’t happen to you, so she e-mailed WSB to share the story, so you know what and who to watch for – read on:

I wanted to alert you to a scam artist that may be operating around West Seattle.

I have an elderly friend who lives very close to the Riverview Playfield (I don’t want to give her name or address). Last Thursday, she was working in her back yard during the day, when a man drove through her alley in a white pickup. He struck up a casual conversation with my friend and mentioned that he had done some yard work for her (deceased) husband a few years back. He pointed out that her garage roof needed to be cleaned and partially reshingled and he offered to do this for her. Unfortunately, my friend took him up on his offer. He asked her for a downpayment of $700.00 so that he could buy materials and supplies for the job. She walked into her house to get the cash for him, and he followed her in. After she handed him the money, she asked him for a receipt. He said he had his receipt book in the truck and would go get it. He walked out of her house and quickly drove away.

My friend called the police and filed a report. This same man came back the next morning (Friday), this time knocking on her front door. My friend opened that door wide enough to tell him that she’d called the police the day before. He then took off in a big hurry – she didn’t have time to get his license plate. The police speculate he came back to try to scam more money out of her, because at this point he knew that she had cash in her home.

As I said, my friend is elderly, and she’s on a very fixed income. The $700.00 that he swindled her out of took a long time for her to save. I thought it would be good for WSB readers to know that this occurred. It’s a reminder to us all to be watchful, not just for ourselves but also for our neighbors. My friend isn’t the gullible type and she knows better than to fall for this kind of thing – but he preyed upon her friendliness and lied about doing prior home repairs for her husband. This made her feel like she could trust him.

Her description of the scammer is as follows: Driving a white older pickup, in his mid 50’s, about 5’9″, heavier set, silver hoop earring in left ear, unshaven, white male. I know it’s not much to go on.

20 Replies to "West Seattle woman scammed: Friend warns, "Be watchful""

  • CB January 21, 2009 (2:50 pm)

    There is a special place in Hell for scammers like this guy. May he rot there for all eternity.

  • onceachef January 21, 2009 (3:01 pm)

    Yes, he should go to hell for doing this…she has got to be careful now that someone knows she has money in the house…isn’t this the same area as the other recent break-in (and mugging)…near Riverview Playfield? Sounds suspicious to me. Don’t open your doors unless you know who it is or have another locked door (like a screen door) in between you. It’s okay to yell at them through the door until you know what they want. If you’re suspicious ask them to wait a minute while you dial 911!

  • RainyDay1235 January 21, 2009 (3:06 pm)

    I NEVER open my front door anymore unless I know it’s a friend coming over. Ever. They can leave a flyer or a package. That’s just how it is now. The dog will take care of anyone that comes in the backyard. Poor lady.

  • beachdrivegirl January 21, 2009 (3:43 pm)

    That is just so sad. Lets hope that he doesnt come back in the future since he knows that she does keep cash in the house. I am so sorry to hear that this happened to her.

  • judyd January 21, 2009 (4:13 pm)

    Just this afternoon a white truck with some red and black logo about “home delivery” something came and parked on our street. Two seconds later I see a young guy approach the next door neighbor’s house and at the same moment my doorbell rings. My dogs start barking bloody murder and I let them. I continued eating lunch at my desk and they must have gone away. I don’t ever answer the door either. It’s sad that we can’t be out in our yards, chat with passers-by, but you CAN’T, you just can’t.

  • nw January 21, 2009 (4:22 pm)

    I recently checked in with my elderly neighbor in the area south of Mt. St. Vincent and she told me that something very similar happened to her except that the “down payment” was obtained through intimidation once he gained access to her house. Unfortunately, she was too scared and ashamed to tell anyone at the time (this was a couple of months ago) so it may be too late to reconstruct any useful information, but I’ll call SPD to see since this is clearly not an isolated incident. The feeling of helplessness and guilt is what is so disturbing to me about this. I have since programmed her speed dial with my cell phone number so that she can at least reach me in a hurry right after calling the police.

  • rbj January 21, 2009 (7:53 pm)

    You know, the guy that did this to that lady is a turd and deserves to be punished for it.

    But let’s not start losing our faith in people and say that we can’t answer the front door because of stuff like this. How will we buy girl scout cookies? How will i borrow a shovel from my neighbor? How will my buddies stop by for a beer unannounced? What happens when my neighbors kid throws his frisbee in my backyard?

    If we bow like cowards then they win right?

  • WTF January 21, 2009 (8:35 pm)

    He won’t be hard to find. Look for him. An older white pick up with a scummy white guy driving it doing nothing all day….hmmm. EVERYONE keep your eyes peeled. And, NEVER open your door for anyone you don’t know, especially when alone or unable to defend yourself in a “negative” situation!!!!!!

  • Ron January 21, 2009 (9:49 pm)

    To RBJ: I assume you are a young guy that can hold your own in an attack. You are most likely safe from these low life scum unless they think you have drugs in your house, but it is a different case with older people who can’t defend themselves. It’s better to keep your doors locked and don’t answer the door unless you know the person at the door. If they don’t go away, then call 911, it may save your money and/or your life.

  • Cash Nulu January 21, 2009 (11:16 pm)

    I too feel sorry for this victim.
    But why would ANYONE but a drug dealer keep more than $700 cash in their home?
    She is not gullible and knows better? Wrong on both accounts.
    Little makes sense. Why did she let him into her house? Why did she pay in cash? Why did she not follow him out to his truck for the receipt. Why did she not get any info/ID from him? Why did she not call 911 when he returned?
    The anecdotal narrative begs this question. Was the man returning to do the promised work and scared away by her crazy reaction? Is it possible, although not probable, that lacking a license, bonding and insurance he panicked and left.
    Whatever the case, it is likely that this unfortunate elderly woman needs help of the sort not available while living home alone.
    It is sad, but the few facts are clear.

  • alkigirl January 21, 2009 (11:37 pm)

    I am sad to see the comments that are critical of the woman involved in this incident, and the comments that draw the conclusion that she should not be living alone. Hopefully most of us reading this sad story know that our elders grew up in a different time, when (most) people could be trusted. We also know that there are many reaons that our elders want and need to be independent as long as possible. Desiree, thank you for letting us all know about this. I will alert several neighbors of mine. Best wishes to you and to your friend.

  • D. Cooper January 22, 2009 (8:39 am)

    Cash Nulu, please don’t repeat that asinine police canard about anyone with large amounts of cash must be dealing drugs.

    There are lots of reasons to keep cash around, some reasonable, some slightly paranoid, but all well within the bounds of normal use, and not having anything to do with drugs at all.

    Statements like yours just make it easier to blame (or frame!) people for perfectly lawful behaviour.

  • homedk January 22, 2009 (10:41 am)

    To nw: it sounds like your friend may live very close to our neighborhood, so I wanted to call to your attention that we have a blockwatch group. You can email hansenviewblockwatch@comcast.net for more info.

    I’m so sorry to hear what happened to both of these senior citizens.

  • cindyb January 22, 2009 (10:44 am)

    My elderly neighbor lady also had a man who claimed to be a gardener intimidate (she said “menaced”) her into giving him a check for about $275. He yelled at her and wouldn’t leave until she “paid” him and he didn’t do any of the yard work agreed upon.
    She had asked one of the neighbors about using their yard service and therefore assumed that he was sent over after doing work at the neighbors.
    She described him as an Asian male, around 40, looked a little unkempt (but since he was supposedly doing yard work didn’t think much of it).
    She was also upset and frightened and didn’t report it to police or stop payment on the check because she was afraid he would come back and harm her. She lives alone too.

  • Cash Nulu January 22, 2009 (3:43 pm)

    Alkigirl should read a little history to clean the rose out of her glasses.

  • Desiree January 22, 2009 (4:11 pm)

    A bit more background, mostly in response to Cash Nulu’s comments – my friend is in her mid-eighties and lost her husband about 4 years ago. They had been married for 58 years. She has lived in her current home for much of that time. When this person pulled up in his truck into the alley behind her house, she happened to be in her yard. He struck up a conversation with her, and he referred to her husband numerous times, stating that he knew him. That made her feel like she could trust him. Alkigirl is right – my friend grew up in a time when it was normal to trust people, and to assume positive intent. When he told her he was going to get a receipt for her in his truck, he left her house and took off very quickly. Being in her mid eighties and having arthritis and back porch stairs to negotiate, she wasn’t quick enough to give chase. And for the record, her reaction when he returned the next day was hardly “crazy.” She simply opened the door a crack, asked him why he had taken off so quickly the day before, without giving her the promised receipt, and informed him that his actions caused her to call the police to file a report. He then took off. I want to add that I came to know this particular woman because I volunteer for a group that assists seniors with various chores around their homes – things that they may not be able to accomplish by themselves anymore. She wants to be independent and like many seniors, doesn’t have the desire to move into assisted living. I am hopeful that if we can do just a little to help the seniors in our community, even if it’s just looking in on a neighbor from time to time, that it will make a positive difference in their lives.

  • WTF January 22, 2009 (9:01 pm)

    D. Cooper, couldn’t have said it better myself! Rock on.

  • WTF January 22, 2009 (9:10 pm)

    Desiree, you go girl.

    The rest of you, can you imagine what we (40s-50s year olds) are going to be like when we are that age?!? How sad for us. We will always walk looking behind us, never say hello to anyone, let alone someone of difference, we’ll be scared to leave our homes after 5pm in the winter an 7pm in the summer. Pathetic, just pathetic. That Fer who stole and used the trust of that person, let alone someone that age, needs to come spend 15 minutes with me…and my doberman. Again, NEVER OPEN THE DOOR OR GIVE MONEY TO ANYONE YOU DO NOT KNOW! EVER!!!

  • TonyM January 29, 2009 (7:25 pm)

    Do any of you guys have jobs? Facebook is pretty awesome for wasting hours of your day as well. And be nice to old people. Their joints hurt.

  • kitty February 3, 2009 (3:48 pm)

    this is my grandmas best friend

Sorry, comment time is over.