A well dressed and articulate young lady came to the door claiming to live on a street just a few blocks down, where her retired military father had moved a year ago. She explained that she was an NYU student raising money trying to spend a semester in the UK to intern with the BBC. As a fundraiser for the trip, she was selling magazines. She poured it on and had her story clearly well rehearsed. I believed her, but just to make sure I asked some probing questions about her major, etc. She was very good.
I forked over $46 for a 3 year subscription, was given a receipt, and then I went and googled the company "American Circulation Enterprises" and "scam" and was shocked by what came up. My brother-in-law came over right then and he joined my wife and I as we went down the block to try and find her. She was right down the street trying to fool another neighbor.
I explained what I had found on the internet and that I wanted to speak to her father just to confirm that she did in fact live down the street. I asked for her father's phone number. She wouldn't give it to me, but she called her "father" and then handed the phone to me. I noticed the area code was from another state. The "father" went into a long, detailed, and clearly rehearsed speech about how what was on the internet was all a misunderstanding. This really raised warning flags, because why would her father be so familiar with the details of the fundraising company's business? He wasn't acting at all like a father. When I asked the street number of where he lived, to see if it matched what the girl had told me, he pretended to get disconnected.
After explaining to the girl that we could simply clear all this up by walking over to her house or by calling the cops, her attitude changed quickly. She handed us our money back and she feigned being really offended that we didn't trust her, but she wouldn't show us where she lived. I then called the cops on my cell phone and she started to walk away quickly. Eventually, she started running through people's yards and through the woods trying to get away as we followed her all the time updating the cops on where she was running.
Before the cops caught up with us, she was threatening us saying that we were stalking her and she even picked up a huge rock and repeatedly threatened to hit us with it. By this point, she was clearly not an NYU student, but was instead a troubled girl who had a seriously nasty mouth.
All the time during her attempt to get away she was talking with someone on the phone trying to get them to pick her up. Fortunately, the cops caught up with her first. As soon as the cops got there, she started with a story about how my brother-in-law had assaulted her, had grabbed her b***s, etc. Fortunately, her story held as much water as a sieve. The cops didn't believe her for a second. Eventually, this slick young guy in a very expensive vehicle (I wonder how he paid for that!) showed up and started trying to extricate his worker from the situation. Needless to say, they didn't have a license to sell in Salisbury, MD., she wasn't from the area, and her whole story about being a student trying to raise money was all BS.
Would I have ever seen any of the magazines I paid for if I hadn't followed through on my suspicions? Who knows, but based on what the cops said and what I found online, I suspect not. From what I've gathered, these guys are professionals and they "hit" a city and make a ton of money doing so.
No matter how good the story is, take a minute to check it out. I am VERY cautious and I came very close to getting scammed myself. If you are reading this after having been similarly scammed, do your civic duty and try and find the person and if their story doesn't add up, call the cops.