Con Artists


tcm.jpgSometimes people like Davis Wiki User Han Kim offer a variety of easy ways to make money.

Some people use fictional stories to take advantage of helpful people. Here are some local Con Artists, sorted by general types of confidence tricks. Be careful before adding people into this list, as there are genuine people in need.

  1. Urban Development Solutions
  2. Elder Abuse Con Artist
  3. Car Insurance Scam
  4. Fake Health Inspectors
  5. Stranded Neighbor
    1. Local Examples:
      1. Crying Girl with a Train Schedule
      2. "Oakland Train Guy"
  6. Fake Fundraiser Con
  7. Interested Room-Seeker Con
  8. Cheap Housing Con
  9. Returning Merchandise
  10. Free Music Speakers
  11. Sale of Stolen Bikes
  12. PG&E Lights Out Scam
  13. Strategies to help honest people
  14. Other Cons, Ripoffs, and Shadiness

Urban Development Solutions

As posted on the Davis Police Department Facebook page (8/9/2013)

In June of 2013, and again in July of 2013, the Davis Police Department received complaints from two residents who appear to be victims of fraud. Both victims stated that an African American male, between the ages of 20 and 25 years old, standing between 5’6” and 5’8” tall with a slim build and dressed nicely came to their door as a solicitor wearing an ID badge around his neck. In each of the cases, the male stated that he was soliciting for Urban Development Solutions (UDS), a charitable organization that assists underprivileged youth. When the victims presented the male subject with their donations in the form of a check, they later discovered the amount of the check was altered to read a higher payment. In addition, the subject added his name to the check in order to obtain cash.

The Davis Police Department is asking anyone who may have contributed money to this organization to check their bank account to ensure the amount written is properly reflected on that check and that it has not been altered. If a community member feels as though they have been victimized, they are urged to contact the Davis Police Department or their local police department to report this crime.

The Davis Police Department would like to remind people to always ask for proper identification when a solicitor comes to the door. The City of Davis requires all door-to-door solicitors to obtain a City permit prior to walking through the community. If anyone feels uncomfortable with a solicitor, or they do not have the proper credentials, they are asked to contact the Davis Police Department.

Elder Abuse Con Artist

Elder abuse con artist living in Davis: [WWW] Marlo.jpg
Scammer MARLO goes by Compton, Rojas, Sloan, Almlie, Moser, etc. Tall, blond, charming, she manipulates and cons posing as a doctor, a counselor, a cancer patient, or a downtrodden single mother. In prison for elder abuse and fraud in excess of $1.5 M; released in 2011, now living in Davis/Woodland area. Sympathetic people are drawn to her dramatic stories of abuse and/or illness. Without conscience, she'll seek control, manipulating folks into doing things they never considered and inspiring great loyalty through shame and supposed obligation.

Car Insurance Scam

In July 2012, the Davis Enterprise published a [WWW]story about a reported car insurance scam that occurred in Davis. In the story, a resident parked his car on the street while visiting a friend. When leaving he was approached by a well dressed Asian man, approximately 40ish, accompanied by two females, who were driving a black van. They accused the resident of damaging their car which had been parked in front of him earlier in the day. They demanded $200 to repair the damage. The resident claims he was pressured into paying them $185 on the spot, even though he felt like he had not damaged the car.

Fake Health Inspectors

On July 7th, 2011, the Davis Enterprise published a [WWW]story warning of fraudulent health inspectors operating in the area. The individual will call the business, claiming that there is an inspection scheduled the next day. Be aware that legitimate health inspectors will usually NOT announce an impending visit, nor will they collect money, or try to sell you anything. Yolo County Environmental Health may be contacted with any questions or to report suspicious activity at (530) 666-8646

Stranded Neighbor

While people can easily be genuinely stranded (not everybody carries their credit card everywhere, and being broke doesn't mean you can't ask for help), the key thing that makes this a con is that the person does not actually intend to use the money they ask for to buy gas, a train ticket, or other way to get out of their predicament. Instead of simply asking for money, their falsehood in their circumstances and the intended use for your charity (and the implication that you can help them with one act and they will be okay) makes this a con. Charity is great and important, but charities that ask for money for a purpose and then use it for other reasons is bad, be it a large charity or a single person.

Example: [WWW]YouTube video of a news team following some panhandlers, including a “stranded” teenage girl. Some of these scamming panhandlers are relatively successful, estimated to earn up to $50/hr and may just be local kids/teenagers.

Local Examples:

Crying Girl with a Train Schedule

cryinggirl.jpgThe “Crying Girl" (aka: Jill Johnson) as confirmed below by various users.

Due to the large volume of postings related to Crying Girl, information about this scam has been move to its own page at Crying Girl Con Artist.

"Oakland Train Guy"

A nicely dressed, polite African-American man in his twenties or thirties approaches people telling a story of how he came to Davis for a workshop but got stranded here when his car broke down. He supposedly needs just a few dollars to make enough money to buy a train ticket back to Oakland. He flashes a driver's license to prove he's from Oakland, making the story sound legitimate. He's been seen on E Street on the sidewalk by the Orange Court.

** 2/21/2013 The "Oakland Train Guy" stopped me and two friends today on 3rd street outside of the Social Sciences Building (the death star). He gave us the same story as others have described and said he needed $17 for the Amtrak ticket. Collectively, he got $15 from us. Afterwards, I had a weird feeling about it and was told by another friend that he is a seasoned con artist in Davis. I called UC police and the woman on the phone sounded very familiar with him and told me they have to run him off campus often. I am annoyed that we got duped and don't want him to get away with it with anyone else. Beware!!

2010-06-01 11:03:56   Oakland Train Guy at it again on G Street and 2nd, Sunday 5/30 around 6pm —Byron

6/9/10 Train guy won again I saw a man give him $5 around 6:30 on 2nd st makes me wonder why do I work so hard when I could just walk around and lie to people.

Encountered him today (July 12, 2010) by Orange Hut downtown around 6:30ish. I almost believed him, too.

Sometime in 05/2011 - Looks like the guy is back. Approached me in front of the Art Building on campus a few weeks ago. - jiml

March 2012- He's still around, roaming the Silo area and Segundo North. —AlexTK

March 20, 2012: Approached me by the bus stop at U-mall stating that his car broke down, and it'll be in the shop for 2 more days. He needed to get to San Francisco by 4:30 and needed around ~$14 for an Amtrak ticket. Promised that if I helped him out he would help someone else out in return. I simply just said I didn't have cash on me (despite the crazy amount of groceries I just purchased) and he said, "I understand" and continued towards the ARC. —DeeptiNallapaneni

On March 20, 2012, I passed by the MU bus station and was approached by a well dressed black man who was over 6-feet tall wearing sunglasses. He would probably be recognizable by his dreadlocks. He apologized profusely for stopping me and my friend and seemed very sincere in his plea for money to buy an Amtrak ticket to return to Stockton. He said he only needed $7 more. I only gave him $2 but now I'm wondering if it was a scam. He shook my hand after I handed him the money. This was around 2PM. —catd

June 2, 2013: Approached by the same story that DeeptiNallapaneni had. At 12:00pm, African American guy walks up to me and my boyfriend at the Amtrak station, said his car broke down and he needed just $13 more dollars to get to San Francisco by 4:30pm. Helped him out by giving him $10. He promised that if I helped him out he would help someone else in return. Then he left, and we didn't see him get on the train. —candices

Fake Fundraiser Con

We've all experienced those door-to-door fundraisers. Elementary school kids sell candy, wrapping paper, or magazine subscriptions. Shadier, pushier teens and adults sell candy bars for $5 apiece to supposedly raise money for leadership training, summer camp, and what have you. Not surprisingly, these aren't always legitimate. While you shouldn't necessarily call the cops on your neighbor's 4th grader, exercise caution. If you're suspicious, it's probably for good reason.

As of May 2011 "students" going door-to-door are asking for money for music programs. An [WWW]article in The Enterprise reports that UC Davis and Sacramento State are warning people that no university-affiliated music program is doing anything of the sort. Chances are the con artists will be happy to switch their story up, so just because they're not claiming to be collecting for a music program doesn't mean you should let your guard down.

If you get a visit from these characters, contact the Davis Police Department. If you want to verify the legitimacy of fundraisers who come by, call the University Development Office at (530) 754-4438, or look up the phone number for whatever other organization they claim to represent. If you're suspicious but want to donate to the organization, contact the organization on your own and arrange to make a donation without going through a shady intermediary.

Interested Room-Seeker Con

William.jpgIn the late 1840s, the term "confidence man" was coined to describe [wikipedia]William Thompson

This usually happens when someone leaves a posting online for a room that is available for rent. The con artist usually poses as a foreign student and contacts the poster about being interested in the room and then sends a check that is a certain amount over the requested amount for deposit, first month's rent, or any other possible costs involved in adding oneself to a lease. Then the con artist contacts the poster and asks for the extra money to be wired back (before the check bounces) in order to purchase plane tickets. Once the poster wires the money, the poster is out at least a thousand dollars or so. So those with an available room for rent, make sure the check clears before wiring money to anyone. But a cleared check does not put you completely in the clear. Banks are required by law to make funds available within a few days but it might take weeks before the issuer's bank processes and clears the check. Before the check is cleared by the issuer's bank, your bank is basically loaning you the money.

Cheap Housing Con

High housing turnover and people looking to live cheaply will sometimes lead to a scam where someone posts a bogus house on craigslist or similar, and then charges some kind of "viewing fee" or "advance deposit". Usually the houses involved in this are recently put on the market for sale, which is where the con finds the info. In order to avoid, google the address and see if the house has recently been on the market. Also, as always, if it's too good to be true, it probably is!

Returning Merchandise

Anyone been asked to return something for a guy outside Target, or maybe elsewhere? Target requires an ID to return something without the receipt to keep track of how many times you do this to catch shoplifters. This guy claims he lost the receipt and forgot his ID at home (out of town) and needs to return some expensive razor blades...

Free Music Speakers

Who doesn't love free stuff? Well that's what these two shady characters are counting on when they drive around and offer you a free set of music speakers. The story is they just remodeled a house and they have these speakers left over, and you can have em. The men are both caucasian, in their late 20s or early 30s, one with black hair, one with reddish blonde hair and, if I recall, a goatee. They drive a late model black Ford Explorer or Expedition with Florida license plates. I have been solicited by them three times in the last couple years: first in front of the South Davis Safeway, then at the Shell station/In-N-Out parking lot, and most recently in The Marketplace parking lot.

The most recent time, I was loading groceries in my car when they pulled up, the blonde passenger rolled down his window, and asked me if I wanted free speakers. I told him I wasn't interested. He kept offering until I told him they had approached me in the past. The man paused and said, "and what happened?" I replied, "I don't know, what's supposed to happen?" and he said "I dunno, it's supposed to be fun" and directed his friend to move on and go to a different part of the lot. —ClarkVineyard

Thanks Davis Wiki! Got approached by these two guys today (they approached me near Bank of America as I was getting into my car and they were on the street (with cars behind them). I guess they thought I was a great target as I was wearing a t-shirt with a bunch of boomboxes on it. Unbeknownst to them, I already read about their little game. — —AlvinTsao <- Here's the photo

Sale of Stolen Bikes

With the abundance of bikes in the City of Davis, bike theft is an unfortunately common occurrence in town. Occasionally, stolen bikes may turn up for sale on sites like [WWW]Craigslist. A particular case was documented on the [WWW]Bike Recovery System page.

PG&E Lights Out Scam

This seems to be happening frequently in Davis as of [WWW]April 2014

A person claiming to be from PG&E will give you a call claiming that your power is going to be shut off within the next 2 or 3 hours unless you pay them the balance you "owe". When you claim to have made payment, they tell you there was a problem processing it. They are often very pushy and say that you must pay using a [WWW]MoneyPak card in order to stop your power from being shut off. This can be devastating to people who depend on power for health or other reasons. DO NOT be fooled! PG&E will never call you via a human call to collect money, they instead have a machine that calls you and asks for you to call them. Also they will not shut your power off until they have sent out a 14 day and 7 day notice. They will also have a machine call you to tell you that your power is going to be shut off and to call them.

To prevent being victim of this scam tell the person that you will call PG&E directly to "pay" any outstanding balance that might exist. Their number is (800)743-5000 for residential and (800)468-4743 for business. Never give out any information unless you are calling PG&E and know who you are talking to.

There are other [WWW]PG&E scams. As long as you remember to never give any information to a PG&E "representative" that calls you, then you should be fine. Never be afraid to hang up on these people and call PG&E directly.

Strategies to help honest people

2010-03-22 13:53:53   I have found that the easiest way to tell if these people are legit is to offer them the specific help they ask for. If they say they need money for a train ticket, I offer to buy them a train ticket. If they say they need money for gas, I offer to pay for their gas. If they say they need money for food because they are starving, when I am coming out of the grocery store, I offer them a loaf of bread. They usually get indignant and try to come up with some lame excuse of why that won't help them. One guy who claimed to be starving actually turned down a loaf of bread. Anyway, in all of the time I have used this approach, I have only come across one person in need of what they were asking for. —DavidGrundler

Other Cons, Ripoffs, and Shadiness


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2010-06-08 16:23:24   About two weeks before Memorial Day, I got hit up by a short, light-skinned Hispanic guy claiming to be on leave from the Army and trying to buy a train ticket home to visit his family. He seemed pretty legit, but you never know. Anyone else bump into him? —AdamV

2011-01-12 20:06:43   Guy going around saying he is a senior at Davis Senior High, trying to collect donations to help him go to San Jose State. He looks like he's in his early 20's shows a binder with a beat up looking "certificate of admission" to SJ State and some slips from my "neighbors" with emails and donations listed. Same thing happened a year ago at my old apartment some guy saying he got into SJ State. Just had another guy knock on my door while writing this doing the same thing, they definitely don't look like high school students. Anyone else seen these guys? Seems suspicious to me. —AnthonyL

Total scam. Also, colleges don't give out the "fancy" entrance diploma/entrance letter. You get the diploma AFTER you go to school and spend thousands of dollars. —farfelu5251

2011-02-01 00:29:25   On Monday, Jan. 31, 2011, around 10:15 p.m., two white males in their early to mid 20s with short hair were asking for gas money from customers pumping fuel at the Chevron station at 1601 Research Park Drive (next to KFC, south of the I-80 Richards Ave. exit). They looked quite a bit like another pair of guys doing the same thing a couple weeks prior, at the same station. It was funny that they solicited everyone but me this night, perhaps that they recognized the guy who offered them $5 last time. They were driving a newish white Dodge Charger with license plate 6CLC671. One was wearing red basketball shorts and a white T-shirt. Another customer said that they tried to sell a gift card to him. One even tried to sound desperate and ask for someone's floor change.

I hope that my suspicions are proven unfounded. —farrierson

2011-02-26 22:35:08   Capitalism is a con job. But it works. Most people are sheep ripe for the purchasing. Don't think you are special unless you've actually done a lick of good in this world, which is very rare. —ScottMeehleib

2011-06-02 17:44:44   The Davis Enterprise reported on Thursday June 2, 2011 about another door to door fundraiser scam, this time, the scammers are claiming to donate the stuff you give them to the UC Davis Children's Hospital. —ndah100

2011-06-26 12:38:41   The guy described by AnthonyL on 2011-01-12 was also making the rounds at Solano Park Apartments a few months ago. —dedelstein

2011-07-31 9:40:38   Look out for a young girl (about 8-years-old) who is being sent by her lurking mother to ask for money. My family was approached by her yesterday in the University Mall area. —elizabethforrestlambert

2011-08-04 12:45:14   Two guys pulled up trying to sell me speakers at the Wells today, obvious scam. The Wells Fargo staff was pretty courteous but have to agree — rather hard to catch these criminals. They skirt the law and are scum. —shraken

2011-08-14 22:20:34   There were people in front of Trader Joe's selling candy. I've seen them do the same thing at Safeway. Legit fundraiser or con? —hankim

2011-10-12 21:11:21   A "tall, black guy" came by my building knocking on doors asking for money for school. He stole half of a neighbors pack of cigarettes she keeps on the table after he was turned away. —OliviaY

2011-12-14 15:59:29   There was an african america gentlemen who said he was a former convict going door to door selling magazine subscriptions with a company called D&T Connections, or something like that. I am not sure it is a scam, but door to door sales are shady none the less. —ChrisDietrich

2011-12-15 15:47:42   I live in West Davis and have had to two people come by "selling magazines" this week after dark. Even if they really are selling magazines I think it still counts as a scam. Also, I think you need special permits to go door to door selling stuff in this town. They were both rude and became angry with me when I told them that I would not be giving them money and one of them insinuated that I wasn't donating because I'm a racist. My roommate thought it was funny but I think its disturbing when people come by at night asking for money and getting mad. —MikeyCrews

and it goes on to say "Sec. 18-2. Uninvited entry prohibited.
The practice of going in and upon private residences or residential property in the city by solicitors, peddlers, hawkers, itinerant merchants and transient vendors of merchandise, not having been requested or invited to do so by the owner or occupant of such private residences, for the purpose of soliciting donations, contracts or services, orders for the sale of contracts, services, goods, wares or merchandise or for the purpose of disposing of, or peddling, or hawking the same, or any of them, is prohibited and declared to be a nuisance except as provided for in this chapter."... the chapter goes on to say that you need the permits and you can't do it after dark.

Your point about racism is barely worth responding to. To say that it's justifiable to call someone racist because they're a different race than you is racist itself. Also I don't think this is proper wikipage for discussing socioeconomic disparities. —MikeyCrews

2012-01-26 19:19:40   Ran into a lady near the UMall ATMs. She had a cart with a gallon of milk and asked for money. She said she needed food for her children. She looked like she needed the help, but I couldn't tell. Anyone else? —WaylandLee

2012-03-06 01:45:18   Recently an African American man aggressively came up to me and shook my hand and gave me the old my-car-is-out-of-gas-my-wife-and-baby-are-in-the-car sob story, and asked me for money. His brother (whom I doubt is his actual brother, likely an accomplice) follows him around with a phone and gives a home and cell number, both of which I suspect are fake. He was hanging around the MU last time I saw him, don't know if he's still around. —AnthonySheu

2013-04-28 08:34:07   Has anyone else seen that black guy (early 40's) hanging around 3rd Street right off of campus trying to sell his music? I see him walking between Pho King and the off-campus bookstore at least once a week trying to get people to buy one of his CDs. He was pretty nice the first time we spoke but he immediately lost all interest as soon as I told him I didn't have any cash. I didn't think much of it until I heard someone ask him to sing something, to which he replied "It's techno." It just seemed a little off to me.

I might have to dust off my CD player for the next time he approaches me. —Darkfallin

2014-04-22 14:21:18   The SJSU guy that goes from door to door was last seen here in North Davis on April 2014. He is a Hispanic guy that is about 5'5 or 5'6 around 180 pounds, and he has a white binder with 3 pages in it. He dresses like a guy who is into the urban fashion with a basketball cap(new era) and colorful shirt and shoes. He goes off and says there were neighbors who donated and pointed them out but it was complete bull since I saw him go to those doors he pointed at, and NO ONE answered. He will be very friendly to you and ask you for cash instead of sending it in, but once you deny him, you will see his true personality and how much of an idiot he is.

Please don't fall for his trap. I didn't because he seems fishy for me, and I can sense his scam miles ago. Tell your friends and neighbors. He has been doing this for a long time. —JohnsonCart

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