A Series on Con Artists: Types of Con Artist Scams Past Con Artists Current Con Artists

Sometimes 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 Past Con Artists. Be careful before adding people into this list, as there are genuine people in need.

See Con Artists entry for an overview of Confidence Scams in Davis, or take a look at Current Con Artists or Types of Con Artists.

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.

That you know: Elder Abuse Con Artist

In October 2010, the Davis Enterprise published a story about a scam that targeted the elderly in Davis.

Though several people were involved, they were lead by Marlo Lynne a.k.a Louise Compton (1967), a.k.a  Rojas, Sloan, Moser, Ruggirello, Almlie. Tall, blond, & charming, she manipulated her victims by posing as a doctor, a counselor, a cancer patient, or a downtrodden single mother. Public criminal records mention the 01/13/2010 case as "FRG Fraud". The investigators believe the financial thefts began in Spring 2006. Detective Michael Munoz was the handling officer. Marlo and two others were sentenced to prison for elder abuse and fraud in excess of $1.5 M.

The Davis Police Annual Report 2010 even mentioned this case:

Screenshot of public file: The Davis Police Annual Report 2010

Sympathetic people were supposedly drawn to her dramatic stories of abuse and/or illness. Others reported feeling manipulated through shame and supposed obligation. The Aggie had several reports on this case, here are two: 

Three arrested on suspicion of embezzling $1.5 million from elderly Davis couple

Fraud ring receives sentence

Car Insurance Scam

In July 2012, the Davis Enterprise published a 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 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

One of the most iconic Davis Con Artists during the early 21st Century was the Crying Girl Con Artist.  

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



"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.

  • This guy stopped me on the street outside the G St. Pub on May 13 around 7:30pm. Tall, African American, and very friendly. He said he was stranded in Davis and needed a few bucks for a train back to Richmond (he showed me his driver's license too). That day, I was dressed like the average student, and it should've been pretty obvious that I didn't have money to be giving away to strangers. He wasn't stopping older professor-types who look like they actually have the money, and that made me suspicious. Just before this, I was also approached in the same spot by a Caucasian man asking for money for food, and when I pointed him toward Davis Community Meals, he got angry and walked away. I don't mean to say anything bad about G St., but it seems to attract a lot of scammers. -StephanieRobinson

** 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

As of May 2011 "students" going door-to-door are asking for money for music programs. An 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.

  • Annually (the last three years running) people have come to my door "selling magazines" to raise money for something or other. This last year, my roomate purchased two one year subscriptions that were supposed to come with bonus prizes, and totaled about $150. Nothing has ever shown up. —MM
  • (As of 04-17-2012): I was said roommate, confirm that magazines never showed up. Some research on the company they claimed to work for revealed national-level shadiness. Sure, people shouldn't be stupid and order from these people but folks should really be talking about this more. By the way, they are back again. They're in East Davis as I write and I reported them to the police. For those who haven't met one of them, they're a group of 20-somethings, usually rather hyperactive (tweaker-ish), smell like smokers, claim to be in a public speaking thingamajig with a boys-vs-girls contest as to win some sort of trip. They'll pull out a rather well-used sheet of magazines and start taking your info down. The second you say anything about not being able to pay they lose interest and leave very quickly. If one comes to your door you can ask to see their permit. If they don't have it it's an obvious scam and you should report them to the police immediately. —KB
    • Same. They were always college-aged kids who wanted to sell me crap so they can win some dumb trip or something. Didn't buy anything from them because they sort of gave off this spoiled brat attitude. Wouldn't be surprised if they were conning people. Guess I'm only buying Girl Scout cookies now. —hankim

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

  • This is the old White van speaker scam. Like most scams, it's been around for years. I remember walking to lunch with a friend of mine in Berkeley about 20 years ago. We were stopped by guys in a real white van and they tried to sell us their speakers. We sent them to Meyers Sound just down the street. Told them that lots of hippie musicians worked there and would probably all be interested in their speakers. It's also common for wised-up victims to perpetuate the scam by selling their overpriced speakers on Craigslist for what they paid for them. —jimstewart
    • Update May 30, 2011. Two guys in their 20s talked to me from their car on Russel. Pulled over, saw the speakers, they opened the box for me, followed me downtown to WellsFargo, where I withdrew $200. Took one last look at speakers, and typed brand and model number into my iPhone. Google pulls up pages of fraud alerts. Told the guys no deal, and took a photo of their vehicle as they left.
      • Looks like you whited out the plate. The speaker scam is an oldie but a goodie. Report it... especially since you can connect a vehicle Daubert
        • Didn't white out the license plate, but was actually trying to photograph it. I was just a bit nervous I guess, thus the crappy image. The "talker" had short light blondish hair, light complexion. The guy in the passenger seat, was pale had some facial piercings, and didn't talk very much. previous poster
  • I don't get it. What's the scam? They offer you free speakers, then you take them...and then what? Or do they expect you to go over to their house to pick them up, and then kidnap you or something? —TheShah
    • I think they sell you crap speakers that are broken or very low quality for the price of new/good quality. —jsbmeb
      • Well, that's how the scam usually works. These people are claiming the speakers are free. That's a new wrinkle. I wonder how they get your money in this iteration of the scam. —WilliamLewis
        • The scam I was subjected to, is that the box and website show an MSRP for something like $2,500 USD, and here you have two guys offering to let go of them for say $500 bucks. So even if you argue them down to $200 you think you are getting some incredible deal, but it turns out the speakers are worth about $50, and they possibly might not even work. I believe that this is an actual marketing campaign, but just a couple of dudes, but an entire army across the US, that work for this company. They probably buy the systems cheap, and then market them off in this manner. Pure speculation on my part, BTW.

http://i118.photobucket.com/albums/o92/rankferal/photo.jpg <- 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 Craigslist. A particular case was documented on the Bike Recovery System page.

PG&E Lights Out Scam

This seems to be happening frequently in Davis as of 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 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 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.



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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

  • I think I bumped into him around the same time. I know for sure it was a Friday night. —hankim

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

  • I think I saw a African American guy go around door to door doing the same thing trying to sell newspaper or something, I wasn't sure if it was a scam or not. So I turned him away, especially since he had no catalog or anything, not even a sample paper. —ClarenceL
  • This guy just came to my apartment doing the exact same thing. I've turned people with the magazine-subscription type deal away before but I thought this guy was legit and felt like doing a nice thing. DO NOT BE FOOLED BY THIS KID. —Runnitarian
  • I've seen both! What's even worse is that I've given money to both! The Black guy came first. He was really nice and chatty, showing me the binder and the San Jose certificate. So I gave him 20 bucks. Several months later another guy (Hispanic) came around with the same story. Because I'm an idiot I thought it was some real program, I donated. After I gave the second time, something felt really fishy. He asked me to respond to an email that would come to me. I had to click to link so he would get his "point" for money for school. I asked him how he was sure I was going to get the email. He laughed and said with a smile "Oh you will. Don't worry". No email, but then again, I kind of knew it would't after he said that.

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

  • Me too. One came to my house and another stopped me at Nugget. I gave the 1st one money. They were selling Davis Enterprise subscriptions which never showed up. when I call the Enterprise, they never heard of this and I then knew I'd been scammed. I demanded my money back from the one in front of Nugget, but he took off running. —Aaron.Curtin
  • This has happened to me twice already, two different guys. Once was a few months ago, my husband answered the door. Second time was just this past Monday afternoon. The guy showed me a "certificate of admission" that was so worn and beat up I had a hard time reading it. He said the Davis Enterprise was nice enough to sponsor this program to help him pay for college. Then he kept telling me "look at all of your neighbors that have given a donation" and showing me a list of five or so emails from my "neighbors". When I told him that I, too, was a poor student, he insisted "just $5" maybe 5 or 6 times! This guy became desperate and annoying very quickly, it actually made me a bit nervous. —rachand1
  • Same exact thing happened to me recently, African-American male knocking on door and asking to donate by purchasing Enterprise newspapers for $10-$20 to support his college education at SJSU. He had a beat-up binder with a wrinkled diploma, emails of my "neighbors" that also donated (all were ucdavis.edu emails). He said he was only going to be around this week asking for donations, which is obviously a lie since the first person who reported this was in January 2011. I did not "donate", but he insisted that I just donate a few dollars, etc. Yeah, no thanks, can't fool me. Oct.4, 2011. — lovelovelove3
  • The hispanic guy was going around my apartment (September 10, 2011) and I opened the door for him. Definitely did not look like he was in high school. But anyways I ended up writing a check out to Chris Johnson... not sure if that's his name or some other person's but hopefully it will come in handy for someone else. I wrote him a check because there was another person the previous school year who was trying to get people to subscribe for Enterprise newspapers in front of Safeway... and I actually got the newspapers. So that guy was legit, but this other person not so much. —AW
  • I encountered a hispanic guy in my apartment complex (December 4, 2011). He claimed to be a senior graduating from Davis Senior High School I was initially thought that his story was true until I went to the Wiki. He claimed he just got accepted into UCLA. Let me point out that the UC App is due November 30 each year. There is no way he could have gotten accepted 4 days after the due date. He also gave me this ragged old binder to look at while giving me his speech. I didn't pay much attention to it but he told me to flip to the red page in the back. He told me that the Davis Enterprise will give him some money if he gets 15 people to sign up for a subscription. His speech sounds scripted, obviously not his first time, but polite.

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

  • A group was working Old North on Sunday night. The guy that came to our door was more aggressive than I've ever seen and became argumentative. When my wife declined saying that she had ordered before and never received the product, he cussed her out as he walked away. That said, I'm not sure these are "con artists." I think they're truly poor youth that are recruited by swindlers and dumped into our neighborhoods in vans. Mortgage salespeople in 2007 were more con artists than these annoying kids. —ScottLay

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

  • I don't think you need a permit to sell door to door. I've never heard of such an ordinance. If you are caucasian and he is black, he was probably upset about the fact that his ancestors were enslaved wereas yours weren't, which would make many people understandably bitter. It does indeed suck to be doomed to a life of poverty because of racial oppression. —ScottMeehleib
  • Davis City Code Ordinance 1972...." Requiring registration and permitting of all peddlers, solicitors and transient vendors will assist in protecting the public against persons of criminal habits or tendencies representing themselves as peddlers, solicitors or transient vendors."

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

  • Thank you for your illustration of Davis legislation. I never called anyone racist; I was simply explaining possible motivations. Although I was lucky enough to be born white, I can understand why black people might be a bit upset with the hand they've been dealt. They have mostly been fucked over in every socio-economic aspect you can think of. And us homo sapiens are basically a species of indifferent apes. It's quite depressing to anybody who can transcend ape-logic.—ScottMeehleib

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

  • I recently was encountered by this same man a few weeks ago on September 2012. He didn't aggressively come up to me and shake my hand or anything, but gave the same old story. I bluntly and quickly told him "no" before he could even finish what he was saying. —MichelleNguyen

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