SCAM ALERT: Distraction Scammers Targeting Unsuspecting Homeowners, Especially the Elderly

These crooks generally work as a two or three-person team, tricking and stealing from their victims

SCAM ALERT: Distraction Scammers Targeting Unsuspecting Homeowners, Especially the Elderly
Image: Pixabay
April 26, 2018

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein is warning consumers to be on the lookout for suspicious persons showing up at the door.

Law enforcement officials in Wake County have received multiple reports of "distraction scammers" posing as flooring salesmen (or similar product) and targeting the elderly.

How the Scam Works

These crooks generally work as a two or three-person team. In an effort to trick the homeowner and give them a false sense of reassurance, they often pretend to have met or done work for them previously. They may also claim to have known a close family member, or to have once lived in the neighborhood.

After gaining entry to a potential victim's home, one scammer typically engages the victim in conversation. Another member of the con team brings flooring samples into the home. Eventually, one of the group slips away to steal credit cards, cash, and jewelry.

Based on reports, the crooks will strike every few months, hitting one of two victims before moving on to another area or neighborhood.

Numerous Versions of This Con Have Been Reported

In another version of this scam, the con team consists of two women, one of them supposedly pregnant and in some kind of distress. They appear at a potential victim's door, asking if the pregnant woman can use the bathroom. While one crook engages the victim in conversation or makes a telephone call, the other (who may not actually be pregnant at all) collects valuables while pretending to use the bathroom.

Distraction scammers have also been known to masquerade as plainclothes police officers looking for an escaped prisoner, or utility company employees taking indoor measurements for home energy saving projects.

Always Use Caution When a Stranger Comes KNocking

Attorney General Stein stresses that all consumers—and especially the elderly—should always be extremely careful of who they let into their home. Remember, distraction scammers are slick, friendly, and good at their game. If you don't know or aren't expecting the person at the door—DON'T LET THEM IN under any circumstance!

Report All Suspected Scams Right Away

If you are contacted by a scammer, report it to the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division by calling (877) 5-NO-SCAM, or by filing a complaint online.