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Valley Scams: You Hit My Car, Give Me Money or I'm Calling 911

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Photo by borman818 via Flickr

Photo by borman818 via Flickr
Here's an interesting scam we heard via Jeff Berk of Watch2.org in Studio City. Last week, a resident of his neighborhood watch was on her way home from the grocery store and became the victim of an alleged car damage claim scam. From an e-mail to neighbors:
[She] was returning home from Ralph's on Coldwater & Ventura when she was waved over to the side of the road at Dickens and Van Noord by 2 men in a car who claimed she had hit their car at Ralph's. (They had likely followed her from Ralph's) The driver of the car exited his vehicle and approached the woman who never left her car. He pretended to call the police and told her that they would be on the scene in 45 minutes. The driver then demanded money for his vehicle's damage. At first, he first tried asking for $300 but he soon lowered this offer when she protested. She soon thereafter began to scream: "I am being ripped off; I'm being scammed." Nobody arrived to help. When the driver finally asked what cash she had on hand, she turned over all of the money she had in her purse, $23, to get rid of him.

The suspects are two white males, one around 50 years old and the other in his 40s. They were in an older black sedan.

Meanwhile in the West Valley, detectives have seen a pattern of Spanish speaking community members being scammed, some of their life savings. Suspects will engage victims walking alone and approach them, asking for financial help that will reap them benefits beyond belief.

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"One scam includes the claim that the suspects are in possession of a winning lottery ticket, but need the victim’s help to cash it," describes an LAPD statement. "Other ruses include: convincing victim’s that they have a sick relative and need money for their care; that they need help in cashing a check they are carrying; or telling the victim that they have gold bars worth thousands of dollars and will provide them to the victim in exchange for cash."

The group of suspects, mostly Hispanic males ranging from their mid 20s to 50s, have been working the Canoga Park area.

Anyone with information on these suspects, or who believe they may have been a victim of this group, is asked to call Topanga Area Detective Pam Pitcher at (818) 756-4820. During off-hours or on weekends, calls may be directed to a 24-hour, toll-free number at 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (527-3247). Callers may also text “Crimes” with a cell phone or log on to www.lapdonline.org and click on web tips. When using a cell phone, all messages should begin with “LAPD.”

Tipsters may remain anonymous.