Often referred to as “Gypsy Scams,” the word Gypsy is NOT used to denigrate any segment of the population, but rather as a descriptive that those who perpetrate such crimes often do not stay in the same place for more than a short time.
The most common of these scams are either home repair, piracy or frauds that fall under the Bunco heading.
Home Repair: A non-registered business entity offers you a deal that’s pretty amazing.
The story is usually that they have “extra material” after completion of another job, so they are willing to “use it up” on YOUR job at a considerable discount.
It might be roofing, house painting, driveway paving, asphalt or blacktop work or some other home improvement related project. The end result is that you get what you pay for — or far less.
The work is generally shoddy and the products used are inferior or diluted.
If one of these roving work teams asphalts your driveway, the first rain is likely to wash away whatever they spread to momentarily look good.
Piracy: This usually involves an approach on the street and an amazing deal on products from a well-known and costly product line, at an amazing discount, of course.
“We just finished doing a show in Las Vegas and my boss told me to sell these few remaining purses at cost instead of going to the trouble of shipping them back to our manufacturing facility in Poughkeepsie.”
If you think that you are really buying Chanel No. 5 at $5 a bottle, sniff again. It might LOOK the same, but it is not even close.
Nobody sells a Rolex watch for $50 on a street corner unless it’s fake or it’s part of a home invasion robbery.
Prada, Gucci, Fendi, Brittania, Louis Vitton, Lazaro — $20 in a back alley? Run, don’t walk away.
Bunco: A swindle in which an unsuspecting person is cheated; a confidence game. Think of this one like a carnival game.
Bunco cons are often pulled on unsuspecting seniors. They run the gamut, depending upon the creativity of the fraudster. “I found this envelope of money, but I don’t have a bank account. I’ll share it with you if ….” might be how the stranger starts an interaction. Or, how about “that guy over there in the red shirt just won the lottery and he’s giving away free money …”
Of course four or five other “players” are yelling “wheeeee” and walking away with $100 dollar bills. They are not random people; they are part of the con. Or psychics or fortune tellers who offer to remove a “curse” in exchange for a payment.
There are no limits to the stories — and there are no limits to the reported damages. Some might lose $20; others have actually ended up dead.
The one thing all of these things have in common is that they come from strangers who offer you the deal of a lifetime.
You are made to believe that you are in the right place at the right time. In reality, you are in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Say it with me, people … “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.”
Drop by the Pahrump Valley Times offices, 2160 E. Calvada Blvd., for a copy of Leslie Kim’s latest book “123 Main Street … the Scamming of America.” Only $19.95 while supplies last.