January 9

The door-to-door, "locked out of my house" scam



This tale of a current urban scam was sent in this afternoon by Myra. It’s virtually identical to one that our sister site My Green Lake reported on in September:

I live by Roosevelt & 75th. Around 1:30 today a man claimed that he and his boyfriend were new to the neighborhood and they were locked out of the house. He said his boyfriend worked for Microsoft and he worked for UW. He needed $3 to pay the locksmith, but his wallet was in the house and he was on his lunch break. I thought $3 was manageable so I gave it to him. Then he said he needed $13 and I said I didn’t have cash, but that my boyfriend would be home soon and I could ask him. He claimed his name was Patrick Lewis.

He said he would be right back with my cash. After thinking about it, I realized that the locksmith would have waited for him to get his wallet out of the house for payment. Or the locksmith would have billed him. Nonetheless, I was bilked out of a small bit of cash, but I thought I send a heads up to you since we’re in the same neighborhood.

Thanks, Myra. In the My Green Lake scam, the man supposedly locked out asked for $75. Amy, the My Green Lake editor, noted the locked-out scam was reported in October 2008 in the Central District News.

The man introduced himself as a new neighbor living in the condos next door, which are actually townhomes. The man proceeded by saying that his partner is caucasian and works for Microsoft. Then he explained that he locked himself outside and needed to pay the locksmith $25 but he only had $21. He asked if my boyfriend could give him $4.

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Sara W

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  1. I think I had a visit from Patrick around 5:00 a.m. in the Eastlake neighborhood. I talked to him through the security door. He was a thin Black man with a bike (!), saying he lived in the bldg next door, had locked himself out, “I’m sorry, I’m gay,” wtf. The locksmith needed $25 and he had $23. I listened until the part about 25 and 23. I totally disengaged. Fifteen minutes later, he was not outside waiting for the locksmith next door. I’d rather be trusting, but this is the reality of city living. I’m kind of creeped out by the way he rapped on my front window.

  2. This morning, Patrick decided to try something new. He was standing at the I-5 off ramp at 45th, with a empty gas can, dressed in slacks, collared shirt and tie – asking for money. I rolled down my window and told him “patrick, get a job – the whole city is on to you and your scams”. He just glared at me, but the more people that are aware of him will hopefully mean that he will stop getting free money…

  3. @Lisa B, don’t be naive. Any city has cretins, and they do show up at peoples front doors. In the 1940’s my great aunt was attacked in her home, because she innocently answered the front door, even though she did not recognize the man outside (thru the peep hole.)

  4. Patrick! He came by my house twice when I was in college, next to Seattle U. Delivered the old, “It’s okay, it’s okay, I’m gay!” reassurance when I peered through the chained door. He had gotten a few bucks from people at other college houses I knew in the CD, and after he delivered his spiel, I said, “I would give you something, but you still owe my friend Danny from the last time you got locked out!”

  5. Jimgoose and youvegottobekidding are right. Lisa B. and andy don’t get it. I’m going to guess they were raised in some whitebread suburb and never learned the respect for potentially dangerous situations that someone growing up downtown, like me, learned early on. Opening the door to a stranger is little different than leaving your doors and windows unlocked. I just hope they learn that before they become a news story.

  6. Lisa B. and andy, you’re incredibly naive. In the last six months, three women in the Seattle area have been raped by strangers who knocked on their door — one, right in front of her kids. Two guys in North Seattle were beaten and robbed. It’s just not safe. I myself had someone I didn’t recognize bang on my door and then try to break in. I called the cops, who came right away and said the same thing: don’t open your door to strangers. Please don’t be so naive that you wind up another statistic. There are other ways to meet your neighbors.

  7. I never open my door to a stranger. I always say, “Who is it?”, and if it’s someone I don’t know, I tell them I can’t help them. Sorry, but there are far too many people going around with the intention of harming others. I know all of my neighbors, and we are friends, so no need to criticize my sense of community,

  8. I have actually been locked out of my house and had to call a locksmith to let me in. The locksmith came in with me, but first he asked me to describe where my wallet would be found once we were inside. I got my wallet/checkbook and wrote him a check for letting me in. The fee was about $60 as I recall, and this was back in 2000.

  9. Patrick Lewis came to our door (NE 56th Street and 12th Avenue NE) around 10:45 PM last night with the same story. I knew of the scam from our neighborhood email list.

    I enjoyed asking him questions about details, baiting him, and called my wife to come to the door, and eventually revealed to him that we knew of the scam because he had pulled it on our neighbors multiple times.

    He apologized and said “God Bless!” and left. We called 9-1-1.

    His story is identical, locksmith, Microsoft, UW, same name (!) etc. He’s been busy!

    I was tempted to yell upstairs, “Honey? Could you please bring me my badge and service revolver?” without actually claiming I was a cop (I am not), but fortunately I didn’t do this.

  10. Might be the same guy who last year was roaming the Kmart parking lot claiming to work for Microsoft, and needing money for a locksmith to get his keys out of his car??? Tallish African American, neatly dressed, but not “well-dressed.”

  11. Seriously? People don’t know NOT to give cash money to a stranger who knocks on your door? Wow. There are plenty of churches and local/national organizations who can divert $ to folks truly in need.

    I get the feeling that the people putting themselves, their families, and their homes at risk are the same ones who are giving hand-outs at intersections.

  12. if you don’t know by now never to give money to strangers who knock on your door, you deserve to get scammed… this isn’t exactly rocket science, folks…

  13. I got scammed by this guy shortly after I moved into my place in the CD the fall of ’08. Same physical description and locked-out story with the boyfriend & being harrassed in the neighborhood for being black & gay. I gave him about $3 in quarters.
    He actually came back a few months later, this time asking if I knew where Harborview hospital was. I pointed in the direction and told him what street to take. He asked how he would get there, and I saw what was coming, so I told him that I didn’t care and have a good night.

  14. There have been several cases of women opening their door and being tied up…I wouldn’t risk my and my families safety just so I can be a pollyanna neighbor…I agree with the above comment…meet your neighbors at block parties and gardening and individually.

  15. open the door and be a person. just dont give them money. being scared of everyone around you doesnt help anything, folks. have some guts and learn how to assess a situation with reason and courage.

  16. Lisa B, you are nuts if you are a woman opening your door to a strange man. Don’t you read the news? You can meet your neighbors at a block party or chat with them while you’re both outside working on the yard. Why on earth would you encourage people to put their safety at risk?

  17. It sounds like the same person came to our townhouse in the Int’l District about two weeks before Christmas. He said his name was Patrick and that he lived in one of the other townhouses in our complex. He was thin, black, and had dental issues. He asked for a few dollars to pay a locksmith because he was supposedly locked out. We told him we never carry cash and shut the door. We had been expecting a couple friends to come over around the same time, so we stupidly opened the door for him.

  18. this same man came to our house on New Years Eve
    with the same $3 turns into $13 situation. He claimed to be new in the neighborhood (Bryant) and posed as the janitor of Assumption School. New neighbor…a little bubbly…what the heck? Even told
    me “I’ll be right back, and I’ll restore the faith in the (enter cultural term here) man”. Did nothing but dig a deeper hole if you ask me.

  19. jim goose – you’re contributing to our society’s lost communities with that attitude. Believe it or not, there was a time when people knew who lived in their neighborhoods and could trust one another. That trust however, came from the knowledge that you knew you would help out a neighbor if they needed it and therefore believed your neighbor would do the same for you. Distrust and fear of others breeds your kind of cynacism and I’m sorry for you.

    Not opening your door to strangers might save you three dollars, but you might miss out on meeting your new neighbors (real ones), hearing about a neighborhood get-together or helping out someone who is truely in need of assistance.

    What you should be calling for, Jim, is for people to start being a bit more cautious. Saying to those “neighbors,” “I’m sorry, I don’t have any cash on hand!” or “If you ask the locksmith to come knock on my door when he’s here I’d be happy to help.” or simply, “Gosh, I’m so sorry. What house do you live in again?”

    If we have at least a recognition of who lives in our neighborhoods, then scammers would know they couldn’t try this scam, and they wouldn’t.

  20. Real question is why do these huckleberries answer the door for people they don’t know? That’s what you have a peephole for. If you don’t recognize them, don’t answer. Don’t be suckers, please.

  21. When one of those guys shows up at your door, tell him just a second, then close the door and call 911 and tell them that one of the door-to-door need-to-pay-the-locksmith scammers is at your door right now. The police will be there lickety split to try to get him.

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