New Door-to-Door Sales Scheme Raises Red Flags

by ARLnow.com August 26, 2011 at 9:25 am 11,037 69 Comments

We’ve heard via email and Twitter that there’s a new door-to-door scam making its way around Arlington.

The sellers claim to be helping out “inner city kids,” perhaps by asking you to purchase books, according to tipsters. They also might mention something about “motivational speaking.” In the end, they ask for a large sum of money.

At least one resident called police after a visit by the salesmen. No word on which company or organization they claim to represent.

  • ClizzleDizzle

    “We’ll put a boot in their ass, it’s the American Way.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruNrdmjcNTc

    • KalashniKEV

      Damn right.

    • They are showing up at Watervue Apartments in Keller too. I was an idiot and let a young very energetic girl in my apartment bc she wanted to “use my table” to write. She gave the speil about public speaking and points by how much she wanted to win by knowing things about my career. She talked so fast that every red flag lingered and vanished for the time being. She didn’t want a check and kept on until somehow I was talked into getting to an ATM where she needed my receipt and signature from the ATM minus the part she ripped off and gave back that showed my balance. I haven’t been able to sleep since. I don’t know why I played along besides she was good looking and reminded me of doing the same door to door jargon growing up (though she was at least 28-30)

  • Yep

    They came to my place yesterday (N Ballston), knocked incredibly loud and continuously rang the bell for about a minute. When I opened (stupidly), the “kid” (who looked at least 30) was smoking and scartching his crotch.

    Shut that door quickly!

    • BerryBerryCold

      Why did you even open the door?

  • TJ

    This is nothing new…I’ve seen them before in Ballston/Bluemont.

  • JamesE

    Motivational Speaking?

    • CourthouseGuy

      Nothing wrong with living in a van DOWN BY THE RIVER!!!

      • JamesE

        God bless you, I was eagerly awaiting this response all day.

  • Laura

    These kids came to my door in May, I knew it was a scam when I asked for information so I could “present it to my company” to see if they could do a donation. They didn’t have any flyers or anything like that. Be careful! They talk a good game.

  • Bluemont Joe

    The police recommend asking any solicitor for their Arlington County permit that allows them to go door to door. If they have produce it, they are legit, if not call the police. It’s illegal to go door to door without one

    • KalashniKEV

      Do we have solicitor’s licenses?

      I think it would be pretty funny if you had to register and pay some fee to go door to door trying to make a living selling stuff but you can stay drunk on the corner begging for change all day every day.

      • Rebecca

        Actually I was in court last Friday (traffic) and the first case was a panhandling case and she clearly stated that was illegal in Arlington.

        • Just the Facts

          @Rebecca: You must have misheard or misunderstood something. Panhandling is not illegal in Arlington. And if it was, it wouldn’t be heard in Traffic Court.

          What probably happened was that a panhandler was walking out to cars to get money and was charged with being a pedestrian in the roadway, which is illegal…and would be heard in Traffic Court.

    • Bob36

      ACPD also says you shouldn’t answer the door if you’re not expecting anyone.

      And that when they investigate these folks, a lot of them have warrants.

  • Nunya

    a guy stopped by last week. very friendly and personable. he was selling eco friendly cleaning solutions. i asked him for his website. didn’t have any [imagine in this day and age]. i asked for at least a brochure or something and told him i’d check into it.

    closed the door and filed in the circular file.

  • Steve

    If they dont do this, then we’ll have “flash mobs” here. Better this than that.

  • ArlingtonSouth

    After serving a tour of duty in Baltimore, this sounds very familiar.

    I used to look forward to the monthly visits from the “Baltimore Inner City Police Football League”, the “West Baltimore Reading Foundation”, the magazine sales to support “Baltimore School Repairs”.

    And yes, several times the crack-addicted soul on the other side of the peephole was so obvious that the police didn’t even have to pause to know what was going on before they were cuffed.

  • kate

    This happened to my friend in May over in North Highland (between Lee Highway and Spout Run).

  • Jessica

    Happened to me yesterday. Said he was from New Orleans, and if he earned a certain amount of “points” he’d get sent to some conference in Michigan. Hard to understand all the mumbo-jumbo, but perhaps that was the point. Bottom line he wanted $295 for FOUR children’s books? Say what? Thanks for the report ArlNow – you guys are always on top of things!

    • T.sa

      The ‘company’ name on the ID was ‘Bearer…..LLC’

      A couple of them also came to our neighborhood, off Washington Blvd. He was holding quite a long list of names on that list (real? fake?). He said he’s from Oakland CA. The way they operate with magazine sub and donation sounds so complex that I wasn’t sure if this is legit (real organizations make it really simple and easy for donations). Anyone else remember what company they are from?!

  • Clarendude

    These things have been going on eerywhere as long as there have been doors to knock on. I like the one in Office Space where he turns out to be an unemployed software guy (but making more money going door to door).

  • kelli

    Sounds like the sane two I encountered on Tuesday evening in the Pimmit Hills section of Falls Church. They were soliciting in front of the 7-11, asking people to buy books so that the money could be donated to inner city youth programs. They seemed annoyed when I asked if they had a website where I could learn more about their organization, and they gave me some illogical, foolish rant about homeless kids.

  • Rebecca

    See if they are on this list

  • Dezlboy

    A kid came to my door several months ago selling candy, books, etc. He admited to me he was just trying to sell stuff to get enough money to go to King’s Dominion. I admired that he would work for the funds, and he didn’t misrepresent himself. I gave him five dollars.

    • Lee-n-Glebe

      While I agree with your action in spirit, know that these kids are often connected to gangs who send them around because, well, they’re kids. What you may not have seen is him getting picked up later on by a thugmobile.

      Not saying that it happened for certain, just something to keep in mind.

      • Dezlboy


        I tend to think that thugs wouldn’t deal with the small amounts of funds this kid is going to collect. On the other hand, if all the thugs go to King’s Dominion, maybe the banks will be safe for one day! 😉

  • V Dizzle

    Some “girls” were selling boxes of food by the Metro a few months back. I asked for the MSDS sheets on some of the ingredients that I couldn’t pronounce, and they couldn’t produce them. I called the cops. Some older woman was standing around. I think it was their handler.

    • CW

      LOL…I’ve not worked in food retail; is it common practice to keep MSDS sheets for your ingredients around?

      • V Dizzle

        All I know is they went crying back to their “lodge”, whatever that is.

        • Rob


  • PigPen

    Tell them you don’t take door to door solicitations, then hand them a notepad and pen and ask them to fill out their organization’s contact information and website if they have one, and that you’ll follow up on your own once you confirm their tax ID. If they seem dodgy or unwilling to do that, then call the cops when they leave. If everyone did this, most solicitations would stop b/c legit organizations wouldn’t want to deal with the hassle, and scammers would know they’re not going to get anywhere.

  • roquer

    This happens in Arlington once or twice every year. Most of these kids say they are from Chicago or some other inner city area. They have no visible supervisor as they are dropped off in various places. Nonetheless, they are required to have a solicitor’s permit, (only cost $5), but they never do. The County likes to know who is parading around trying to sell things in case they turn out to be criminals. Nice to know an ID. However, most don’t have the permit.
    The best way to not deal with these folks is don’t open the door. When you open your door, you have left the protection of you, & your home to whoever is outside your door. Open your door to those you know are coming, otherwise, keep it closed.
    Most County residents, however, believe they live in Idaho as opposed to the width of a river of near the murder capital of the world. Stop believing this, and you will become far safer.

  • TGEoA

    Michigan? I wouldnt wish that on even AllenB

  • CW

    Answer the door naked. Problem solved.

    • JamesE

      I never answer the door unless I an expecting someone because I am usually in my underwear, and probably still in my underwear even if I am expecting someone.

  • Post the property. No tresspassing. No soliciting. If they still come knockin’, open the door holding your shotgun. Or, if you have a big dog, let his head be the first thing that pops out when you open the door.

    • .

    • Bluemontsince1961

      Do what you have to do. My neighborhood was plagued with these scammers the past couple of years, but so far this year they haven’t shown up. The last time one of them came around and I said “no thank you”, I came out the next morning to find a nail in the sidewall of one of my tires. Maybe I should’ve had surveillance cameras, if I had, I could have played the tape and then turned the tape over to the cops.

      • BM, that stinks. I’ve have hunted him down if they vandalized my stuff.

        • Bluemontsince1961

          Yeah, but unfortunately I don’t own a gun and don’t have surveillance cameras up and by the time I discovered it, the little trash heathen was long gone. Now when I firmly but politely say “No thank you” to them, I stay right there so they know I’m watching them until they’ve gone up the street. Doesn’t say they didn’t sneak back later that night and did the deed, but does let them know they’re being watched. The handlers of these yahoos are the real criminals, recruiting these characters to scam the public.

    • NOVApologist

      We have had trouble with the inner-city magazine kids for the past few summers. My wife called the non-emergency line about them once and ACPD seemed less than interested and told her she could submit a formal written complaint and they would file it.

      The big dog thing does help. Our dog is 190lbs and while very sweet in person, he does growl and bark when a stranger comes to the door.

      • Bluemontsince1961

        Sounds like you own an Old English Mastiff. A buddy of mine had one for 12 years. Total mush with his family and those he knew were friends, but pity the intruder that ever came around his hour.

        • NOVApologist

          St. Bernard actually. But yeah – he adores those he knows but is skeptical of anyone he doesn’t know approaching the house.

          • Not trying to be racist, but I’ve noticed certain ethnicity people (expecially young ones) are afraid of large dogs. If you have a large dog, it would certainly help with this situation.

          • Not Steve85

            Canine-ist comment

          • Maria

            As has been noted here before, if you have to start a sentence with “not trying to be racist, but…”, it probably is. Just a thought.

          • Sounds like you are stirring up trouble instead of contributing.

          • Ted Williams

            It may be “just a thought,” but it’s a ridiculous thought.

          • Maria

            I’ve tried to respond to this twice, and it won’t show up. I don’t know why. I’ll just say that I can’t see how what I said is stirring up trouble. I was providing information.

          • Bluemontsince1961

            St. Bernards are one of my favorite breeds. Sounds like you have a real pal in him.

  • Abe Froman

    Yea, they were in Ballston yesterday. Dude set off my dog who was napping in front of the storm door window and when my wife went to investigate, she slammed the door in the kid’s face befoe he even got the first word out.

  • Ray

    Solicitors sure seem to get people upset around here.

    You open the door, hear their pitch, tell them you’re not interested, close the door. Or just don’t open the door.

    I don’t see any reason to call the cops or send your dogs to chase them (as one of my neighbors recently did).

    • Post your address. We will send them over to your place.

    • South Arlington

      There is a difference between a scammer and a legit solicitor. I imagine that is what gets folks “upset.”

    • Skeptical

      It can be pretty damned upsetting when the “solicitor” pops off on you on your doorstep trying to intimidate and guilt-trip you into listening to his pitch, as happened to me earlier this spring. As you can imagine, cops were called but were not able to locate the little scuzzball on a tour of the neighborhood. It was another one of those “supporting youth” things from downstate, and he actually had a name tag listing an organization that had a site on the Web, though what they were offering was completely unclear.

      I got the motivational speaker types here Southside, though mine were pretty clean looking and well spoken young males (a pair). They went on their way when told. Essentially, there is almost no way to make a legitimate living going door to door in the digital age, so these are all bound to be scammers.

    • NOVApologist

      I have no problem talking to them. I figure if they can suffer the indignity of constant rejection and slammed doors they probably deserve a little consideration and time. Some of them are fine, but others are very aggressive. The last one we had threw stuff and yelled when I balked at paying the ~$200 he was asking for a “donation subscription” to an underprivileged kid. I told him I couldn’t remember ever paying more than $20-$30 bucks for a magazine. He threw his clipboard down the steps and then from the sidewalk accused me of treating him like sh1t and that “$20 is the kind of money you give to a fvck1ng bum on the street!”

      • Bob36

        Next time, show him a photo of a kid starving in Ethiopia and tell him you’d donate, but the money would come out of this kid’s mouth. (Of course, that’s assuming you actually donate to World Food Program, MSF, OXFAM, etc.).

        OTOH, easier to just ignore the knocking, call the police, and let the dog bark.

      • jjsergent

        THat happened to me too — some guy asked where my butler was and my rolls royce (we live in a 1939 typical brick colonial in waverly hills!), and then asked me for all this money to help the youth. I told him I would give him $20. He was deeply offended. I went to get the money anyway, and when I returned, he was gone… already down the street knocking on my neighbor’s door!

        PLEASE EVERYONE, though, when you see a cub scout or girl scout in uniform selling popcorn and cookies at your door, please be nice… please?? I have to pound the pavement with my son every bleeping year…

        • PBJ

          Why on earth would you want to give someone $20 just because they harassed you for money? Esp. when there are so many reputatable charities?

          And don’t you think now is a good time to teach your scouts that in the world of the 21st century, people no longer welcome door-to-door solicitiation? I sold stuff like this as a kid too, but that was then, and this is now.

  • interface2infinty

    Another MO for the vermin is take note of the ones that don’t answer, day after day or at the same time

    They wait for someone leave, go knock on the door to scam sell, but if no one answers, then hey its ok to break
    Thieves should be drawn and quartered

    • KalashniKEV

      I hope for their sake they don’t run into a lot of folks who just don’t answer the door for solicitors…

  • Arlington resident

    We had one of these people come to our door each night in Ballston for the last two nights.

    The first one had a permit to solicit, but he was asking for money to put himself through college. Don’t think the county would grant a permit to solicit for this.

    The next night a person came to the door asking us to buy books for some noble cause.

    We recognized both these guys are scam artists.

    Both were African American, young late teens to early twenties. They dressed conservatively in kaki pants, white shirts, and one even wore a tie.

    Should we report these guys to the police or have enough people already done this?

  • G::TheNativeArlingtonian

    I agree that man of these groups are merely scoping places out as potential robberies. Or they are collecting money for some shady organization or for themselves. Big dog and a 12ga worth of rock salt would be a good deterrent. That and not bothering to open the door.

  • From the only GOP in Arlington

    I did fall for this last year — ugh. I bought a subscription to Woman’s Day (I think) from a very personable young woman (who I gave iced tea to.) And yes she used the term “motivational speaking” and getting to go to a conference. Oh, dear. And I really wasn’t born yesterday but she was very very convincing and sincere.

  • Ted Williams

    I have a standard response to these parasites. I ask them if their organization is registered with the Combined Federal Campaign, the charitable donation umbrella organization of federal government employees. Of course, they don’t know if it is. I tell them that I make all my charitable donations through the CFC and if their organization gets registered, to let me know their CFC number.

    Works like a charm every time. Shuts them down cold and they really have no response to my points.

  • Chook

    This scam has been going on in Arlington for at least 20 years. Usually Baltimore kids. The van that transports them is around the corner and out of sight of the block that they are “working”. They keep the pressure on the richer, liberal jurisdictions (a la Arl, Falls Ch, etc) counting on white guilt syndrome. The fact that they return a couple of times a year for all this time shows that they have it figured correctly and are successful enough to make it worth the effort.
    If you don’t recognize who is at the door, don’t answer it. Aggravation at best and dangerous at worst.

  • Alex

    The last 2 weeks they’ve been all over the EFC and Williamsburg area and up in to FC and south McL. Looks like at least one older guy about 55 and 5-6 running it and scowling at everyone like we owe him something. Police help would be appreciated.

  • EOs a critic

    Some years ago we answered the door to 2 youngish men who were selling magazine subscriptions. We interrogated them quite a bit, but can’t remember asking them for their permits (tho we usually do). One guy had a great personality, and told us about how he was learning to sing–so we made him sing a song for us! And he was happy to do so! While my husband was talking I ran up and googled his organization. I couldn’t find much, except they did seem to be a group that sticks people in buses to make money, but it wasn’t clear who they were or why. We actually bought two subscriptions, kinda knowing we were paying more than the normal fee, but it was worth the entertainment we got! We did get the mags, and in fact, liked them so much we subscribed the normal way after that. Would probably not buy that way again, however!


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