Last night around 11:30 p.m. our doorbell rang. My spouse answered the door, and it was a young woman"freaked out"who had locked herself out of her apartment. She asked for $20 so that she could pay the locksmith and said that, as soon as she had paid the locksmith, she would go an ATM machine and return the $20.
Needless to say, she never came back.
I called the Somerville Police Department this morning to report the incident and was treated with condescension by the officer who took the call. I was told that this is an ongoing scam and that, unless victims report the crime immediately, there is nothing the Police can do.
I told the officer that, while I could appreciate his frustration that citizens are not reporting the incidents in a timely manner, I did not appreciate his condescension. Furthermore, I noted that there has been no public information about this scam. If the City and/or the Police Department had notified the public about the scam, citizens like me could recognize it and report it while it is in progress. The officer replied that there was nothing he could do about the lack of public information.
So I called Thomas Champion, Director of the Executive [i.e. Mayor's] Office of Communications. Champion told me all about the City's new 311 non-emergency service system, which is accessible to Verizon phone customers. (I am an RCN phone customer.) When customers (i.e. citizens) call 311 they will receive a tracking number so that they can track the status of their customer service order on the internet. This part of the system has not yet been implemented.
Champion said that my call was the first call had received about the grift. The Director of the Executive Office of Communications did not state that the City would notify the public about the I'm-locked-out grift.
white, female, late 20s
reddish hair, shoulder length, pale skin and dark eyes
thin build, thin face
clear local accent, though not a really hard Somerville one
wearing black, knee length, quilted parka, no hat, no gloves
called herself "Jen"