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A Con that's happening in JP | "Can you help pay for my car to be towed?"

I have been approached 3 times now by a well-dressed African American woman asking me for money to help her pay for a tow truck because her car broke-down. Each time she claimed that her car was a few blocks away and that she left her little kids in the car. The first time I was approached by her on Centre street across from one of the gas stations. She asked for a specific amount of money, $4.50. I turned her down and suggested she go across the street to the gas station to ask for help. The next two times I was approached by her while I was walking near or out of the Brewery complex and heading towards my car. I turned her down those two times and said I had heard this story from her before. The third time, I saw her walk up to a car with a young man at the wheel and bang on his window with some force. It seemed to scare him (much as it did me each time she approached me) and I didn't stick around for much longer to see what transpired. Each time this occurred in the mid-evening, 8-9pm. I have heard similar stories from several other folks and wanted to post about it, because people should not be helping her. I'm not sure if there is any crime in what she does but it is jarring and can be a little frightening if you are not paying close enough attention to what she's saying.

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Comment by Nathan Eckstrom on March 1, 2010 at 12:58pm
Same thing here, an African-American woman in her 40's asked me for money to pay for a locksmith. This was on the bike path next to Amory, between Green Street and English High School. She was smiling and friendly looking, but as soon as I said I couldn't give her any money, she split.
Comment by Caro on March 1, 2010 at 11:59am
I'm not sure if it's related, but I was sitting at City Feed on Centre a few weeks ago with my friend. During our conversation, I noticed a smiling, pleasant looking well-dressed African American woman in her 40s (also with short, but not cropped hair) sitting close behind my friend. She was watching us and met my eyes a few times. I noticed that she leaned down to the floor a few times, which I thought this was odd, but it never occurred to me that something weird was going on until my friend noticed that her wallet had been taken out of her purse from under her chair. Then I remembered this woman, who was acting strangely and was the only person who was near us when the wallet was taken. I reported it to the police, but told them that I didn't actually see her take the wallet. The policeman told us that someone else had been pick-pocketed at the same time and location.

I don't know if it's the same woman, but the description exactly matches the woman I saw. I hate to say to be on your guard of your neighbors-- but I guess, be wary if you are approached by a friendly looking, middle aged, well-dressed African American woman. And keep a really close eye on your bag and your coat pockets at all times!
Comment by Steven Jones on March 1, 2010 at 11:40am
I had a similar thing happen to me twice-- once in the Symphony area, and once on Boylston walking toward Stonybrook... a man approached me in broad daylight asking if I could help him out and give him some money that he needed to get his car towed. I just said "Sorry" and kept walking both times.
Comment by chris on February 26, 2010 at 10:22pm
This one has been ongoing for at least 3 years. I was caught off guard in 2007 at Forest Hills T station after work by thin man in his 40s asking for money so he could get his car towed... he tried the same thing on me 2 days later at the same corner without realizing who I was. I'll watch for this, thanks for letting me know
Comment by Diane Edgecomb on February 26, 2010 at 2:32pm
Had someone using a similar scam on St.John Street in the daytime. This was a man - fairly thin he looked a bit down on his luck and quite hardened. He said he needed gas money and had left his kids in the car. Why anyone would walk away and leave their kids in the car is beyond me! Scam written all over it.
Comment by Allie on February 26, 2010 at 1:35pm
She's been around forever - we call her "Fix A Flat" - her old scheme used to be asking for $4 to buy some for her flat tire. She's also asked me if I know a locksmith, several times. She seems harmless.
Comment by Sarah and Marc Beaulieu on February 22, 2010 at 6:26pm
In a somewhat related incident, I was approached by a man on Washington St in the S. End asking for gas money and said his car was a couple of blocks away. I turned him down as I sat in my car during the day. His girlfriend was on the other side of the car.
Comment by Daiva on February 22, 2010 at 4:53pm
I have encountered this woman on Boylston St. near City Feed months ago. She said her car broke down on Washington Street and the keys to her house and car fell in the sewer. The police and sewer department would not help her and she needed $4 more to get someone to help her. She was African American in her late 40s maybe 5' 6" Short hair but not cropped. When we didn't help she moved to a man on a bike and may have revamped her story.
Comment by Mimi Kantor on February 19, 2010 at 10:13am
Thanks for passing the word along Captain Greland. Yes, I would agree that she's in her mid-40's.
Comment by Captain John Greland on February 19, 2010 at 9:41am
I have sent your post to all of my Supervisors and Comunity Service officers

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