A note from LAPD Senior Lead OFFICER Maria Gray: Traffic Accident Scams

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OFFICER Maria Gray
Senior Lead Officer for Basic Car 8A13, BrentwoodArea
Los Angeles Police Department
West Los Angeles Division
(310) 444-0744
30469@LAPD.ONLINE
www.crimemapping.com

June 6, 2018

Traffic Accident Scams

During our weekly Crime Control Meeting, it was revealed that detectives believe there may a crew ofscam artists targeting drivers throughout not only the Brentwood vicinity, but also, the entire West LA area, if not the entire City.

It happens like this… an unsuspecting driver leaves a parking lot after shopping at a commercial establishment (most recently, a shopper leaving the Ralph’s market at Bundy and Wilshire was targeted but thankfully, she did not fall for the scam). After a minute or so, the suspect’s car will drive up behind them or pull alongside them and begin honking frantically and yelling for the victim to pull over. When the victim does, the suspect then approaches the victim usually while the bewildered victim is still sitting in their parked car. The suspect then insists that the victim just hit their car in and claims that the victim is now trying to leave the site of the traffic accident, essentially, accusing the victim of a Hit & Run.

The suspect typically will use flailing arms and loud accusations intimidating the victim and claiming that he’s going to call the police. This intimidation serves to get the victim to ultimately comply with his demand for money to ‘cover the deductible’. There may even be a bit of paint transfer as part of the scam to further convince the victim that they unwittingly hit the suspect’s car. Or, while the victim is dealing with the suspect’s accusations, a second suspect will come up alongside the passenger side of the victim’s car and remove their purse from the front seat. This is actually an old modus operandi in which they often, but not always, target elderly or lone drivers.

At the time of this note,there is no suspect/vehicle description to share. A couple of the incidents involved lone Males,either of White or Hispanic or Middle Eastern decent. The car descriptions have been variable.

If you suspect that you are being followed or if you find yourself being directed to pull over by a total stranger, please take a deep breath and continue to drive to a well-lit location: ideally, a police station, or a gas station, populated strip mall, or any well-lit, busy, location where there will be many eyes. Do not drive to your home. If or when you do decide to stop make sure your doors are locked (you should always drive with your doors locked anyways) and have your phone in your hand ready to push 911. And don’t worry about their accusation of‘Hit & Run’… If you can articulate that you were seeking to find a safe place to pull over, it will likely be considered as reasonable and understandable to police. In fact, ifyou believe that you’re dealing with one of these scammers, calmly tell the suspect that you are calling police, and then do so. This may make themscadaddle and leave you alone. Let them go, but try to be a good witness while you wait for police to arrive: physical description,license plate, vehicle description, etc. Thank you.

All the best,

Maria

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