Handy Hints

A parking lot scam for money gone wrong


There’s A Scam For Everything

I know what you are thinking and yes there are such things as a parking lot scam and schemes thought up from the best and worst scam artists around. When we go shopping around here it’s normal to see someone sitting on the ground playing the guitar or some other instrument hoping to make a few bucks.

In the past I’ve heard that’s just another way to earn extra money although some may think it’s a scam, especially if they have a sign that says they need money, but do they really? Who knows, if they aren’t approaching me I leave them to it and if I like the music I toss in a buck or two at least for the few moments of entertainment. It ends up being more of a judgement call at the end of the day, at least for me. I give someone credit for getting out there to share a skill with the world.

What are the latest scams?

I don’t know much about parking lot scams but I know that there is a scam for everything out there and we have to protect ourselves. The scams to avoid are the one’s that make you go hmm and scratch your head. If you aren’t feeling good about something ask for more information. One simple fact to remember is “If it’s too good to be true it usually is”. Just last week I read an article online about a job scam that has been going on for ages which is back up and running again in another city.

It had to do with going undercover as a secret shopper and a cheque gets sent to you and you have to cash it and instantly send the rest back before the cheque has cleared. I have to shake my head to wonder who would fall for this, but these people are slick. They know what they are doing and sometimes even the smartest person can get fooled. They prey on certain people and can tell what you are like just by having a conversation with you and they feed off it.

Types of Scams and Fraud

  • Identity theft
  • Payment card fraud – debit card, credit card
  • Mass marketing (you know those emails you get saying that you won 10 million dollars or that your lost relative left you 3 million dollars in an overseas account)
  • Telemarketing fraud – phone calls
  • Email fraud other On-line fraud

The list goes on and on and someone will always think up a creative way to get hold of your hard-earned money, so protect it. If you think you are being taken for a ride, call the police and see what they have to say. A criminal is a criminal. If you want to learn more about the different types of scams above and more you can check out the Royal Canadian Mounted Police site as they share plenty of information to keep you informed on scams and fraud.

The situation

It was a normal grocery shopping day for us, the sun was shining and we were engaged in a conversation about how much money we had just saved in the grocery store. I don’t know what it is but from the time we leave the grocery store right up until we get to our parking space that’s when we talk about our purchase and read receipts to make sure the prices are correct.

There have been a number of times when we have found a scanning error which resulted in using the scanning code of practice on the receipt. Sometimes we think we are swift when it comes to keeping tabs on the cash register but all it takes is to lose focus and you can miss a scan, thus a potential error.

While we were chatting I was loading our groceries into our vehicle. We had refrigerated items that we needed to get home fast because it was the hottest day of the year even though we had our insulated bag. 

As I finished loading the last box of groceries Mrs. CBB hopped in the vehicle and was waiting when this guy approached me. Here I thought my parking space was far enough away that we didn’t have to worry about dealing with people. Sometimes people park so close to my vehicle or do what I call “park stupid” because they just can’t get it right so I always park as far away as possible.

The guy was tall, mid 30’s, with long blond straggly hair wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey and blue jeans. He certainly wasn’t a parking lot attendant, but who was he? His approach was abrupt as I wasn’t expecting anyone to talk to me at my vehicle, who does? The most I ever say is, “oh here I’ll give you my quarter for your shopping trolley so you don’t have to wheel it back”. 

Now, I’m not an expert on scam artists but what I do know is this guy was dodgy from the moment he said “Can you….”. There was something off about him. Now, I don’t judge anyone as that’s not the type of person I am. If he needed help with his car (besides opening it up) I would have gladly helped him as I was fully equipped to do so. The problem, there was no car as we later learned.

My wife had the look of concern on her face and hid her purse under the seat, but even if he were to draw a gun or weapon of sorts I’m sure she would have just given it to him. I’m not a small guy by any means but I’m not Superman, a knife is a knife, a gun is a gun and both can kill. Warning, don’t pull a Crocodile Dundee.

She had her cell phone in plain view as well to make it seem that if she needed she could call 911 or the police for help. I know it sounds extreme but you have to be weary of strangers as an adult as well as a child.

We hear of auto scams where people take your attention away from what you are supposed to be doing then jump in your vehicle which you have the keys and purse/wallet in. In this case the vehicle had my wife in it.

What did he say? I know you are all dying to know by now. Probably on the edge of your seat biting your nails, with one hand in a bag of buttery popcorn, haha. I promise, I was open-minded and tried not to laugh.

Parking lot scammer: Dude, I locked my keys and wallet in my car across the road at Bulk Ban and I need $3.00 to take the bus home to get my spare keys.

Now, Bulk Barn is far across the road so who in their right mind would want to go there on the hottest day of the year to help him? (his way of thinking) They would likely give him the $3.00 or tell him to piss off. Nice target day to scam people though, brilliant.

Me: Really, that sucks!

Parking lot scammer: Ya, I really need some cash to get home so do you have $3.00 I can have?

Me: You know you can just run over to the oil and lube place and they likely have a Slim Jim kit in there or if you’d like I can call the police because they always carry one in their trunk. I can also meet you over there and see if I can help you out in any way if you like?

He is now visibly shaken as he kept digging a hole the more he talked.

Parking lot scammer: Oh, I didn’t know that (BS you didn’t)

Me: So how do you plan to get back if your wallet and keys are locked in your car and you have no money? How will get into your house with no keys?

Mrs. CBB– Hangs out the window…. I can call the police for you from my cell if you like? (waving it in the air from side to side but in a kind way with a smile)

Parking lot scammer: No no it’s OK, thanks anyways and was across the parking lot faster than a ferret up a trouser leg.

He gave a whole new meaning to “parking lot job” that day and as we drove off we watched him approach another guy putting his groceries away across the parking lot. My wife made a quick phone call to the mall security to let them know what was going on. As security came out he made a mad dash to a tree at the end of the parking lot, unlocked his pedal bike and away he went.

There could have been a million reasons why he needed the money. He needed medication, travel funds, clothing, food for himself or his family, alcohol, drugs, smokes, to pay bills, gas for a car…etc. The problem was he said it was for the bus with a story that didn’t add up.

So, in the end no one got hurt but the guy was already talking to another potential victim while we were making the call. He wasn’t going to stop there but I’m sure if people fell for his trap all those $3.00 donations would add up to a nice chunk of change at the end of his “work day”.

Sad part is, it likely won’t be the last time he is out looking for money while trying to scam someone. It’s also another sign of just how bad some people have it and they will do anything to make ends meet. Scams happen all over the world, don’t ever let your guard down.

When a stranger approaches you how do you handle that situation especially if they ask you for money?

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  1. My reaction would depend on how potentially dangerous/unstable I believe that person was. If he seemed normal enough and it was a well-lit place with other people around, I might just say, “I don’t have $3” and either get in my car or walk back into the store. But if it wasn’t populated and I thought he was unstable, I would just give him $3 since that’s what he asked for and hurry along. I’ve had someone approach me and my husband while I was holding my infant daughter…he wanted to help us load our groceries in the trunk for a couple dollars. Since my daughter was there, I told him to get lost. Thing is, I might have given him a couple dollars for nothing if he had just asked for that. But there was no way I was letting him linger around my daughter AND touch all of our groceries!

  2. Every day I encounter someone asking for money or something and I would go broke if I gave to all of them. But, there are times I feel the person is an “angel” so I give them a buck or two. Sometimes I will give them a water or food I might have in my cooler. Not all, just the ones I get a good feeling about.

  3. If I gave every person money I would be broke. But there are times I feel the person is an angel so I give them a buck or two. It is just the feeling you get. In my area there is not a day that goes without this type of encounter and they are not all angels.

  4. Ferret up a trouser leg! I’ll have to remember that one. I have had a similar scam where someone will come up and ask for a few dollars to buy gas to get home. When we were in the city recently, it seems someone was asking for money on every street corner. Like you, I have no idea what their needs are, but it would take an awful lot for me to panhandle. It would seem even a minimum wage job would be more rewarding, but what do I know?

    The absolute best panhandler we’ve ever seen came up to my husband at a gas station and offered to sell him a goat for $5. I did not see a goat and don’t know why we looked like we might need one, but he certainly offered one.

  5. There was one going in London a while back, they got the guy and convicted him. It seems the Pontiac Montana’s I think it was you can reach under the vehicle from by the drivers side front wheel and pull an ignition wire out. This guy was hitting those vehicles at the JLC, now the Bud Gardens and such places while people were in watching a game or a concert, then going up to folks trying to leave but the vehicle wouldn’t start(because he had pulled that wire)and offering to ‘help out’ farting around under the hood,and going to get a new part he just happened to have at home to start the vehicle and eventually re-connecting the wire. He would charge around $40.00 and up for his help…. Much less than a tow would cost for the dead vehicle. From what I remember about the scam he did get a fair number of people. A number of them were women with kids after a game at the arena and they just wanted to get home and get the kids to bed as it was late and dark…..
    You and the Mrs handled this very well…… Good job!!!

  6. Not a new scam, just a twist on one I experienced a few yrs ago. Parking lot guy asked for $12 to take the GO bus from a shopping center in Toronto to Oshawa. I occasionally rode that bus and knew that the fare was not $12; it was significantly less at that time. Bye, bye PLG… look for another sucker!

  7. Well handled, CBBs! I especially love the repeated offers to call the police for “assistance.” We learned from a Gavin De Becker book to put a hand out, stiff arm style as if to hold someone back, and say “no” before they begin to speak. It is extremely effective.

    1. I thought about that considering that he was coming up to me in the car park but I just can’t do it for some reason. Maybe it’s my ego but if they do genuinely need help, I will help them.

  8. Good you and mrs. ccb came out safely. Applauds for your smartness and real time thinking which helped you out of trouble. There is no reason to not to help but one must know if the person is legitimate and really needs help, which is tough in case of strangers

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