Retired police officer Ed Keane stopped by the office of The Riverdale Press on Monday to recount a personal experience which he hopes will serve as a cautionary tale for his neighbors.
Recently, he was in his parked car across the street from the post office on Riverdale Avenue near West 260th Street when he was approached by a light-skinned African-American of medium height, but very thin.
The man leaned in to the car window and mentioned the name of a woman, hoping Mr. Keane would recognize it. At first, the Skyview resident was taken in, but as the man told a tale of woe about a disabled car and put the touch on him, he became suspicious.
When no money was forthcoming, the scammer became belligerent, shouting “You stupid a - - hole!”
“No, I’m a smart a - - hole,” Mr. Kean replied.
Later he learned that an elderly friend hadn’t been so lucky. The same con man caught up to him near Burger King on Broadway and intimidated him into emptying his wallet.
Another scammer has been operating along Broadway near West 234th Street. He is a middle aged white man of medium height and build, with a salt-and-pepper beard.
He employs much the same technique as his north Riverdale counterpart, attempting to establish a bond with his mark and then ratcheting up his appeal for money.
Mr. Keane offered several suggestions for residents in dealing with these characters.
First, be aware of your surroundings and don’t engage them in conversation. “Once you open the door,” he said, “they flood in.”
Second, when you walk away, keep them in your peripheral vision and try to stay in a busy public place. Don’t let them corner you in a dark corner.
Even if you have successfully avoided a scam artist, let the police know they’re operating in the area.