North Carolina Department of Justice

North Carolina Department of Justice

North Carolina Department of Justice
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Don't be distracted by distraction thieves

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Distraction scammers use one of the oldest tricks in the book to victimize unsuspecting North Carolinians. While one talks, the other steals.
Law enforcement in Iredell County recently reported a rash of distraction thefts in their area. A pair of scammers, a man and a woman, claimed to offer tree-trimming services. While one of them engaged the homeowner in conversation on the front porch, the other sneaked inside to grab valuable items. The two may have been wearing electronic devices, allowing the inside scammer to monitor the front porch conversation and make a timely escape before the homeowner returned.
Distraction thieves sometimes pose as detectives, government employees, or utility company workers. The “woman in distress” routine is another time-tested variation. It exploits the homeowner’s desire to assist someone who is in pain.
Here’s how to stay focused and keep distraction thieves from victimizing you:
  • Demand identification and examine it closely.
  • Be skeptical of any stranger who asks to enter your home, and be especially wary if two people try to enter.  
  • Keep your back door locked so a scammer doesn’t have easy access while you are engaged on your front porch.
  • Don’t try to detain someone you’ve discovered inside your home, or offer resistance to a thief who resorts to using force.

If you think you may have been approached by distraction thieves, contact local law enforcement to report it.
If you’ve been the victim of a scam, contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s office at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM. For more information on how to protect yourself against scams, visit