Mount Washington Residents Warn of Magazine Subscription Scam

Residents says youths posing as students of Franklin High School may be trying to scam residents.

Several Mount Washington residents have in the last week raised suspicions about young adults claiming to be students from Franklin High School, who have been going door to door in the neighborhood pretending to sell magazine subscriptions for a school fundraiser.

Residents have reported that the alleged scammers--who appear to be high school aged or slightly older--have appeared at their door after dark, saying that they were raising funds to restore arts programs at Franklin High School.

In an e-mail to Highland Park-Mount Washington Patch, one resident said that the two youths did not attempt to prove that they were affiliated with the school in any way.

"They went into a spiel presenting themselves as my neighbors, from "over on San Rafael Avenue," saying that they're students at Franklin High School going door to door to try to get support from the neighborhood to help bring back the arts program at Franklin, which has been drastically cut because of budget reductions," the e-mailer said. "They finally got it out that they were hoping to sell magazine subscriptions; they appeared nervous, and left quickly when I made it clear I wasn't interested. They were both well dressed, clean cut with medium-length hair and mustaches. One was significantly taller than the other--the taller guy did all the talking.  They didn't offer to show any sort of ID to substantiate that they were representing Franklin HS, no magazine subscription forms or promotional material of any kind."

Another e-mailer said that several Mount Washington residents have been approached by youths, claiming to be affiliated with companies called Top Marketing or News Paper Publication, who are attempting to sell magazine subscriptions in support of Franklin's arts program.

"I live in Mount Washington and in the recent week there have been several incidents of high school girls/and boys knocking on the door after dark, (at  7 p.m. and 9 p.m.), selling magazines to help with the Franklin High School's art program. The magazine subscription is for $25 and they showed no ID," the e-mailer said.  "I believe this is a scam since the company affiliated with them is unreachable. It's called "Top Marketing" or "News Paper Publication" with no credentials."

Officials from Franklin High School said that there is no such fundraiser being run by the school right now.

Officer Perry Scheerer of LAPD Northeast Division's Crime Analysis Unit said that the incidents described by the residents have all the markings of a distraction burglary.

"I think the residents suspicions are pretty good," Scheerer said. "It could be a distraction burglary, or these guys could be casing the area. They'll knock on the door and if somebody answers, they'll have a cover story. If no one is home, then they'll go around back and see if they can find an open door."

Scheerer said that it was particularly suspicious that the youths were going door to door after dark.

"It would be unusual for the school to have kids knocking on the door that late," he said.

LAPD Northeast in February warned local residents about , through which one suspect will disguise himself as a service provider and distract the homeowner, while another will loot the home.

A community alert distributed by LAPD Northeast states that the burglars will typically disguise themselves as former residents of the neighborhood, contractors or utility workers.

The alert also warns that the burglars tend to prey on elderly residents.

LAPD advises residents to not allow anyone into their home who seems suspicious and to call 911 if they encounter someone who seems like they may be running a scam.

Heather McCarthy May 07, 2012 at 08:53 PM
I have had this happen twice in the last month. One kid even pulled out $25 cash and said if we write a check for $25 he'd give us the cash as reimbursement. I don't know exactly what it was they wanted other than our checking account info and address. I turned them away. Another two kids claimed they were college students raising money for their books. Does this sound familiar?
craig May 08, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Was not sure what the kids were offering until they mentioned it was magazine subscriptions. One said he was at Franklin and the other at Valley College.
Sally Yoakum May 08, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Last week two boys about 18 were in our condominium complex at Arroyo Seco claiming to be in Highland Park highschool and trying to get money.
Starskull May 08, 2012 at 10:50 PM
FYI, from the FTC website re: magazine subscription scams: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/telemarketing/tel03.shtm Door-to-door sales: Beware of emotional appeals by someone selling door-to-door. For example, the student selling magazine subscriptions using the appeal that your sale will help him/her get a college scholarship or other such rewards. If you buy from a door-to-door salesperson in your home, and the purchase is more than $25, you're protected under the FTC's Cooling-Off Rule. The Rule gives you three days to cancel your order and receive a full refund. The seller must tell you that you have a right to cancel, and give you a summary of your cancellation rights and two copies of the cancellation form. Ask to see the required cancellation notice before you agree to buy. If the salesperson doesn't have it, don't place an order. The company is breaking the law.
karen serrie September 27, 2012 at 04:10 AM
I just had a guy come to my door at 8:30 tonight in Arroyo View Estates in Highland Park. I actually didn't answer the door and talked to him through an open window so our dog wouldn't start barking and wake up the kids. He claimed to be a high school student who lived on nearby Easy Street, wanting to be our newspaper/coupon book delivery boy. He could only take a subscription on the spot or in the next 30 minutes. I asked him to leave when my dog started barking, so my baby wouldn't wake up. After he left, or maybe not. I just shut the window on him. I Googled magazine subscription sales by Eagle Rock High School students and found this article. I immediately called 911. The kid was too slick and aggressive to be a high school student. A police car is already in the neighborhood looking around.


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