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.