How the scam works:
Imagine you are shopping on a busy street. As you are walking, carrying your purchases, you see someone right besides you hop on a bike and ride away, followed by a person yelling for help to get his/her newly stolen bike back. If your gut instinct is to drop your things and give chase, think twice. It’s not just bicycles though; sometimes the “thief” will have stolen shopping bags or a purse. Again, do not give chase.
The thief chaser scam has been going on for years. Once you’ve dropped your bag to chase the “thief”, the “victim” grabs your belongings and takes off, meeting up with his accomplice at an agreed-upon location. You are, of course, out your purchases. This scam has been heating up again with the preponderance of holiday shopping, often for high-ticket items, that occurs this time of year.
How to avoid:
If you spot a “theft” in progress there are other ways of being a Good Samaritan than dropping everything and giving chase. You can offer to call the police for the victim and then stick around to give a witness statement. If the theft was legitimate, the victim will be more than happy for you to do so; if these are scammers you’re dealing with, often the mere mention of the words “call the police” will cause them to depart the scene rather quickly.
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