Finding clever ways to scam students out of money

by Jack Sawyers

One day, late last September, I was lounging away an afternoon on my couch when I heard a knock at my door. Upon answering it, I was lambasted by two young men who immediately launched into a rehearsed sales speech.

These two hustlers, as I would come to understand them, proceeded to explain their purpose to me as they worked their way from my entryway to the living room. They claimed they were trying to hock enough magazine subscriptions to earn a $20,000 college scholarship.

“And I’m sure that you, as a college student, can understand why we need your help to make our goal,” one of the salesmen told me.

Now, by this time, they’d already won the battle because they were sitting on my couch. I was ready to do anything to get them out of my home and back to pillaging wallets and checkbooks in other areas of campus. So, I agreed, without actually wanting to, to purchase one year of Maxim as a birthday gift for my brother.

No sooner had I signed the check than they were gone, like smoke in the breeze, never to be seen or heard from again. I, on the other hand, was faced with my own sense of defeat for falling victim to another door-to-door scam.

You see, it wasn’t the first time I had been duped. No, there was another, in Iowa City, when a similar approach was taken by two young ladies who beat down my door at noon one Saturday and scammed me to the tune of a year of Entertainment Weekly.

Now, herein lies the problem with these scams as a whole: They sell you on something you didn’t really want by catching you off guard in your home. They attack you in the sanctity of your own environment.

If you think it’s all right because it’s for a good cause, try thinking of it in terms of pizza delivery.

After answering an unexpected knock at your door, you find a pizza boy holding two pies. He tells you he needs to unload them, and it’s your lucky day, because they’re priced to sell.

You didn’t order pizza, aren’t hungry, and don’t particularly have the money at the moment to be stockpiling food. It’s not that you don’t like pizza, it’s just that you don’t really want it at the moment.

Would you still buy, just to help this door-to-door salesman?

Apparently, I would.

Oh, and even worse, the pizza guy never actually tells you when to expect your food, because he needs to take the ones he’s brought with him to the next house.

Your once timely purchase now misses delivery by at least 120 days. Birthday presents become Christmas, even Valentine’s Day gifts, and you can’t help but think that you’ve been had.

Such is my life.

There’s definitely a moral here. Watch your money, especially through the upcoming holiday season. There are vultures at every corner. Beware of people who seem to talk faster than you can comprehend, and never, ever answer the door blindly.

Install a peephole instead.