NORTH READING (CBS) — North Reading Police are looking for a man who allegedly scammed a babysitter out of hundreds of dollars by telling her to buy him gift cards.
Last Friday, a 19-year-old Beverly woman went to a North Reading home after being contacted by a man who said he needed a babysitter for his nine-year-old daughter. The woman was met outside the house by the man, who identified himself as David, the girl, who was identified as Ali, and two German shepherds. She watched the girl for about three hours.
During that time, she neither went into the house nor saw the man enter the home. Police said this is because the house was foreclosed on a year ago. “The use of an unoccupied home, a child, dogs and a vehicle parked in the driveway were all part of an elaborate, planned out scam.”
Before the woman left, “The man wrote her two checks, totaling $3,360 and instructed her to deposit the checks using mobile deposit on her phone before taking the physical checks with him,” police said.
She was then told to buy iTunes gift cards and give David the numbers to repay him the difference. The woman maxed out the daily spending on her debit card with $500 worth of gift cards. Police said, “The suspect aggressively tried to get the victim to buy more gift cards and he allegedly became angry when she explained that she reached her spending limit, at one point threatening the victim.”
The checks later bounced.
Police describe David as a Hispanic man with a pronounced accent. Ali, who was about 4′ to 4’6″ with a heavy build, did not have an accent. David may own two German shepherds and a “late model ‘boxy’ Honda Pilot type sport utility vehicle with suitcases and duffel bags piled up in the back seat.”
In a written statement, Chief Michael Murphy said, “This is a deeply disturbing and unfortunate real-world scam situation…Thankfully, the bank’s withdrawal limit on the victim’s account likely saved her thousands of dollars in lost funds. Most disturbing to me is the suspect using a 9 year-old-child to help facilitate the scam.”
There is a concern for the girl’s wellbeing and police are looking to find her and the scammer.
“The perpetrator actually described this child as his daughter but we don’t know if that’s the case,” said Lt. Det. Thomas Romeo. “Any time there’s overpayment for goods or services, the red flag should go up.”
Anyone who recognizes the man or has experienced something similar should call North Reading Police at 978-664-3131.